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Kristoff takes elite men's European road race title

Alexander Kristoff (Norway) used his experience, his power and his sprinting skills to win the European road race championships in Herning, Denmark, beating Elia Viviani (Italy) after a close sprint along the barriers.

Kristoff led out the sprint into the headwind, and left enough room for Viviani to come up along the barriers but squeezed the gap just enough as the barriers followed an irregular curve so that the Italian hesitated slightly. Kristoff and Viviani went shoulder to shoulder in the final metres, even touching at one point before both made a desperate bike throw at the finish line. Viviani seemed to be in front but Kristoff made a final lunge and the photo finish showed that he won it by a tyre width.

Moreno Hofland (Netherlands) finished third a bike length behind, with Pascal Ackermann (Germany) fourth and Luka Mezgec (Slovenia) fifth.

Viviani was not happy that Kristoff squeezed him so close to the barriers. He waved his finger in protest but after judges watched several replays of the sprint, they confirmed Kristoff as the new European champion. He will now wear the distinctive white and blue European champion's jersey for the next 12 months.

"I'm happy to be the winner. To win with such a small margin is always thrilling, but it's great to be the winner," Kristoff said, insisting he had ridden a clean sprint.

"Italy had a good team and a strong lead out for Viviani. I started a bit earlier than him and I went to the right side. Then he tried to come on the inside. I didn't feel like I did anything wrong, but he tried to take a small hole. I didn't let him take the hole and he didn't really have the space to pass me there. In the end, it was really close. I think he was disappointed but I did not feel like I did anything wrong, I felt my sprint was more or less straight."

Kristoff has endured a difficult season at Katusha-Alpecin. He struggled to land a big win in the Classics and was criticised by team management for being overweight. He fought for stage victories at the Tour de France but his best result was second on stage 4.

However, he is certainly a fighter and bounced back to win the RideLondon Surrey Classic WorldTour race last Sunday. Now he has added the European title to his palmares. During the week the UAE Team Emirates squad announced that Kristoff would leave Katusha-Alpecin for their team for the 2018 season, pending a medical check-up. He celebrated his 30th birthday after the Tour de France and is now looking forward to the world championships at home in Bergen, Norway at the end of September.

"Now, the next goal is the World Championship for sure," he said. "We'll do the Arctic Tour of Norway, Hamburg, Plouay and the Tour of Britain before then. For sure there are enough races to try to win."

Kristoff emerged for the sprint after 241km of intense racing. The 20km circuit around Herning was fast but included several exposed sections that inspired attacks in the wind and some testing farm tracks that shook out the peloton.

The first half of the race was characterised by a three-rider break by Lukas Spengler (Switzerland), Nikolai Shumov (Belarus) and Anton Orn Elfarsson (Iceland). They managed to open a 12-minute gap but the peloton began to chase them, with the Danish, Norwegian and Italian teams doing the work.

Belgium and Denmark had promised to make the race hard and did so, splitting the peloton with 100km to go. Viviani missed the move and Boasson Hagen was caught behind after a puncture, sparking a hectic chase by the Italians behind as Belgium and Denmark drove the front group along and quickly swept up the early break.

It was a crucial moment in the race but the Italians stayed calm and united, working together to gradually close the gap. The peloton came back together with 80km to go.

A lap later Jens Keukeleire (Belgium) and Imanol Erviti (Spain) jumped away and were soon joined by Pirmin Lang (Switzerland). They opened a 30-second gap but Italy wisely let them hang out front to avoid further attacks.

The race returned gruppo compatto with 38km to go, with numerous riders forced to chase after flats caused by the rough road surface.

Keukeleire and Boasson Hagen tried to drag an attack clear but the sprinter's teams became more and more confident it was going to be their day. Luis Leon Sanchez tried his hand with 10km to go but the move was quickly brought to heel. However, Keukeleire attacked on a rise and got a gap with Boasson Hagen. They were joined by Nikolay Trusov (Russia).

Suddenly it was a pursuit match for the final seven kilometres. The stronger nations hesitated and so the trio opened a 200-metre gap and took advantage of a tailwind.

The French team eventually hit the front in pursuit, bringing the gap down before the Italians took over. Boasson Hagen refused to give up hope and made a solo attack with a kilometre to go. He was strong and fast but there was little he could do in the strong headwind in the finishing straight.

The peloton caught him with 300 metres to go, with a crash taking down riders and ruining the chances of others.

Kristoff was perfectly placed, as was Viviani. But the Italian hesitated before diving into the tight gap along the barriers. Kristoff kept his line but squeezed the gap just enough, so that he, and not Viviani, was first to the line.

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Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexander Kristoff (Norway)5:41:10
2Elia Viviani (Italy)
3Moreno Hofland (Netherlands)
4Pascal Ackermann (Germany)
5Luka Mezgec (Slovenia)
6Edward Theuns (Belgium)
7Aksel Nõmmela (Estonia)
8Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spain)
9Pawel Franczak (Poland)
10Michal Kolár (Slovakia)
11Sam Bennett (Ireland)
12Erik Baska (Slovakia)
13Emils Liepins (Latvia)
14Bryan Coquard (France)
15Ivan Savitckii (Russian Federation)
16Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spain)
17Jens Debusschere (Belgium)
18Luka Pibernik (Slovenia)
19Daniel Auer (Austria)
20Eugert Zhupa (Albania)
21Fabio Sabatini (Italy)
22Wouter Wippert (Netherlands)
23Jonas Koch (Germany)
24Jose Rojas (Spain)
25Magnus Cort Nielsen (Denmark)
26Ylber Sefa (Albania)0:00:09
27Patrik Tybor (Slovakia)
28Maciej Paterski (Poland)
29Koen De Kort (Netherlands)
30František Sisr (Czech Republic)
31Krisztián Lovassy (Hungary)
32Gediminas Bagdonas (Lithuania)
33Josef Cerný (Czech Republic)
34Matthias Reutimann (Switzerland)
35Tiago Machado (Portugal)0:00:12
36Sven Erik Bystrøm (Norway)0:00:13
37Daniel Hoelgaard (Norway)
38Lars Bak Ytting (Denmark)
39Jan Bárta (Czech Republic)
40Mario Vogt (Germany)
41Jan-André Freuler (Switzerland)
42Joshua Huppertz (Germany)
43Charalampos Kastrantas (Greece)
44Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway)
45Victor De La Parte (Spain)
46Anthony Roux (France)
47Ahmet Orken (Turkey)
48Alexander Krieger (Germany)0:00:17
49Sergei Shilov (Russian Federation)
50Matej Mohoric (Slovenia)0:00:21
51Maris Bogdanovics (Latvia)0:00:27
52Hector Carretero (Spain)
53Hugo Hofstetter (France)
54Imanol Erviti (Spain)
55Nikolas Maes (Belgium)
56Maurits Lammertink (Netherlands)
57Luis León Sanchez (Spain)
58Jon Irisarri Rincon (Spain)
59Sean Mckenna (Ireland)
60Lukas Spengler (Switzerland)
61Michal Golas (Poland)
62Kamil Gradek (Poland)
63Truls Korsæth (Norway)0:00:31
64Nico Denz (Germany)
65Markus Eibegger (Austria)
66Roberto Ferrari (Italy)
67Michael Morkov (Denmark)0:00:35
68Jacopo Guarnieri (Italy)
69José Mendes (Portugal)0:00:37
70Pirmin Lang (Switzerland)0:00:38
71Marco Mathis (Germany)
72Mickael Delage (France)
73Kevin Ledanois (France)
74Iljo Keisse (Belgium)0:00:45
75Andre Looij (Netherlands)
76Maarten Wynants (Belgium)
77Bert Van Lerberghe (Belgium)
78Jasper De Buyst (Belgium)
79Paulius Siskevicius (Lithuania)
80Lars Van Der Haar (Netherlands)
81Wim Stroetinga (Netherlands)
82Jesus Herrada (Spain)0:00:50
83Steven Lammertink (Netherlands)
84Jelle Wallays (Belgium)0:00:54
85Karol Domagalski (Poland)
86Salvatore Puccio (Italy)0:00:57
87Pawel Bernas (Poland)0:00:59
88Davide Ballerini (Italy)
89Rok Korošec (Slovenia)
90Clement Venturini (France)0:01:04
91Matti Breschel (Denmark)0:01:19
92Jens Keukeleire (Belgium)0:01:29
93Nikolai Shumov (Belarus)0:01:33
94Mads Würtz Schmidt (Denmark)
95Daniel Crista (Romania)0:01:46
96Davide Cimolai (Italy)0:01:50
97Raphael Freienstein (Germany)0:02:04
98Nikolay Trusov (Russian Federation)
99Artur Ershov (Russian Federation)
100Péter Kusztor (Hungary)0:02:06
101Juraj Sagan (Slovakia)0:02:13
102Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Russian Federation)0:02:41
103Alexander Porsev (Russian Federation)
104Alois Kankovský (Czech Republic)
105Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Norway)0:02:47
106Grzegorz Stepniak (Poland)
107Flavien Dassonville (France)0:03:39
108Roland Thalmann (Switzerland)
109Dylan Page (Switzerland)
110Simone Consonni (Italy)
111Christopher Juul Jensen (Denmark)
112Damien Shaw (Ireland)
113Alo Jakin (Estonia)0:03:44
114Matej Mugerli (Slovenia)0:04:28
115August Jensen (Norway)
116David Per (Slovenia)
117Marko Kump (Slovenia)
118Torkil Veyhe (Denmark)0:04:44
119Nicolai Nielsen (Denmark)
120Alexander Kamp (Denmark)
121Benjamin Thomas (France)0:04:45
122Johan Le Bon (France)0:04:47
123Andris Vosekalns (Latvia)0:10:42
124Jonas Rapp (Germany)0:11:43
125Nazim Bakirci (Turkey)
DNFFilippo Ganna (Italy)
DNSNick Van Der Lijke (Netherlands)
DNFAdrian Banaszek (Poland)
DNFMarcin Bialoblocki (Poland)
DNSSondre Enger (Norway)
DNFJan Tratnik (Slovenia)
DNFMarek Canecky (Slovakia)
DNFFilip Taragel (Slovakia)
DNSRyan Mullen (Ireland)
DNSRúben Guerreiro (Portugal)
DNFRafael Reis (Portugal)
DNFMartin Laas (Estonia)
DNFMuhammet Atalay (Turkey)
DNFFeritcan Samli (Turkey)
DNSAleksandar Aleksiev (Bulgaria)
DNSZsolt Dér (Hungary)
DNFEduard Michael Grosu (Romania)
DNFNicolae Tanovitchii (Republic of Moldova)
DNFXhuliano Kamberaj (Albania)
DNFOscar Cabanas Quintela (Andorra)
DNFAlbert Gómez Genies (Andorra)
DNFJulio Pintado Madrigal (Andorra)
DNFAnton Örn Elfarsson (Iceland)
DNSGoran Cerovic (Montenegro)

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