Katie Compton (Trek) powered to her fifth consecutive UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup victory to wrap up overall victory for the second consecutive season at the penultimate race in Rome.
American Compton accelerated away from world champion Marianne Vos (Rabobank) during the final lap and soloed to victory by more than 24 seconds.
It is the third consecutive race in which Compton has beaten the legendary Dutchwoman and sees her take an unassailable 101-point lead atop the overall rankings ahead of the final round in Nommay, France, in three weeks’s time.
British champion Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea) struggled for the first time this season, as rain earlier in the day and strong crosswinds made life difficult for the women on the muddy Rome course.
Harris’ ninth place keeps her in second overall ahead of the final round at Nommay but Belgian Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) is now just 28 points behind after finishing fifth.
Vos – who missed two races earlier in the season due to surgery – is a further 11 points back after her third consecutive runners-up spot.
Italian Eva Lechner rounded off the podium to the evident delight of the home fans in Rome, distancing Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Rabobank) on the final lap after the Frenchwoman had initially led the pursuing group.
Britain’s Helen Wyman (Kona Factory), the European champion, finished sixth after outsprinting early leader Ellen van Loy (Young Telenet-Fidea) to finish just behind Cant.
In the men’s race, defending champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) ensured the battle for the overall World Cup title will go down to the final race after a stunning solo ride in treacherous conditions.
The Belgian ace attacked on the third lap, escaping an elite leading group and just holding off a late counter-attack led by legendary compatriot Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink).
World Cup leader Lars van der Haar (Rabobank) outsprinted Nys at the death, but Albert just held off the duo’s challenge to finish four seconds clear at the front.
Germany’s Philipp Walsleben, who was second overall prior to the race, finished 11th, coming in 1’32” behind Albert.
British champion Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles) meanwhile finished 30th, 3’38” behind Albert.
It means van der Haar now leads the overall standings by 54 points from Albert, with Walsleben nine points further adrift.
If van der Haar maintains top spot in Nammur he will become the first non-Belgian winner of the men’s overall prize since Czech ace Zdenek Stybar’s 2010 victory.
UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup round six – Rome
1) Niels Albert (BEL) – BKCP-Powerplus in 1:06:33hrs
2) Lars van der Haar (NED) – Rabobank +4″
3) Sven Nys (BEL) – Crelan-AA Drink + 5″
4) Francis Mourey (FRA) – FDJ.fr +11″
5) Martin Bina (CZE) – Kwadro-Stannah +41″
6) Rob Peeters (BEL) – Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace Continental +45″
7) Thijs Van Amerongen (NED) – AA Drink +50″
8) Tom Meeusen (BEL) – Telenet-Fidea +1’01”
9) Corne van Kessel (NED) – Telenet-Fidea +1’16”
10) Bart Wellens (BEL) – Telenet-Fidea +1’19”
1) Katie Compton (USA) – Trek in 36:45mins
2) Marianne Vos (NED) Rabobank-Liv +24″
3) Eva Lechner (ITA) Centro Sportivo Esercito +1’10”
4) Pauline Ferrand Prevot (FRA) Rabobank-Liv +1’24”
5) Sanne Cant (BEL) Enertherm-BKCP +1’33”
6) Helen Wyman (GBR) Kona Factory Racing +1’35”
7) Ellen Van Loy (BEL) Young Telenet-Fidea +1’37”
8) Sophie De Boer (NED) Kdl +1’42”
9) Nikki Harris (GBR) Young Telenet-Fidea +1’56”
10) Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (FRA) Ec Stephanois +2’17”