The Italian took the spoils in Alkmaar, ahead of his Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammate Yves Lampaert.
Three days and three gold medals for Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders on the international scene! After Remco Evenepoel’s dominating success in the time trial at the European Championships and Max Richeze’s landmark victory at the Pan American Games, this time Elia Viviani grabbed the headlines, in Alkmaar, where the 30-year-old Italian scored one of the biggest and most memorable wins of his career and made sure of donning the European Champion jersey for the next 12 months.
“It’s absolutely amazing, I can’t find the words to tell you what this means for me! I came out of the Tour de France with a good condition and was hoping to be in contention for the gold medal, and to finally get it, two years after I finished runner-up, gives me immense joy”, a smiling Elia said moments after the finish.
Sunday’s enthralling 172.6km race was ripped apart by the Italian team, who took advantage of the strong crosswinds to make a huge selection after just 20 kilometers. As a result, five different groups were spread across the road, and things didn’t stop there, as inside the last 70 kilometers the same Squadra Azzurra pushed again, this time on the local circuit, to make another split, with just 13 men surviving.
Among those at the front were four Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders – Kasper Asgreen, Yves Lampaert, Florian Sénéchal and Elia Viviani – who exchanged turns and made sure the advantage wouldn’t drop below 45 seconds, despite a fiery chase of the Netherlands team. Around 25 kilometers from the finish, Lampaert, Viviani and Pascal Ackermann (Germany) extricated themselves from the group, which was soon after reabsorbed by the peloton, and managed to quickly build a 50-second gap by the time they entered the closing ten kilometers.
Knowing that his chances were slim in a three-up sprint, Yves Lampaert attacked with four kilometers to go and put some daylight between him and his companions, before Elia reacted and closed the gap ahead of the final cobbled sector, in the process dropping Ackermann. The two weren’t seen again by the chasers until the finish, where Viviani outsprinted Yves and took his ninth success of the season.
“We watched all the other races here in Alkmaar and we knew that we had to change our tactic, because the wind was to play a big part in the outcome, as it did the entire week. I had really strong legs, took many risks today and it all paid off. Being there at the front together with Yves, who is my teammate and a good friend, was really nice and special. I am extremely happy and proud of this win, one of the finest of my entire career, as it didn’t come from a bunch sprint”, Elia explained.
Just as it happened at the end of Thursday’s individual time trial, two Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders finished on the podium, making it for the first time in the history of the European Championships that a trade team had two delegates in the top 3 at both events.
“The race split quite early under the impetus of the Italians. Then, as things progressed, only 13 guys remained at the front and I was one of them. When the three of us rode clear with 25 kilometers left, we knew that despite the gap being just 30 seconds, it wasn’t going to be easy for the chasers to close it, so we pushed hard, as that was the big chance to hold firm of our advantage. Going into the last kilometers, I was aware that I didn’t stand a chance in the sprint, so I tried to go alone, but Elia was strong and managed to bridge across. I’m happy with my result, as taking second place and the silver medal is the best outcome considering everything”, Yves said at the end of the day.
Photo credit: ©Bas Czerwinski/ Getty Images