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Coronavirus has turned the racing calendar on its head in 2020 (along with just about everything else). Strade Bianche was held in summer, Il Lombardia too, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix will be held in autumn – it’s all a bit weird and unsettling. But amid all the chaos and uncertainty, it’s nice to know that some traditions have remained in place; like Europe’s national championships being held the week before the Tour de France.
Over the past few days we’ve watched as a slew of national champions were crowned around Europe; some of them taking gold for a second or third time, while others were earning the first-ever stint in the colours of their country.
In today’s Daily News Digest we’ll bring you up to speed on the biggest results from Nationals weekend. Be sure to keep an eye out on the site for a more comprehensive round-up.
Have a great week!
Matt de Neef
| Van der Poel and Van der Breggen win Dutch nationals
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) will wear the colours of Dutch champion for the next year after each won solo over the weekend.
Van der Poel attacked on the steepest, cobbled section of the manmade “Col du VAM” climb with 44 km to go, and rode solo the line to take his second national road title. Nils Eekhoff (of Worlds DQ fame; Sunweb) was second at 1:31 while Timo Roosen (Jumbo-Visma) completed the podium at 3:08.
In the women’s race, Van der Breggen claimed her first-ever road title, dispatching the seemingly unbeatable Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) in the process. Van der Breggen bridged to what became a lead group before soloing away to victory. Van Vleuten tried to bridge across but only got as far as second, 1:19 down. Anouska Koster (Parkhotel Valkenburg) was third at 2:00.
| Demare and Cordon-Ragot claim French titles
Arnaud Demare (FDJ) took his third French road title in a three-up sprint ahead of Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) after weathering several attacks from Alaphilippe in the closing kilometres. Demare was the pre-race favourite thanks to a 17-strong Groupama-FDJ team.
In the women’s race Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek-Segafredo) took an emotional first national road race title the day after missing out on the time trial title by just five seconds.
Cordon-Ragot attacked solo with 5 km to go, getting away from a group that she herself had helped thin down with earlier attacks. The 30-year-old got to the line alone, 38 seconds ahead of Gladys Verhulst (Arkea) and Clara Copponi (FDJ).
| Giacomo Nizzolo wins Italian road race title
Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT) continued his strong 2020 season with victory in the Italian road race championships. The 31-year-old was part of a 13-rider group that coalesced late before contesting a sprint to decide the race.
Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-McLaren) opened up the sprint but it was Nizzolo that hit the line first, ahead of Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Colbrelli.
| Luis Leon Sanchez and Mavi Garcia win Spanish titles
At 36 years old, Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) finally took his first Nationals road race win over the weekend. Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) attacked solo on the last climb, 4 km from the finish, prompting Sanchez to bridge across a short time later. Sanchez dropped Herrada inside the final kilometre, at which point Herrada had a mechanical which saw him drift back to 15th on the day.
Sanchez took the win by 15 seconds ahead of teammate Gorka Izagirre with Vicente Garcia de Mateos (Aviludo-Louletano) in third on the same time.
Mavi Garcia (Ale BTC Ljubljana), meanwhile, added to her win in the time trial a day earlier, soloing to a comfortable victory in the road race. The 36-year-old got away with Ane Santesteban (Ceratizit-WNT) with 40 km to go, before attacking 6 km from the finish and winning by 2:11. Santesteban was second while Eider Merino (Movistar) completed the podium at 3:50.
| Teams frustrated with Tour de France COVID-19 protocol
In other news, French newspaper L’Equipe reports that there’s frustration among teams taking part in the upcoming Tour de France over the race’s strict COVID-19 protocols.
Late last week race organiser ASO told teams that if two people from within a team (including staff) test positive to coronavirus during the Tour, the entire team and its entourage will be expelled from the race. Teams appear to be unimpressed with the rule.
“Excluding a team if two of its members test positive is a radical decision,” Jerome Pineau, manager of B&B Hotels-Vital Concept, told L’Equipe. “If a mechanic or a bus driver are declared positive, without symptoms, I dare to hope they will be quarantined without stopping everything. Otherwise, I do not think much of the peloton will make it to Paris.”
As VeloNews reports, while teams will do everything they can to protect their “bubble” of riders and staff, preventing all contact with the general public is near impossible.
L’Equipe reports that the ASO and teams will meet via videoconference on Tuesday to clarify the Tour’s health protocols.
| Dutch rider withdraws from nationals after positive COVID-19 test
Dutchwoman Inge van der Heijden (Team 777) didn’t start Dutch nationals over the weekend after testing positive to COVID-19. The former world U23 cyclocross champion (and reigning Dutch U23 champion) tested negative to the virus in a subsequent test.
“I tested negative on Friday last week, and although I did not show any symptoms of infection, to my great disappointment I suddenly tested positive on Wednesday,” the 21-year-old wrote on Instagram. “In consultation, I decided to have an extra PCR test done yesterday and the result was negative again. As I expected, actually.
“However, I will not ignore the positive test and observe the quarantine measure.”
Two of Van der Heijden’s teammates also withdrew from the event as a precaution.
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In case you missed it
| How to organise a national championships in COVID-times
José Been takes us behind the scenes at the Dutch road championships to show what it takes to put on a race in These Troubled Times.
| The Tour de France starts next week, but should it?
We’re less than a week from the start of the rescheduled Tour de France and anticipation is building. But should the race even be going ahead? Iain Treloar investigates.
| 2021 Herald Sun Tour cancelled due to coronavirus uncertainty
Plenty of events have been cancelled in 2020 as a result of COVID-19. Now a race scheduled for next February has already been called off.
Today’s feature image comes from Cor Vos and shows Anna van der Breggen celebrating her first national road race title.