Marta Bastianelli made the most of an unlikely opportunity to clinch women’s road race gold at the European Championships as the Italian sprinted to victory in Glasgow.
The prospect of a sprint finish appeared to have been ended when Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen of The Netherlands and Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini surged clear from a five rider breakaway in the final eight kilometres of the race.
The duo distanced France's Aude Biannic, The Netherlands' Floortje Mackaij and Britain's Dani Rowe on the final climb.
Van der Breggen and Borghini appeared set to contest the gold between themselves, while the chasing trio were caught by the peloton.
A slowing in tempo from Van der Breggen and Borghini at the front as they prepared to sprint, coupled with injections of pace behind, led to the duo inexplicably being caught in the final kilometre.
The sprint would ultimately unfold at the conclusion of the 130km race, which saw riders compete over a hilly city centre circuit.
Bastianelli, the 2007 world champion, seized on the opportunity presented.
The Italian, who served a two year doping ban from 2008 to 2010, unleashed an impressive turn of speed to earn a comfortable victory in the bunch sprint.
Defending champion Marianne Vos of the Netherlands crossed a frustrated second on the same time as the winner.
Germany's Lisa Bennauer, winner of yesterday’s individual pursuit on the track, won the bronze medal.
"I think this is just as good a feeling as when I won the world title in 2007, it was a very, very hard race," said Bastianelli.
"I didn't have a good feeling about it during the first three laps but my team worked really hard for me and I think I took my opportunity well.
"The last corner was when I started my sprint.
“It looked like the leading two at that point would hold on and there would be a fight for bronze.
“I only actually led the race for the last 300 metres.
"Thankfully that was the most important part."
The Netherlands will be left questioning their tactics, as despite being the strongest team, they contrived to fail to earn the gold.
With two riders having featured in the five rider break, it appeared the Dutch team were attempting to end the move.
Their riders were also responsible for accelerations in the pace which ultimately led to the final leading pair, which included their team-mate Van der Breggen, being caught.
"Italy is a very strong team as well - it's not as if we were the only strong group in the race," said Vos.
"They did really well.
"We could have done a few things differently but Italy deserved the win.
"There were a lot of things happening in the final stages.
"It looked like it was going to be a sprint and in the final kilometres the race got very fast.
"I wasn't really prepared for the sprint though."
Despite missing out on the medal, the host nation were able to celebrate strong performances from Rowe and Sophie Wright.
The latter led for nearly half of the race, before the 19-year-old was eventually brought back as the race heated up.