Greg Van Avermaet revelled in the "greatest feeling ever" after conquering a gruelling course to take gold in the men's cycling road race at Rio 2016 on Saturday.
Belgium's Van Avermaet and Dane Jakob Fuglsang reeled in Rafal Majka inside the final two kilometres, after the Pole had been left out on his own when pre-race favourite Vincenzo Nibali and Sergio Henao crashed out on the final descent.
Fuglsang and Majka then had to settle for the lesser medals as Van Avermaet proved the strongest in the dash to the finish line at the famous Copacabana beach.
"I knew I had a great sprint at the end. It's very special," said the victor.
"It was a stressful race with all the crashes. There was a lot of risk-taking, so I expected it.
"It's the greatest feeling ever to get gold. I'm a classics guy so I hold on well."
Van Avermaet was initially unsure of how many riders remained ahead of him after passing the stricken Nibali and Henao with around 12 kilometres of the 237.5km route remaining.
"When I saw the crash I was confused about how many riders were still up the road," he added.
"I was working with Fuglsang and we saw Majka. We knew it was possible.
"I knew I had to hang on. I am so happy for gold. Everyone said all week it was for everyone else."
Tour de France champion Chris Froome was left behind in the closing stages and had to settle for 12th place, just behind fellow Britain Geraint Thomas, one of many to suffer a crash.