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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, September 19, 2016

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The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense – Tom Clancy

Recently completed racing:

Today's racing:


Peter Sagan wins European road race championships

Tinkoff sent me this report:

Already the UCI world road race champion, Peter Sagan today added another title to his palmares by winning the inaugural elite European road race championships in Plumelec, France. Racing in the national colours of Slovakia, Peter finished the race with a perfectly timed sprint after a tough day in the saddle culminating with the climb of Cadoudal to the line.

After the race, a clearly delighted Peter was keen to thank his countrymen for their hard work during the race. "I'm extremely happy to be the first ever European Road Champion and it's an honour for me to take the Slovak colors to the highest spot of the podium. As expected, it was a long and tough race, but in the final lap my legs were strong and I thought I had what it took to jump at the opportunity when it arose.

“I waited until I felt the timing was right to attack and take my chance, although it wouldn't have been possible without the dedicated work of all my Slovak team-mates. I dedicate this victory to them as well as the entire country of Slovakia and I congratulate all riders of Tinkoff for their effort in this European Championship."

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan wins the 2016 European Road Race Championships

Peter lined up at the race alongside Tinkoff teammates Michael Kolar, brother Juraj Sagan, Sergio Paulinho and Michael Gogl, each racing for the respective nations. After an early break of four riders pulled clear the race settled into its rhythm on the circuit around Plumelec, in Brittany, which took in the short but testing climb of the Cadoudal each lap.

With 50km to race the repetitive climbs and fast pace saw a depleted peloton come to within a minute of the last remaining attacker, and this proximity sparked the first of many moves with a strong counterattack going across including Sergio.

This didn’t survive and more and more moves went up the road before eventually being swallowed up, leaving a large number of riders still in contention with one lap to go. A strong solo move in the final lap forced yet another hard chase in the peloton but into the final kilometre everything was back together again.

As the race rounded the last corner, with the finish line in sight, Peter made his move – coming from a strong position at the front to power clear of his rivals and take the title – the first ever elite European road race title with clear space between him and the riders behind.

Peter will now head directly to join his teammates at the Eneco Tour which starts tomorrow in the Netherlands. With several stages that suit the World and European champion’s strengths, it could be a prosperous week for the team as the season starts to draw to a close.

Results:

  1. Peter Sagan (Slovakia) 5hr 34min 23sec
  2. Julian Alaphilippe (France) s.t.
  3. Daniel Moreno (Spain) s.t.
  4. Samuel Dumoulin (France) s.t.
  5. Petr Vakoc (Czech Republic) s.t.
  6. Rui Faria (Portugal) s.t.
  7. Tony Gallopin (France) @ 3sec
  8. Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) s.t.
  9. Diego Ulissi (Italy) s.t.
  10. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spain) s.t.

And here's Etixx-Quick Step's Euro Champs news:

Two Etixx – Quick-Step riders came in the top 5 at the first edition open to the professional riders.

The European Championships in Plumelec took the riders over a 13.7-km long course which the bunch had to cover 17 times, for more than 230 kilometers. The main difficulty of the route was Côte de Cadoudal, a 1800m climb averaging 7.8% used in the past at the French Nationals and in the Tour de France, which featured at the end of each lap and was expected to be decisive.

First part of the race was a quiet one, just four riders going into the break and opening a maximum advantage of 11 minutes, which was reduced by the peloton without too many difficulties. Five laps before the finish, the move of the quartet was nullified and a new group formed, Vuelta a España stage winner David De La Cruz booking a place at the front together with six other man.

Behind, the race came to life as Belgium got organized and took over the reins, keeping the gap in control before bringing the riders back inside the last 30 kilometers. On the final lap, Italy's Moreno Moser tried to surprise the bunch with an attack, but despite having half a minute at one point, he couldn't go all the way and was reeled in with 1 200 meters left.

In the sprint, a strong Julian Alaphilippe – who played a smart race on home turf – finished second, behind world champion Peter Sagan, third place going to Spain's Daniel Moreno. For 24-year-old Julian, who's in his third season with Etixx – Quick-Step, it was another excellent result which underlined the strong condition he had throughout 2016, following the overall victory at the Tour of California, the runner-up spot he took in Flèche Wallonne, the fourth place at the Olympic Games and the white jersey and top 10 overall in the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Second four days ago at the Grand Prix de Wallonie, Petr Vakoč also got involved in the sprint which concluded the European Championships in Bretagne, finishing fifth, in the same time as the winner; Daniel Martin rolled over the line in 13th position, while another Etixx – Quick-Step rider, Gianni Meersman, completed the race in 17th.

Here's what third-place Daniel Moreno's Movistar team had to say about the Euro Champs:

They were only four at the start, yet they featured more prominently that numbers could tell. And they got back home with another medal. It was an excellent close to the European Championships for the Movistar Team riders taking part in the races at Plumelec (Brittany, France) this long weekend, as Dani Moreno claimed bronze behind Peter Sagan (SVK) and Julien Alaphilippe (FRA) after a long (232.9km), yet not-so-steep circuit around the Côte de Cadoudal. As the race was always coming together, the veteran Madrilian knew where and how to profit from his terminal velocity on difficult finishes.

Rubén Fernández -involved in a crash, fortunately with no consequences, at the penultimate lap- and Giovanni Visconti promptly responded to the domestique work they were asked for by his home nations, and anticipated a last two loops around the finish at full speed, with a 20-man break (including 'Visco') and a lone move by Moser (ITA) adding spice to the inevitable group finish. Well led out by David de la Cruz, Moreno tackled the last 1.8km uphill always at the front, and even launched the sprint himself. He was beaten, only through the last 100 meters, by a superior Sagan and Alaphilippe, who had to wait for the photo-finish to confirm his silver medal.

Dani Moreno: "It would have been nice to see the photo-finish, because the silver medal was so close and I think Alaphilippe only beat me by a nail and into the very last meter. The Spanish team worked really well: we took care of all main moves so we didn't have to work chasing behind, and at the end, it was down to Luis León Sánchez and myself searching for a good finish, with the energies we had left, into the last climb.

"I took that third place, though I'd have liked to jump a little before I did. I got a bit boxed in at the penultimate straight, and I had to stop and almost come to a half before the jump. The right thing to try and surprise Sagan in such finishes, so favourable to him, is time your effort well, make it a long one and push hard. That third place was just out of good legs - I'd have loved to have a better push to the line and improve that result.

"All in all, it's been a good week for both the team and the national squad. We're happy that we took these two medals in the first ever pro Euro Champs."

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