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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, June 26, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

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Cycling's 50 Triumphs and Tragedies

Les Woodland's book Cycling's 50 Triumphs and Tragedies: The rise and fall of bicycle racing's champions is available in print, Kindle eBook & audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Attila Valter is Hungarian road champion

Here’s the story from Valter’s Team Groupama-FDJ:

For a year, Attila Valter will proudly wear the Magyar colours on the biggest races of the calendar. On Friday, in the small city of Pannonhalma, in the northwest of the country, the 24-year-old young man became Hungarian champion on the road race for the very first time. After 168 kilometres, he outsprinted his friend Marton Dina on the final cobbled climb. He also took, on this occasion, his first win with the Groupama-FDJ cycling team.

Attila Valter finishes fourth in 2022 Giro stage 19. Sirotti photo

After skipping the time trial on Wednesday, a few days after he was forced to leave the Route d’Occitanie, Attila Valter clearly had his eyes on the road race of his national championships. On Thursday, 168 kilometres were to be completed to conquer gold. The riders had to cover nine laps of a 16.5-kilometre circuit, and three and a half laps of a 5.4-kilometre local loop. Also, the finish line was located after a cobbled climb of about one kilometre. This could perfectly suit the former wearer of the pink jersey, but the hardest part was to get there while being still in the mix.

“It was a hectic race, like every year”, said Attila a few hours later. “It’s really hard to race alone and not have the support of your teammates. I think there was a record of participants this year, with almost 90 runners on the start line. The course was slightly hilly, and we put the hammer down from the gun. We raced hard”.

The race situation settled down after a few tens of kilometres. “A breakaway went, but unfortunately there was a crash with a car”, reported Attila. “I was chasing behind them in the bunch, then I had a very lucky moment. I just went alone, without having to attack. I just took a good turn, and everyone looked at each other behind me. When I realized I had a gap, I tried to join the front group straight away. At that moment, there were still a hundred kilometres to go, or even more. In the break, there was my friend Marton Dima and two other guys. In the back, the other rider from Eolo-Kometa was controlling to prevent them from chasing. Basically, the race finished there”.

As the finish approached, the leading quartet became a duo. “We had a tough circuit at the end, and Marton and I were the last to stay away”, added Attila. “He was really strong, he surprised me. I had some cramps at the end, but this time I really trusted my sprint, and I knew the finish. I knew how long I could wait, and I opened 250 metres from the line. It was really steep at the end, and I was just faster”.

At the top of the final climb, the Hungarian was able to raise his arms in the air to celebrate his first road race title, three years after winning the time trial. “I had a lucky race, and I obviously needed strong legs too”, he said. “I got both, so I’m super happy to have this jersey. It means a lot. I will have the stripes forever on my shoulders. I’m really happy I can ride this season and the next one with the Hungarian champion’s jersey, especially after this year’s Giro. It means a lot to me.”

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Itamar Einhorn wins Israeli road championships after an extraordinary sportsmanship gesture

Here’s the story from Eihnorn’s Team Israel-Premier Tech:

Itamar Einhorn was crowned the new Israeli road race champion, but the route to the finish line was marked by an extraordinary sportsmanship gesture.

Itamar Einhorn wins Israeli road championships. Photo: Itamar Grinberg

Seven kilometers before the end of the championship race, which took place in the northern Golan Heights today, four senior riders from Israel – Premier Tech pressed forward, leaving the peloton behind.

Suddenly, Itamar Einhorn, the team’s powerful sprinter, lost focus and crashed.

“It was my fault,” Einhorn later said. “The Commissar’s car distracted me and I did not notice that Omer Goldstein had cut to the left – I found myself on the asphalt.”

Was that the end for Itamar? Surprisingly, no. When he recovered enough to climb back onto his bike, he discovered that his friends and teammates Omer Goldstein, Guy Sagiv, and Guy Niv, had waited for him instead of pushing on forward and likely securing the podium positions for themselves.

It was not an obvious decision, especially since the three knew that in doing so they were giving a clear chance to their most dangerous opponent. The flat finish combined with Itamar’s ability to accelerate did not bode well for them.

Itamar: “It was not an obvious gesture and I really appreciate what they did.”

After returning to his comrades, the battle reopened.

Itamar continued and described the emotional finale, “They attacked me again and again, but I gave everything and managed to beat them in a sprint and get the champion’s jersey. This, of course, very emotional as it’s my first Elite Championship. But I must say that my friends’ gesture has moved me deeply."

It ended up being a clean sweep for Israel – Premier Tech. Einhorn was joined on the podium by Guy Sagiv in second, and Omer Goldstein, who took the national time trial champion’s jersey yesterday and will take the line at the Tour de France this coming Friday.

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Riejanne Markus is Dutch road champion

Here’s the report from Mrakus’ Team Jumbo-Visma:

Riejanne Markus has won the Dutch national championship on the Col du VAM. The 28-year-old rider from Team Jumbo-Visma Women beat Shirin van Anrooij in the sprint and won her first national title.

Markus tried to escape as one of the first riders. She gained a few seconds, but her breakaway attempt soon proved unsuccessful. Later on, Marianne Vos attacked. She broke away from the peloton with forty kilometres to go. The four-time Dutch champion quickly gathered a fifty-second lead, but at twenty kilometres from the finish, Vos was caught by the now depleted peloton.

At ten kilometres from the finish, Van Anrooij escaped from a twenty-rider group. Markus was on the young rider's wheel in no time and because the chase did not really get going, the two had gained a twenty-second lead at the foot of the final Col du VAM climb. The chasers managed to come within a few seconds but could not keep up with the strong duo. Markus attacked in the last few hundred metres and in initially it seemed Van Anrooij couldn't follow. She fought her way back, but Markus eventually won the race. The first season victory for Markus meant Team Jumbo-Visma's third victory of 2022.

"It's great to win here", the new Dutch champion said. "It was quite an emotional day. Before the start, we briefly reflected on the situation of Amy Pieters, a good friend of mine. But I quickly had to focus on the race. I felt good. We really raced well as a team today. In the final phase, it was wise not to get too much in the front because Marianne was still behind. It was important to keep cool. I attacked early and saw Shirin almost coming alongside. Fortunately, it was enough and I became Dutch champion. Last year I celebrated Amy's title together with her. I've been missing her all year next to me in the race and think about her a lot. I hope she is a bit proud of me."

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Yevgeniy Gidich is Kazakh road champion

Here’s the report from Gedich’s Team Astana-Qazaqstan:

After his second place last year, Yevgeniy Gidich came back to Kazakhstan to win his first national title in the road race. Today, Gidich became the strongest rider in 157-km-long race, winning the title in a four-man sprint ahead of his Astana Qazaqstan teammates Artyom Zakharov, Gleb Brussenskiy and Nurbergen Nurlykhassym.

“Well, it was a tough race due to weather conditions: it was hot, stuffy and rainy. The race turned out to be very intense and nervous, so we saw the first attacks inside the first lap already. I also tried to be active, staying in front and following dangerous moves. In a moment I decided to attack to join the right leading group. We were twelve in the break, quickly organizing a good work all together. I tried to stay calm until the last lap, at the same time taking care of drinking and eating in the right time and saving the energy for the final. There were a few dangerous attacks in our group, but I was able to answer to all of them. Well, in the end of the day I launched an attack on the last short climb and we remained just four in our group, while in the sprint I made it. I am really happy with this win and with the jersey of the national champion. This means a lot for me, because it was my big dream to become Kazakhstan Champion. It will be a great honor and pleasure for me to wear it during the following year. I am sure this victory and this jersey will bring me more confidence and motivation”, – said Yevgeniy Gidich.

Meanwhile, in Under-23 category Nicolas Vinokurov of Astana Qazaqstan Development Team became the new Kazakhstan U23 road race champion, winning the title ahead of Ilhan Dostyev and his teammate Orken Slamzhanov.

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