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European Championships: Elite Men's Road Race – Live report

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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the UEC European Road Championships in Plouay, France. 

Today sees the elite men fight for the distinctive jersey and we'll have all the action from the race.

The rain of yesterday has moved away from Brittany and were set for a dry 177km race.

As the Cyclingnews blimp takes height, we can see the Belgian and Italian teams on the front of the start grid.

It seems there is at least one non-starter. Team Nippo Delko have announced that due to a a suspect COVID-19 case, their rider Eduard Grosu will not start as part of the Romanian team. 

Arnaud Demare leads the French team on home turf. He was given protected status ahead of Nacer Bouhanni after his recent run of victories.

We will see if the powerful Groupama-FDJ sprinter can handle the rolling circuit around Plouay.

With the Tour de France due to start on Saturday, a number of big-name riders are missing from the final start list. 

However it will still be a finally balanced race as the likes of Greg van Avermaet and Mathieu van der Poel try to stop the likes of Arnaud Demare of France and Italy's Giacomo Nizzolo from winning a sprint finish. 

A total of 142 riders have started. Other DNS are Jempy Drucker (Luxembourg) and Patrick Gamper (Austria).

This is the Belgian team, which also has different sprint options in Jasper Philipsen and Jasper Stuyven, with Oliver Naesen there as an alternative to Greg van Avermaet. 

The riders have to cover 12 laps of the 13km circuit today. The rolling country road probably won't hurt at first but the lactic will surely accumulate over time, as the attacks come.

After the first lap, four riders have gone away. 

They are Pawel Bernas (Poland), Andreas Miltiadis (Cyprus), Dusan Rajovic (Serbia) and Emil Dima (Romania). 

The four lead the peloton by 2:15.

Yesterday saw the men's and women'a Bretagne Classics WorldTour races. 

Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) won the men's race. 

Click below to read our full report and check out our photo gallery and full results.

Matthews wins Bretagne Classic - Ouest-France

Here's the early break of the race.

151km to go

The race has evolved into a steady pattern before the finale, with the break being kept under control, with the Italian and Belgian teams, leading the peloton at 2:30.  

Norway is also helping with the chase, they have Alexander Kristoff as protected leader today.

This is the peloton as it chases the break after two laps of the 13km Plouay circuit. 

This UEC video shows how the riders signed on and lined up for the start earlier. There was a crowd at the start but with everyone wearing a face mask. 

135km to go

The peloton has pulled the attack back to below two minutes. The 4 now lead by 1:30.

Germany could also be a threat today, with Pascal Ackermann their protected sprinter/leader for the finish. He can count on Bora-Hansgrohe teammates Selig, Schwarzmann and Schillinger to protect him. 

Indeed, Germany is also helping to chase the four-rider break.

After 4 of the 13 laps, the four attackers lead the peloton by 3:45. The peloton seems to have eased the chase slightly, knowing they four do not represent a major threat.

Our photographers were at the start and got shots of the riders as they rolled out.

Alexander Kristoff lead the Norway team

Alexander Kristoff lead the Norway team (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The Italian team are ready to roll

The Italian team are ready to roll (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The elite men roll out from the start

The elite men roll out from the start (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Greg van Avermaet seemed ready to lead Belgium

Greg van Avermaet seemed ready to lead Belgium (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Mathieu van der Poel was hoping to take another championship jersey

Mathieu van der Poel was hoping to swap orange for another championship jersey (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The riders faced 13 laps of the Plouay circuit for a total of 177km

The riders faced 13 laps of the Plouay circuit for a total of 177km (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Who will win under the finishing banner later today?

Who will win under the finishing banner later today? (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The riders are about to pass through the finish after 5 of the 13 laps.

Elia Viviani won the 2019 European championships. He would have been a contender today. However his Cofidis team insisted he did not leave the team's Tour de France bubble and so he pulled out of the Italian team. 

Sonny Colbrelli also had to miss the race, as did a few others. 

However Nizzolo will go on to ride the Tour de France with NTT and will fly to Nice tonight, along with other riders, for the Grand Depart. 

For similar reasons, there is no Denmark team and Peter Sagan is not part of the Slovakian team. His brother Juraj flies the flag for the family today. 

105km to go

Peter Sagan was the first European champion in 2016. Alexander Kristoff won in 2017 and Matteo Trentin win in 2018. Elia Viviani took the title in 2019.

Crash! A touch of wheels sees several riders go down.

The roads are narrow and twisting, making crashes a risk of the racing.

100km to go

The peloton is spread down the road as the gap falls below 2:00 with 100km to race.

The break passes through the feed zone with 94km to go. The peloton is at 1:30 and so is likely to ease soon, to stop other attacks going clear. 

Italy and Germany are leading the chase. 

We can see four Italians up front now: Boaro, Visconti, Trentin and Ballerini. 

Italy continue to lead the chase with Germany and the gap has fallen to 1:00. 

With 85km to the speed has increased in the peloton as the Netherlands hits the front.

The break passes through the finish to start the seventh of 13 laps. The peloton can see them now and is only 35 seconds back. 

Six laps to go! The race is about to change.

Up front the break has split after an acceleration from Bernas. There are only 3 riders in the break now.  

Italy continues to ride 'tempo' on the front of the peloton with 75km to go. the trio up front lead by just 30 seconds. 

Van den Berg of the Netherlands has attacked but Italy soon pulls him back. 

The trio up front continue to push on and have extended their lead to 45 seconds as they reach the finish with 5 laps and 68km to race.  

Crash! A ripple in the peloton sparks a big crash.

Riders long the barriers had to no where to go and went down hard. Others crashed into them. 

Italy was ahead of the crash and so avoided the chaos.

Hayter and Walls from Great Britain were caught in the crash.

Initially reports say Jasper Philipsen of Belgium has been forced to abandon the race after the crash.

France has moved to the front of the peloton as just Bernas and Dima lead by just 20 seconds.   

The roads are narrow and twisting at this point, making for a nervous ride in the peloton. 

Just Bernas remains up front now as France keeps the pace high and leads the chase of a lone Spanish rider. 

The peloton passes through the finish once again and sprint for the tight turn 300m past the line. 

Belgium are trying to hurt the sprinters now, with Sep Vanmarcke doing a huge turn on the front as the road rises.

Van der Poel makes a surge on the front but is marked by Italy and France.

50km to go

We can expect attacks and chases all the way to the finish now. 

Four riders have edged clear, including David van der Poel, but France and Italy are leading the chase. 

The pace is causing riders to be spat out of the back of the peloton. 

France seem determined to try to control the race today in the hope Demare can win the sprint. However the route and their rivals will make it very difficult.

Ten laps done. Three to race.

Italy won the sprint to the tight left corner but Belgium again hit the front to up the pace. Vanmarcke surges again to try to hurt the sprinters in the group behind him.

Van Avermaet attacks!

Ulissi and Ballerini mark van Avermaet for Italy but the speed and tension is high. 

There are three cotes or climbs on the 13km circuit but the roads twist and roll through the Brittany countryside. Every effort hurts.

Jasper Stuyven of Belgium jumps across to the four-rider breakaway but the peloton is only five seconds behind them. 

This was van Avermaet's attack but he was soon chased down.

Stuyven has pushed on alone from the break but the peloton is chasing. After losing Philipsen, Belgium have to ride an aggressive race but this does not seem the best way to do it.  

Belgium are not having a great race after national coach Rik Verbruggen was sent home for violating the COVID-19 rules by eating at a restaurant instead of his hotel.

Attack van der Poel! 

The race has split again under the effort of MvdP's attack. 

There are ten riders in a front group but the French are chasing at the head of the peloton.

There are two laps and 25km to race.

Van der Poel attacks again!

Trentin is able to follow him and Benoît Cosnefroy of France is there too. 

The front group comes back together as riders grab bidons. 25km to go.

20km to go

The sprinters are suffering after all the attacks. 

Sven Erik Bystrøm and Matteo Trentin open a gap but van der Poel has attacked behind.

This is a downhill section of the circuit by MvdP hits the front and keeps the speed high.

Other riders are coming across to the attack.

Johan Jacobs of Switzerland chips off the front but he's pulled back. The major nations seems to have eased up to assess and decide their tactics for the finish. 

Ride for a sprint or go with the attacks? Italy, France and other nations will have to decide which is the best option.

Last lap. The bell rings as the riders dive down the descent to the finish area. 13km to go!  

Italy have at least 4 riders up front and they seem to be protecting Nizzolo's chances. 

The road kicks up on the Cote deu Lozet. But the pace has eased. 

There are 50 or so riders in the front group. Demare is there for France, Nizzolo for Italy.  

The Dutch riders are massing on the front.  

Norway's Markus Hoelgaard has a slight gap but the peloton can see him.

Behind the sprint trains are forming with 8km to race.

Italy has five riders for Nizzolo, Demare has two French teammates, while Belgium moves up to protect Stuyven. Pascal Ackermann has fewer German teammates but is there and ready to sprint.

6km to go.

Nizzolo is already on Demare's wheel. Will that be the sprint off? 

4km to go. 

Italy has decided to take control of the peloton.

They hit the Cote du Pont-Neuf.

Markus Hoelgaard leads by five seconds but the pace is high behind.

Ulissi leads for Italy. 

Italy has Cimolai as leadout man. Surely Nizzolo is there too. 

2km to go! 

Pidcock attacks ! 

Trentin closes down the Pidock attack.  

Last KM. 

Here we go. sprint!

Demare is on Nizzolo's wheel.

Nizzolo or Demare

We'll need a photo finish to decide. 

Nizzolo wins it! 

Van der Poel came from behind at speed but ran out of road. 

The Italians are celebrating together as Demare sportingly congratulates Nizzolo. Chapeau to him. 

Ackermann tried to go on Demare's right but lacked the speed to win.

The photo finish showed Nizzolo won it by several inches. 

Nizzolo has a lower, more aerodynamic position and can push his sprint for longer. That made a difference today.

As the Italians celebrate, Demare is hugely disappointed.

It's Italy third consecutive European road race title after Trentin and Viviani.

Nizzolo won the Italian national title at the weekend but will now not be able to wear the red, white and green tricolore jersey. Instead he will wear the white European champion's jersey that is decorated with gold stars and European blue stripes. 

These are the top ten results:

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Giacomo Nizzolo (Italy) 4:12:23
2Arnaud Demare (France)
3Pascal Ackermann (Germany)
4Mathieu Van der Poel (Netherlands)
5Jasper Stuyven (Belgiuim)
6Davide Ballerini (Italy)
7Maciej Paterski (Poland)
8Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spain)
9Adam Toupalik (Czech Republic)
10Benoit Cosnefroy (France)

Nizzolo was proud to have finished off the work of the Italian team. 

"It’s been an incredible day. I had an amazing lead out from the team but honestly all day they worked perfectly," he said.

"It was really close and I thought I didn’t do a good jump but in the end I was lucky.I lost this race by this much a few years ago but today I won and I’m so happy."

Nizzolo has to pull on the European champion's jersey himself due to the COVID-19 protocol. But he's happy to do that and holds out his medal before the Italian national anthem rings out across Brittany. 

The Italian Federation is quick to tweet the video of Nizzolo's win. 

This is the first photo of Nizzolo's winning sprint.  

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's been a successful day for Italy in Brittany. Elisa Balsamo won the women's Under 23 title in a sprint and now Nizzolo has taken the men's title. 

Tomorrow see the U23 men's and elite women's races, while the Junior men's and junior women's races and the Team Relay will be held on Friday.  

PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 26 Diego Ulissi of Italy Giacomo Nizzolo of Italy Cyril Gautier of France Davide Ballerini of Italy Oliver Naesen of Belgium during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Mens Elite a 17745km race from Plouay to Plouay UECcycling EuroRoad20 on August 26 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

This shot shows how the Italians worked as a team  (Image credit: Getty Images)

When it became clear with a lap to go that the attacks would not split the peloton or distance the strongest sprinters, Italy worked for Nizzolo and gave him a superb lead out.

The Italian Federation have also created a overhead video of the sprint.

PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 26 Arrival Giacomo Nizzolo of Italy Celebration during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Mens Elite a 17745km race from Plouay to Plouay UECcycling EuroRoad20 on August 26 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Giacomo Nizzolo celebrates his victory at the European championships (Image credit: Getty Images)

PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 26 Podium Giacomo Nizzolo of Italy Gold Medal European Champion Jersey Celebration during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Mens Elite a 17745km race from Plouay to Plouay UECcycling EuroRoad20 on August 26 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Here's Nizzolo in the new European Champion's jersey (Image credit: Getty Images)

To see our growing photo gallery from the race and read our full race report, click below. 

European Championships: Nizzolo wins elite men's road race title

Thanks for joining us for our live coverage from the European Championships. We'll be back tomorrow with more live race coverage and our live coverage from the Tour de France Grand Depart.

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