Britain’s Tom Pidcock claimed a superb solo win in the prestigious Strade Bianche one-day classic in Italy.
Ineos Grenadiers rider Pidcock, 23, attacked from the peloton with about 50km remaining to join a breakaway group up the road.
He kicked clear with 20km to go and held off the chasers to cross the line alone in Siena, becoming the first British winner of the men’s race.
“It’s going to take some sinking in,” he said.
“This week I had the feeling something good was going to happen, I kind of knew today was my day and that it actually paid off is pretty incredible.”
The Netherlands’ Demi Vollering won the women’s race on Saturday, just edging out SD Worx team-mate Lotte Kopecky in a dramatic photo finish.
Britain’s Lizzie Deignan won the second edition of the women’s Strade Bianche in 2016.
Olympic mountain bike champion Pidcock used his fine descending skills to hold off his rivals in the race containing 11 sections of white gravel roads in Tuscany.
After making his move on a tough gravel sector, he caught the lead group 5km later, leaving three riders at the front – Pidcock, Alessandro de Marchi and Sven Erik Bystrom.
Bystrom dropped away before Pidcock rode clear of De Marchi, only for his lead to be cut to just six seconds with about 5km remaining by a chasing group including Matej Mohoric, Tiesj Benoot and Valentin Madouas.
But Pidcock stretched his advantage on a descent as he approached Siena, with Madouas claiming second just ahead of Benoot.
It is the second major win of Pidcock’s road racing career, following his stage 12 victory in last year’s Tour de France.
“When I went, that was completely not the plan,” said Pidcock. “But that sector is a decisive place, so I was just riding hard, I got a gap on the descent and just carried on.
“A few times they came close and I thought I’d messed it up, gone too early and wasted my shot but it was fast all day so I knew if I got a gap it was going to be hard to bring it back.”
In the women’s race, American Kristen Faulkner went clear with 32km to go and led into the final stages.
Vollering attacked from a group of the main contenders and held her nerve when a horse ran on to the course in front of her.
Kopecky bridged across to her team-mate and they worked together to reel in Faulkner before passing her on the final rise into Siena.
In a frantic finale, Belgian Kopecky initially passed her team-mate with 300m to go before Vollering drew level and timed her bike throw to claim the title, only being informed she had won in a TV interview afterwards.
“It was a crazy final,” said Vollering. “We did very well as a team, the other girls rode super strong today and did everything.
“I spoke to Lotte, and she was really happy, I came into the tent where we change, and she said, ‘You won, I’m so, so happy’. No hard feelings.”
Source – BBC Sport