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Aussie Carrigan takes cycling gold

Golden kiss. Carrigan on the podium with fellow medallists Arndt (left) and Slyusareva.
• Olympics 2004: Special report 

ATHENS, Greece -- Australia's Sara Carrigan took advantage of indecision among the favorites to take gold in the women's cycling road race on Sunday.

Carrigan outsprinted Germany's Judith Arndt after the pair broke away on the final lap of nine around the streets of Athens.

Russia's Olga Slyusareva beat Australia's Oenone Wood and Britain's Nicole Cooke in a sprint for the bronze, while defending champion Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel crashed out.

The Dutch star was left holding her head after a collision at the front of the bunch with two laps to go. Her team-mate and world champion Mirjam Melchers finished a disappointing sixth.

France's former Olympic champion Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli, competing at her sixth edition of the Games at the age of 45, never figured among the leaders but finished in the pack.

Carrigan burst clear towards the finish of the eighth of the 13.2 kilometre circuits and was later joined by Arndt.

With team-mate Wood marking moves in an elite chasing group, the pair were able to build a comfortable cushion ahead of the final sprint for the line.

World number two Arndt had looked the stronger on the climps, but could not respond to Carrigan's decisive burst for the line. She gratefully embraced Wood at the finish.

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