Originally fixed for Trento in September, the European Championships initially looked set to fall by the wayside when the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the cycling season, but the event managed to find a new host - Plouay - and a new slot on the revised calendar, shoehorned between a truncated national championships weekend and the Tour de France. Cycling politics, as if you weren't already aware, is a funny old game.
Although the new slot on the calendar - not to mention the strict coronavirus 'bubble' being enacted for the Tour - has reduced the depth of the European Championships field, there is considerable firepower on show in this afternoon's men's individual time trial. 2019 champion Remco Evenepoel is an unfortunate absentee due to the injuries he sustained in his crash at Il Lombardia, but his fellow Belgian Victor Campenaerts is a contender for the crown on the 25.6km course. Other men to watch include Ryan Mullen (Ireland), Alex Dowsett (Great Britain), Stefan Kung (Switzerland), Remi Cavagna (France) and Edoardo Affini (Italy).
28 riders have made the trip to Brittany to participate. Andrej Petrovski (North Macedonia) is the first man down the start ramp at 4.10pm local time, and riders set out an one-minute intervals with Dowsett (4.37pm) the last man off.
1 Andrej Petrovski (North Macedonia) 16:10:00
2 Mykhaylo Kononenko (Ukraine) 16:11:00
3 Emil Dima (Romania) 16:12:00
4 Alexander Konychev (Italy) 16:13:00
5 Polychronis Tzortzakis (Greece) 16:14:00
6 Justin Wolf (Germany) 16:15:00
7 Anthony Roux (France) 16:16:00
8 Andreas Miltiadis (Cyprus) 16:17:00
9 Vedad Karic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) 16:18:00
10 Jasper De Plus (Belgium) 16:19:00
11 Juri Hollmann (Germany) 16:20:00
12 Petr Rikunov (Russian Federation) 16:21:00
13 Rafael Reis (Portugal) 16:22:00
14 Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Poland) 16:23:00
15 Ryan Mullen (Ireland) 16:24:00
16 Artem Nych (Russian Federation) 16:25:00
17 Jan Andrej Cully (Slovakia) 16:26:00
18 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Portugal) 16:27:00
19 Jan Tratnik (Slovenia) 16:28:00
20 Rémi Cavagna (France) 16:29:00
21 Oleksandr Holovash (Ukraine) 16:30:00
22 Evaldas Siskevicius (Lithuania) 16:31:00
23 Claudio Imhof (Switzerland) 16:32:00
24 Jan Bárta (Czech Republic) 16:33:00
25 Victor Campenaerts (Belgium) 16:34:00
26 Edoardo Affini (Italy) 16:35:00
27 Stefan Küng (Switzerland) 16:36:00
28 Alex Dowsett (Great Britain) 16:37:00
Andrej Petrovski (North Macedonia) rolls down the start ramp to begin the elite men's time trial at the European Championships.
The fourth man to start is Alexander Konyshev, who is a neo-professional with Mitchelton-Scott. The son of four-time Tour stage winner Dimitri, who won two Worlds medals for Russia, Alexander Konyshev is competing for his native Italy.
The first starter for the host nation is Anthony Roux, who placed 6th in the French national time trial championships last week and who helped his Groupama-FDJ teammate Arnaud Demare to the road title yesterday.
In the absence of Evenepoel, Belgium's representatives today are Jasper De Plus, who has just started his effort, and Victor Campenaerts, who will be the fourth-last starter.
De Plus was 9th in the Belgian time trial championships last week, where Wout van Aert was a dominant winner. Van Aert, of course, is now ensconced in the Jumbo-Visma bubble ahead of the Tour, which gets underway on Saturday.
Ryan Mullen was a bronze medallist in the European Championships in 2017 and the Irishman is a strong medal contender here. He rolls down the start ramp and begins his effort.
Into the last ten starters as Jan Tratnik (Slovenia) begins his effort on the 26km course.
The first starters are through the intermediate check after 13.4km and the early pacesetter is Justin Wolf (Germany), who has 28 seconds in hand on Anthony Roux and 43 on Alexander Konyshev.
Victor Campenaerts (Belgium) and Edoardo Affini (Italy) have begun their efforts. Only two men have yet to start: Stefan Kung and Alex Dowsett.
Kung and Dowsett have each begun their efforts and we'll get a better idea of how this championship will play out once the late starters hit the intermediate check point.
Remi Cavagna is tackling the most technical section of what is a decidedly 'sporting' course, with the road constantly dipping and rising. The crowds out on the road, meanwhile, are sparse indeed.
Wolf is still the quickest man at 13.4km. Ryan Mullen has gone through the intermediate checkpoint with the second best time thus far, 3 seconds down on the German.
Andrej Petrovski (North Macedonia) crosses the line in 34:23 but his time woun't last long. Mykhaylo Kononenko (Ukraine) is almost upon him in the finishing straight and he comes home some 40 seconds quicker.
Alexander Konyshev (Italy) sets the new best time at the finish, 16 seconds up on Ononkenko.
Konyshev's time doesn't last long. Justin Wolf (Germany) crosses the line some 1:37 quicker than Konyshev. He clocked an average speed of 48.295kph, and he will be on the hot seat until the later starters reach the finish.
Anthony Roux can't get close to Wolf at the finish. He comes home 33 seconds down on the German.
Out on the course, meanwhile, word is reaching us that Remi Cavagna was some 45 seconds up on Wolf at the intermediate check.
Correction, Cavagna was 26 seconds up on Wolf. More to the point, he is 4 seconds up on Campenaerts at the 13.4km mark, though the Belgian has a habit of finishing very, very strongly indeed...
All of the riders are through the 13.4km mark and the top five is as follows at that point:
1 Stefan Kung (Swi) 00:14:21
2 Remi Cavagna (Fra) 00:00:06
3 Victor Campenaerts (Bel) 00:00:10
4 Edoardo Affini (Ita) 00:00:21
5 Alex Dowsett (GBr) 00:00:21
Kung has begun very, very strongly, but the gaps are tight and there are still two stiff climbs before the finish...
At the finish, Ryan Mullen gets closer than anyone to Justin Wolf's early mark, but the Irishman is still 11 seconds down on the German.
Stefan Kung is turning over a mammoth gear and he is looking very fluid indeed as he hurtles through the second part of the course. He was 6 seconds up on Cavagna and 10 up on Campenaerts at the 13.4km mark.
Campenaerts, meanwhile, has caught and passed Jan Barta with 9km to go. The Belgian looks to be building up a head of steam, as is his wont.
At the finish, Remi Cavagna sets a new benchmark. The Frenchman is some 1:13 clear of Justin Wolf and he covered the course at an average speed of 50.317kph.
Out on the course, meanwhile, Campenaerts has caught his two-minute man Claudio Imhof (Switerland), while Kung has picked off his minute man Affini.
Stefan Kung is on the climbs towards Restergal and he hasn't even broken from his aerodynamic position to tackle the gradient.
Victor Campenaerts can't match Cavagna's time at the finish. He comes home 4 seconds down on the Frenchman, who remains in the hotseat...
Surely only Kung can deny Cavagna the title, and the Swiss rider doesn't look to have relented in the second half of the course...
Into the final kilometre for Küng, who looks every inch a European champion in waiting...
New best time from Stefan Küng, some 17 seconds up on Cavagna. The Swiss rider's average speed was 50.689kph.
Alex Dowsett is the only man left to finish and he would need to have produced something remarkable to claw back his deficit on the Swiss rider over the back end of the course.
Stefan Küng is European time trial title.
Remi Cavagna will take silver, while Victor Campenaerts takes bronze. Dowsett did enough for fourth, just ahead of Edoardo Affini.
1 Stefan Küng (Switzerland) 00:30:18.11
2 Rémi Cavagna (France) 00:00:17.11
3 Victor Campenaerts (Belgium) 00:00:21.30
4 Alex Dowsett (Great Britain) 00:01:03.52
5 Edoardo Affini (Italy) 00:01:15.11
6 Jan Tratnik (Slovenia) 00:01:26.11
7 Justin Wolf (Germany) 00:01:30.12
8 Ryan Mullen (Ireland) 00:01:41.35
9 Jan Barta (Czech Republic) 00:01:43.77
10 Anthony Roux (France) 00:02:03.59
Stefan Küng on his European title: "I had really good legs. I did the Dauphiné, that was my last race and every day was climbing. When I changed to the TT bike last week, in the first training I did, I really didn’t have a good feeling. But I kept getting better and better and today was the best feeling I had. It was a great day, I was prepared perfectly, and the bike was perfect too, thanks to my mechanic and the team.
"The course was typical for a race in Brittany. The road surface is pretty rough, it’s always twisting and up and down, so you always have to keep pushing and keep focused. I really like this, it’s just an honest time trial where you have to go full gas from start to finish. I had a plan in mind and I was able to execute it perfectly.
"Tomorrow, I leave directly for the Tour and then it’s three weeks about supporting Thibaut Pinot. Hopefully it will end in a good way on the Champs-Élysées. I’m just really happy we can race again."
That's Küng's seventh win since he signed for Groupama-FDJ from BMC ahead of the 2019 season. The Swiss rider has also picked up a bronze medal at the Worlds road race in that time, provided some very useful firepower in the cobbled Classics and served as a vital bodyguard for Thibaut Pinot on the flat. It's proved a very solid piece of business from Marc Madiot's team.
Thanks for joining our live coverage on Cyclingnews this afternoon. A full report, results and pictures are available here.
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