This weekend riders across the continent did battle over the right to wear their national colours for the next year, with the stripes on offer for both the road race and time trial specialists. As ever, there were plenty of big-name riders in action, and you’ll be able to see a few of them donning their new jerseys at the Tour de France from Saturday. Here’s a rundown of what happened in Europe’s major cycling nations.
There was a surprise winner in the Belgian national championships for a second consecutive year, with veteran Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) stealing the crown from last year’s winner Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal). Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Soudal) and Greg van Avermaet – ever the bridesmaid – (BMC) rounded out the podium.
There was an enormous 25-man breakaway that escaped on the 18km circuit in Tervuren, though gradually the pace was ratcheted up and riders dropped off until only Van Hecke and Roelandts remained. The 32-year-old held off his compatriot to take his first national title and the biggest win of his career to date.
Individual time trial champion: Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Soudal).
There was an even bigger shock across the border in Chantonnay, where Steven Tronet (Auber 93) upset the odds to seal what was also the biggest win of his life. He would’ve likely been pipped to the post by Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) in his late dash for the line but he crashed late on, sustaining a rib injury that laves him questionable for the Tour de France.
The commissaires saw Bouhanni’s former teammate Anthony Roux (FDJ) as being at fault for the tangle, and demoted him from his second place finish. That meant Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) finished second, with former winner Sylvain Chavanel (IAM) rounding out the podium.
Individual time trial champion: Jerome Coppel (IAM)
In Germany, another rider from outside the top tier stole the national colours. In his debut national championships, 22-year-old Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Argon 18) took victory in Bensheim, edging out Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) and Marcus Burghardt (BMC).
There was plenty of sprinting talent in the field, though last year’s winner Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) were among the riders to miss the race’s decisive move, giving the youngster the chance to take a brilliant win. Keep an eye out for Buchmann at the Tour de France, with his team among the five to have been granted wildcards for the race.
Individual time trial champion: Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step).
Peter Kennaugh (Sky) defended his title as British national champion, seeing off Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step) on a cobbled climb up to the finish in Lincoln. Kennaugh’s teammate Ian Stannard finished the race in third.
Though one would always expect Cavendish to have enough to beat his fellow Manxman in a fast finish, the 16% average gradient of the final ascent up to the line proved too much for the sprint specialist, allowing Kennaugh to take victory ahead of an almost-certain selection for the Tour de France. This victory merely confirms his impressive form, and he will be a valuable ally for Chris Froome in the mountains.
Meanwhile, let’s hope that Cav will be fit to make the start in Utrecht – he collided with a photographer and sustained an injury to his shoulder, though it seems unlikely to be severe enough to end his Tour before it has even begun.
Individual time trial champion: Alex Dowsett (Movistar).
There was another defending champion over in Italy, where Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) confirmed his good form ahead of the Tour de France by picking up his second consecutive tricolore. The Shark of Messina edged out Francesco Reda (Team Idea) and Diego Ulissi (Lampre Merida) to win the race on the famous Superga mountain near Turin.
Nibali’s Astana team controlled proceedings heading into the finale, with Nibali closely surveying all riders who attempted to break off the front of the peloton. He eventually made a move himself, and broke clear on the ascent to the finish with 3km remaining. He’s successfully defended one of his major titles – at the Tour de France over the next month he’ll be looking to defend another.
Individual time trial champion: Adriano Malori (Movistar).
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) confirmed his good form ahead of the Tour de France by swapping last year’s time trial glory for the more prestigious road title among the pretty stone and terracotta surrounds of the western city of Cáceres.
Despite an aggressive race in which plenty of riders attempted to upset the Movistar dominance, everything came back together for a sprint finish. It’s a mark of quite how well-rounded a rider Valverde is that he managed to triumph from the bunch to take his second national road race title.
Individual time trial champion: Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar).
Austria: Marco Haller (Katusha)
Czech Republic: Petr Vakoc (Etixx-Quick Step)
Denmark: Chris Anker Sorensen (Tinkoff-Saxo)
Latvia: Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM)
Luxembourg: Bob Jungels (Trek)
Netherlands: Niki Terpstra (Etixx-Quick Step)
Portugal: Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida)
Russia: Yuri Trofimov (Katusha)
Slovakia: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo)
Switzerland: Danilo Wyss (BMC)