Belarus’ Alena Amialiusik took gold in the women’s cycling road race by defeating Poland’s Katarzyna Niewiadoma and The Netherlands’ Anna van der Breggen on day eight of competition at the Baku European Games.
The race started slowly but the various inclines and cobbled sections provided numerous opportunities for attacks over the 120.7 kilometre course, and as the race approached the halfway mark, a leading group of 14 riders was established.
But it was van der Breggen, the bronze medal medallist in the time trial two days ago, who made a move on the penultimate lap to breakaway from the pack alongside team mate Ellen van Dijk, Amialiusik and Niewiadoma, although it was Amialiusik who was freshest to finish first in three hours, 20 minutes 36 seconds.
“I am very happy. I have many feelings right now but I cannot explain them.,” said Amialiusik. “The gold medal is an honour.”
“I had no secret weapon. I felt that I was the best. The main thing was just to keep calm and believe in myself.
“I prepared a lot. It was very difficult physically and psychologically. The Dutch team were dominating and we tried to win.”
Niewiadoma crossed the line just behind the winner for the silver while van der Breggen held on just enough for the bronze, although all three medallists were awarded the same time.
Switzerland leave their mark
Elsewhere, Switzerland’s Guilia Steingruber left their mark at the Games by winning both the floor and vault titles in the women’s artistic gymnastic finals at the Baku National Gymnastics Arena.
Two-time European champion Steingruber overcame a couple of faults in her routines, one of which sent her out of bounds and nearly off the apparatus, to take victory in the floor with 14.266 points and in the vault with 14.999 points.
“I am happy I got the gold. I did not expect it,” Steingruber told reporters. “I made a mistake when I crossed the line (on an acrobatic skill). I think my routine was more difficult (than the other competitors’), so I won.”
“I tried to have positive thoughts, just go for it and give my full energy. I wanted to show the audience what I can do, and this day was quite good.”
In the vault, silver and bronze went to Russia’s Seda Tutkhalyan and the Netherlands’ Lisa Top respectively, while in the floor exercise, Russia’s Aliya Mustafina took the silver as the Netherlands’ Lieke Wevers took the bronze.
Meanwhile, Russia triumphed in the women’s water polo final by beating Spain in a dramatic penalty shootout.
Russia tied the first quarter with Spain 3-3 but by the end of the second quarter, the Spaniards enjoyed a one point lead (4-5) which they increased to a two point lead in the third period thanks to goals from Paula Crespi Barriga and Alejandra Aznar Diez while they also conceded a point from Maria Bersneva to make it 8-6.
In the final period Russia and Spain traded goals continuously and with 38 seconds remaining, it seemed as if Spain were to be the victors, but a late foul by Alejandra Aznar Diez which resulted in her exclusion meant that Russia’s Daria Gerzanich was able to score with an extra-man to level the scores 10-10.
Both teams scored their first six penalties before Russia’s Evgeniia Golovina (RUS) saved Crespi Barriga’s second effort in the penalty shootout to secure the victory.
“We began the game so badly, I don’t know what happened,” said Belofsatov, who joined his players in the pool in celebration after the final penalty.
“The first period, for us, was a disaster, a catastrophe because we gave the ball away, got too many exclusions, and in the second half we changed the tactics. After 7-4, I began to believe.
“The penalties are Russian roulette and today I am happy because we played this game and my young players won this game.”
Greece won the bronze in the other medal match after their goalkeeper Ioanna Stamatopoulou pulled off a series of stunning saves in the closing stages against Italy.