DECEMBER 10 - MO FARAH'S awesome finishing speed on the last circuit ensured he emphatically claimed the European Championship Cross Country title for Britain in San Giorgio su Legnano today.

Farah's flowing pace crushed the ambitions of not only Ukraine's Sergiy Lebid who was bidding for a seventh win and sixth in succession, but also the continent's top distance runners.

"I've had to work hard for this goal and to achieve this and I spent a month preparing in South Africa," said Farah, after becoming only the second British champion following Jon Brown's victory 10 years ago.

The 23-year-old Somalian-born athlete's coming of age after winning the junior silver medal five years ago was the highlight of some outstanding British performances.

Farah's slick incision of speed 800 metres from the finishing line saw him move ahead of his more experienced rivals to win the 9,950m race by seven seconds in 27min 56sec.

"I felt confident but struggled a little at the start, they were all bunching so I just decided to sit in and wait" said Farah, staying out of the early opening lap melee.

But after that, he was always handily placed and it was noticeable Lebid was keeping a very close eye on him, although like the rest of the field was blown back to 12th position when Farah turned the screw.

Farah added: "At the bell Lebid didn't do anything, so I followed the other guys then found myself at the front.

"I thought 'You might as well just push now'."

France took the team race from Portugal and Spain with the British having to settle for fourth position.

The women, with Jo Pavey a pre-race favourite, were left to reflect on failing by the narrowest possible margin to reclaim the team medal they won three years ago.

On that occasion Paula Radcliffe led them home with her second championship win in Edinburgh and after picking up silver medals in the last two years, hopes were again high.

Indeed until the last and final circuit of the 8,030m race, they had led, albeit by a small margin, ahead of Portugal and France.

But luck ran out when the 2004 champion Hayley Yelling was passed on the finishing line by Frenchwoman Julie Coulaud and robbed of fifth position.

That saw the squad share the same tally of points with the Portuguese but their rivals' last finisher saw them clinch gold as Monica Rosa finished 17th, just one position ahead of Kate Reed.

"I didn't know there was anybody near, I though I was clear," said Yelling.

There was plenty to cheer from the performances of the GB junior women's side, several who will hopefully will be medal contenders at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Stephanie Twell became only the second British individual winner following in the footsteps of Charlotte Dale's success four years ago.

The 17-year-old World Junior Championships 1,500m finalist easily headed off the challenges of Norway's Karoline Grovdal and defending champion Ancuta Bobocel from Romania.

She clocked 12:33 over the 4,100m course and backed by Emily Pidgeon in fourth, sixth-placed Sian Edwards and Abby Westley who finished 10th, the team retained their title and scored a fifth in the event's history.The under-23 trial event saw the women's side led home by Aine Hoban in fourth clinch gold ahead of Poland and Italy.