Pauline Ferrand-Prevot beat Sanne Cant in a sprint finish to end Marianne Vos' six-year reign as UCI Cyclo-cross world champion.
After winning silver in 2008, Vos had been peerless in winning every staging of the event to take place since, but had to settle for bronze in Tabor on Saturday.
France's Ferrand-Prevot - the 2014 road race world champion - was involved in a fascinating tussle with Cant throughout Saturday's race on a muddy circuit in the Czech Republic.
Lucie Chainel-Lefevre made the early running but, with three laps to go, there was a five-woman battle for the lead.
Ferrand-Prevot and Cant eventually broke clear of that leading pack, before the former looked to have shaken off the latter to surge to a comfortable win.
However, Cant refused to go down without a fight, and reeled in Ferrand-Prevot, opening up a three-second advantage at the front.
A determined Ferrand-Prevot - two seconds behind at the bell - eventually re-took the lead, but first place changed hands time and a again in a tense finish.
With the chasing pack - led by Vos and Katerina Nash - closing in, Ferrand-Prevot edged a sprint finish to snare gold.
Vos eventually crossed the line 15 seconds off the pace, with Nikki Harris finishing fourth ahead of Nash.