Arne Gabius of Germany produced a 5,000 metres victory in front of his home fans in Braunschweig today which epitomised the appeal of the European Team Championships - and indeed their precursor the European Cup - on a day when David Storl and Christian Reif's wins helped the hosts to an overnight lead.
In a Super League event where every point counts for one's country, Gabius produced a stupendous effort over the final 30 metres to pass Spain's 2006 European champion Jesus Espana and deliver maximum points which put Germany into the lead.
Gabius came through on the inside to edge home in 13min 55.89sec from Espana in 13:56.00 and Turkey's Ali Kaya, third in 13:56.64.
This effort was one of three victories for the hosts - winners of these events in 2009 - who totalled 195 points, three ahead of defending champions Russia, winners of six of the opening 21 events, with France third on 161.
Britain, for whom the only victory came in the men's 4x100m relay, are fourth with 158.5 points, five clear of Poland.
"The last 30m were so hard," said Gabius.
"Jesus Espana is such a good sprinter and I do not know how I managed to overtake him.
"I needed to put out a big chest and then you know that you are first over the line."
Germany also had a memorable win in the long jump as Reif beat Britain's Olympic champion Greg Rutherford.
Rutherford looked in control of the competition after his first round 7.99 metres but then in the third round, Reif, cheered on by the clapping fans, leaped to 8.13m to triumph.
"It is really beautiful to win against the Olympic champion," said Reif.
Germany had early reason to celebrate, too, as Storl, their double world champion, beat the double Olympic champion, Tomasz Majewski, of Poland, in the shot put with a season's best of 21.20m.
France led with 23 points at that stage but Storl's win saw Germany onto 31 from France with 29 ahead of Russia with 26.
Denis Kudryavtsev, of Russia, won the 400m hurdles in 49.38sec to put Russia into second spot and though France's Jimmy Vicaut triumphed in the 100m in 10.03, he limped away, with his hand clutching his right hamstring.
When Mame-Ibra Anne won the sixth event, the 400m in 45.71, France were back on top of the table, but Russia closed in through wins from Yekaterina Poistogova in the 800m, in 2:02.65 and in the pole vault from Anzhelika Sidorova with 4.65m.
France were still in front with 82 points from Russia with 75 and Germany with 72.
Sifan Hassan, of the Netherlands, then tore the field apart to win the 3,000m in a Championship best of 8:45.24,
By the end of event 10, Russia were in front as Yekaterina Koneva's second round triple jump of 14.55m gave her victory over Ukraine's Olha Saladuha, the double European champion and world champion, who was second with 14.33m.
Russia's Alena Tamkova won the 15th event, the women's 400m, in 51.72, but then came Gabius' moment, a win which put Germany in front with five events remaining.
The lead went back to Russia when Andrey Silnov took second place in the high jump with 2.28, but Reif then narrowed the gap to one point with his victory.
Barbora Spotakova, the javelin world record-holder, showed her form after returning to the sport to give the Czech Republic victory with 65.57m, with Germany's Linda Stahl third with 61.58m ahead of Russia's Viktoriya Sudarushkina with 59.40m before the final event of the day, the men's 4x100m.
Adam Gemili, on the anchor leg, gave Britain victory in the second heat with the best overall time of 38.51 from Germany in 38.88 and though Russia were fourth in this race in 39.35, they were eighth overall which meant the host nation were in charge going into day two.
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