Roadside PEZ: 2018 European Road Race Championships!
Roadside in Glasgow: The 2018 European championships have been a great success for the Scottish City of Glasgow, not just the cycling, but also all the other events. Callum MacGregor took in the men’s time trial during the week and its ultra close final, so he could hardly miss the road race climax of the events on the city centre circuit. The action was hot, pity about the weather!
Trentin gets the big win he’s been looking for
The long hot summer gave way to more traditional Scottish summertime with pro-longed drizzle the order of the day at the European Men’s Road Race Championship on Sunday in Glasgow. The Azzurri didn’t seem to mind with Italian Matteo Trentin taking the win on Glasgow Green ahead of Mathieu Van Der Poel, the Dutchman holding off his cyclo-cross rival Belgian Wout Van Aert.
Glasgow in summertime
Glasgow looked good even in the rain
In a race contested over sixteen laps and 230km of a city centre circuit with Glasgow Green and Kelvingrove Park at either end, it was guaranteed to be a hard day out, with seventy five non-finishers and only fifty one making it to the line after almost six hours of racing, it proved to be just that. Ed and I wandered down from the train station wrapped up and ready for a long day, we caught our first sight of the race as the riders approached on their first lap. Ireland’s Robert McCarthy was the first man to have a go and he was soon joined by a further six riders in what was to be the main break for the first part of the race.
Robert McCarthy starts the first break of the day within minutes of the start
The break gets to work early on
The race was on despite the weather with the bunch lined out as we saw them leaving George Square.
The left turn after George Square saw the riders climb Montrose Street, it’s short and steep and would hurt progressively more as the race went on. The break was holding the bunch at a minute with the Italians and French leading the chase, with two riders in between who soldiered on for several laps before giving up and going back to the bunch. Trentin and Viviani were well to the fore each lap on the climb and it looked like the Italians had a game plan.
Early break on the climb
Ballerini leading Jacopo Guarnieri and Trentin
For some mechanical issues gave them the excuse to grab a car for a pull up. The crowd booed when they spotted anyone taking advantage.
Estonian Mihkel Raim was the first rider to slip back from the break on Montrose Street
Fabian Lienhard gets up Montrose Street the easy way
We continued to walk the circuit and watched the break stretch their lead to five minutes by lap 6, they were looking relaxed and in control.
The early break
The bunch snakes as the pressure goes to bring the break back
The pace increases
As the riders began to descend gingerly towards the Green we stopped for a much needed coffee and scone.
Sagan distinctive in the rainbow jersey
The chase is on, France and Italy chase the early break down
Refreshed we were back out in time for the riders as they completed lap 8. The bunch charge by with the Italians, French and Belgians at the front. Sagan is off the back we hear and sure enough seconds later he flies by, glued to the bumper of the team car on cobbles in the wet!
Sagan getting back to the bunch
Glued to the team car
Teammate Lubos Malovec has been used up in the chase and pedals by, his day now done.
Sagan’s teammate Lubos Malovec
The circuit is treacherous and as riders pass, their faces are showing the signs of a hard race.
Dirty faces after a hard day
By lap 10 the gap from break to the bunch is down to two minutes. The pace is on and the bunch is splitting with Sagan on the wrong side of it. We see them reappear as they start lap 11 but there’s no sign of Sagan, he’s had enough still feeling the effects of his crash in Le Tour and I’m sure he’s not enjoying the weather either. It’s a hard race and the bunch is reducing every lap. We stop opposite the pits just as Connor Dunne the Irish Road champion pulls in, enough is enough
Connor Dunne, Irish champion, done for the day
I spot defending champion Kristoff for the first time alongside Viviani neither looking like they were enjoying their day.
Kristoff, defending champion missed the decisive move
The break is now rapidly being reeled in, it’s lap 11 and forty seconds only now we hear, but as they pass us it’s all over and the peloton is back together. The pressure or mechanicals mean that there are still guys trying to get back to the safety of the bunch and we watch Lithuanian Gediminas Bagdonas chase for also two full laps on his own before making contact again. Adam Blythe is not so lucky and calls it a day. He’s easy to spot in his bright orange shoes.
GVA, VDP and Jasper
Trentin just before the winning move goes
Not for long however and next lap there are eight away and the big nations are represented with Italy having Trentin and Davide Cimolai. France have one rider with Pierre Luc Perichon whilst the Dutch have their national champion, young gun Mathieu Van Der Poel and team mate Maurits Lammertink. Spain have Jesus Herrada, whilst Swiss miserable weather specialist Michael Albasini is loving it! Belgium have Wout Van Aert and Xandro Meurisse whilst the German representative Nico Denz is the final member of the break.
The winning break negotiate Glasgow Green
Michael Albasini leads the winning break
It’s clear this is the winning break with no concerted chase behind. Kristoff is still there but his team doesn’t have the fire power today most having called it a day already.
Viviani missed the break
Trentin and Guarnieri negotiate Glasgow Green
We manage to make our way to the barriers for the sprint taking up position with just under three hundred meters to go. The crowds on the barriers are enjoying the spectacle and roar encouragement whilst banging the boards. The cheers announce the riders arrival and there are five slightly ahead. Turns out Lammertink has hit the deck and caused a slight split. This has ended the hopes of Michael Albasini.
Cimolai leads out Trentin, with Van der Poel, Van Aert and Herrada
Xandro Meurisse holds on for sixth place
Trentin has the perfect lead out from Cimolai and hits the front with Van Der Poel and Van Aert hot on his heels, but it never looks like he’ll give it up. This is the big win Trentin has been waiting for and he’ll be looking forward to a good late season and Worlds.
Kristoff could only manage eleventh
Kristoff heads the charge for the minor placings and duly takes what’s left of the bunch sprint from Jasper Stuyven and Rik Zabel. Great Britain’s best finisher is Luke Rowe in fifteenth.
Juan Jose Labato, appreciated by the Glasgow crowd
It’s been a tough day out and the fifty one finishers from one hundred and forty starters confirms this. The crowd appreciate the effort and applaud very finisher, Spaniard looking a bit taken aback by the warmth of the welcome.
Day done we head for the station to the tooting and shouts of “Sagan, Sagan” by an enthusiastic Slovakian fan, spirit intact despite the World champs DNF.
European Championships Men’s Road Race Result:
1. Matteo Trentin (Italy) in 5:50:02
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands)
3. Wout van Aert (Belgium)
4. Jesus Herrada (Spain)
5. Davide Cimolai (Italy)
6. Xandro Meurisse (Belgium) at 0:07
7. Michael Albasini (Switzerland)
8. Pierre Luc Périchon (France)
9. Nico Denz (Germany) at 0:25
10. Maurits Lammertink (Netherlands) at 2:15.