A courageous lone attack 18 kilometres from the line gave Italian Marta Bastianelli Italy?s first gold medal of the 2007 World Championships, with her team-mate Giorgia Bronzini?s third place the icing on the cake of the female squadra azzurra.

Bastianelli tore off the front on the first steeper climb of the final lap of the 133.7 kilometre race and then fended off the field – in which Britain?s Emma Pooley took a highly active role trying to pull back the gap – for a lone win by barely a dozen seconds.

Second at approximately six seconds was last year?s World Champion, Holland?s Marianne Vos, who used her sprint to outgun Bronzini. Pooley finished in the same leading group of chasers.

The silver medallist in the junior women?s road-rac in Verona in 2004, third in the GP Ouest France a few weeks back and youngest rider in the Italian team this year, Bastianelli went one better in Stuttgart despite her chain coming off and almost jamming during her solo effort.

“I attacked just to split the group but I was out front, kept going and went for it. I can’t believe I’ve won such an important race, but I’ve got to say my team-mates did an exceptional job.”

The tough climbs and a major pile-up caused when a barrier keeled over in strong winds effectively neutralised the race for over 100 kilometres.

With the course effectively closed down, it was only just before Bastianelli made her move that the a group of some 35 stronger riders sheered off the front of an overly large peloton.

But despite a couple of courageous counter-attacks, notably by Canadian Erinne Willock and a gap that never rose above 30 seconds, Bastianelli?s move carried her all the way to the line for a surprising but richly deserved lone triumph.

Marta Bastianelli wins the women’s road race. Photos by Andy Jones

World Road Championships Elite Women 133.7km
1 Marta Bastianelli (Italy) 3-46-34
2 Marianne Vos (Holland) at 6sec
3 Giorgia Bronzini (Italy)
4 Svetlana Bubnekova (Russia)
5 Noemi Cantele (Italy)
Great Britain
10 Emma Pooley all st
30 Catherine Hare at 30sec
57 Rachel Heal at 5-36
dnf: Helen Wyman
dnf: Tanja Slater
dnf: Elizabeth Armistead

Bettini fires back
Comment: Stuttgart embarrassed by Worlds
Bellis: “Biggest success of my career”
Pooley: “My tenth place was earned by the team”
Bettini cleared to race by Stuttgart courts
McQuaid gives Bettini green light to race
Bettini in Worlds but Di Luca is out
Wiggins and Millar disappointed with TT ride
Bettini denies supplying drugs to Sinkewitz
Valverde can race at World Championships
Eddy Merckx not welcome at Worlds
Cooke out of Worlds, Brailsford names GB squad
British team get extra places for U23 Worlds
Boonen out of Worlds
Should Valverde ride the Worlds?

Bettini back on top
Bellis takes Under-23 bronze
Gold and bronze for Italy in women’s road race
Cancellara retains World TT title
2007 Road World Championships preview
Elite Men Time Trial: full start list
Elite Women’s Time Trial: Pooley takes eighth,
Under-23 Time Trial: Boom takes second world title in 2007
TV guide: World Champs on British Eurosport
TV guide: World Champs on BBC

Elite Men’s Road Race
Elite Women’s Road Race
Under-23 Men Road Race
Elite Men’s Time Trial
Elite Women’s Time Trial World Championships
Men’s Under-23 Time Trial World Championships

World Champs 2006: Cancellara nets gold in TT
World Champs 2006: Cooke blasts to bronze in Salzburg

Official 2007 Road World Championships website: www.radwm2007.com.
Union Cycliste Internationale: www.uci.ch.