The Australians had the strongest team in the race and they policed the peloton throughout.
Several early attacks were foiled with gaps kept at just a handful of seconds before Baker and her teammates turned the screw in the last few kilometers.
England’s Anna Henderson, who won silver in this week’s time trial, lashed out at the Australian tactics, branding them “boring” after the women’s road race.
Henderson had tried to break the stranglehold the Australian team appeared to have on the race when making several attacks during the 112-kilometre race. She was foiled with gaps kept at just a handful of seconds before Baker and her teammates turned the screw in the last few kilometers.
“It was a rubbish race. The Australians had a really boring race plan,” she said.
“I thought, ‘you’re strong enough to win the race, and be in the break and win the sprint’ so why don’t you race in the race. I wanted it to be active because I knew it was a course for that.”
“The Australians just played it really boring, didn’t really make a show of it.”
Ruby Roseman-Gannon, Alex Manly and finally Sarah Roy then took turns to lead out Baker, who put in a long dominant sprint to take out the race ahead of Evans in 2 hours 44:36.
Baker said the team had felt some pressure coming in, but the group was confident in its capabilities.
“The girls did an amazing job covering all the moves. For them to nail the final lead out made my ride so easy. I finished with fresh legs and that was the goal. I did the sprint and got my hands across the line,” she said.
Baker said it was the plan for her to go for victory from the start of the race if all went according to plan.
“If it was going to be a bunch sprint I would be sprinting; if it was going to be an aggressive and hard race where the other nations were going to make it super hard, then potentially Alex would be sprinting.
“We made the call out there with about 20km to go and I was feeling good, so we stuck to the plan and the girls [the Australia cyclists] led me out beautifully.”
The win marked Australia’s second straight win in the event after Chloe Hosking won the gold medal four years ago.
Roy, 36, who was fifth in the road race four years ago, said for so many riders to transition easily from the track to the road result showed Australian cycling was “developing and moving forward”.
“We were really controlled and calm, we trusted everyone and everyone had their role. When you execute that then special things like that can happen – first and third on the podium today,” she said.
New Zealand’s Aaron Gate became the first Kiwi to win four gold medals in one Games, coming from the clouds to run down leaders which included Welshman Geraint Thomas and Australian Lucas Plapp.
Speaking after the race, Gate said: “It’s hard to believe,” he said. “I put my arms up and I didn’t know if it had really happened or not. I’m kind of lost for words.”
South Africa’s Daryl Impey won the silver, with bronze for Scotland’s Finn Crockett.
Plapp finished in sixth place, with the Aussies without Rohan Dennis after he was taken to hospital for tests and observations following what Cycling Australia has called “discomfort”.
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