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European Championships: Elite Women'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. 

It's a rainy day in Brittany but the racing has been intense so far.  

The riders have covered three laps of the 12km Plouay circuit and face another five laps.

The race will cover a total of 109km. 

There are a total of 95 riders in the race. However an early crash saw around 20 riders go down hard.  

This was the roll out from the start in the rain.

This tweet shows the tough weather conditions the riders face today.

Fortunately the weather is improving and we have a peloton of 30 riders chasing the attackers.  

There are 63km left to race and so it's a delicate moment in the race. There are some strong riders up front, including two from the Netherlands and two from Italy. 

Up front are Cordon-Ragot, Blaak, Brennauer, Chabey, Demey, Vollering, Lach, H Barnes, Majerus, Paladin and Cecchini. 

The gap between the break and the peloton is now 45 seconds.

Earlier the U23 men also raced in the rain, with Jonas Iversby Hvideberg of Norway dominating the finish. 

The biggest names in women's racing are on the front of the peloton but the gap to the break is rising.

Behind the Dutch riders are attacking and have split the peloton. Van der Breggen has dragged a group clear. 

Van Vleuten joins them, making four Ditch riders in the chase. There are also two in the break.  

As the race hits the finish area, the chasers are 15 seconds down on the 11 attackers. The peloton is 20 seconds further back.

The 13km circuit includes three short climbs and other rolling roads that inspire attacks and chases. 

Indeed the 11 have been joined by the chasers as each attack and each climbs makes a further selection.

The Netherlands are sending riders on the attack one after another. 

These are just some of thew names now in the front group: 

50km to go

The Netherlands have a huge numerical advantage. They have 7 riders in the 23-rider move. Italy has 4 and Great Britain 2. 

The pace has slowed as the riders wait for the hardest parts of the 13km circuit.

Behind Denmark is leading the chase behind but it will be difficult for them.

Now van Vleuten ups the pace but others are on her wheel. 

The group dives down to the finish area. They face three more laps, so 40km of racing.

The chasers are now 50 seconds back. The race will be fought out by the 23 riders up front.  

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Italy have 4 riders up front but their sprinter and arguably team leader Marta Bastianelli is stick behind in the chase group.

Van Vleuten lines out the front group again but puts here own teammates into the red.

Crash! 

 There was a touch of wheels and several riders went down at speed on the wet roads. 

35km to go

There are only 12 or so riders left up front now.

Van Vleuten attacks again! 

Longo Borghini chases and joins Van Vleuten. 

Niewadoma is also there for Poland. The others are further behind. 

The chase group has split behind. This is aggressive racing.

Up front Niewadoma, Van Vleuten and Longo Borghini are working together. 

These are the riders up front: 

But now the chase group has eased up.  

The trio lead by just 24 seconds. They're working together with two laps to race.   

There are some chasers between the lead trio and the chase group.  

Ludwig is the most aggressive behind as she tries to jump across or at least close the gap to the trio. 

Ludwig's surges is inspiring the chase and other riders are helping with the work. 

Chantal van den Broek-Blaak has attacked from the chase group to try to go across to the Van Vleuten, Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma attack. 

The chase group has eased up now as they reach the 20km to go point. 

16km to go and the gap to the chasers is up to 1:00. This is now a four-rider race.

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The bell rings out for the final lap. 13km to go. 

The sun comes out as the chases pass the finish but they are now 50 seconds behind.

These were the terrible conditions at the start.

These were the terrible conditions at the start. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Up front we have the Dutch duo of Van Vleuten and Blaak and then Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma.   

Longo Borghini attacks! 

The Italian got a gap on the longest climb but Van Vleuten is there, as is Niewiadoma.  

Blaak has been dropped. That was a clever attack from the Italian after Blaak made a big effort to get across to them. 

Attack van Vleuten!

Niewiadoma has cracked but Longo Borghini is trying to close the gap.  

There is just 9km to go. 

This was Van Vleuten's attack. 

7km to go.  

5km to go.

The last climb of Pont Neuf will be decisive and surely see attacks. 

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Longo Borghini attacks! 

Blaak is dropped. 

Even Van Vleuten is struggling to hold the way.

But she digs deep and makes her own attack. Longo Borghini is on her wheel.

Niewiadoma is distanced but is chasing. 

2km to go! 

1km to go. 

Longo Borghini does a turn to keep the speed high. 

Van Vleuten jumps first. 

Van Vleuten holds on as the road rises and wins the European title!

The world champion went deep and Longo Borghini couldn't stay in her slipstream and fight back.  

Niewiadoma distanced Blaak behind to take the bronze medal. 

Cordon-Ragot has attacked and so takes fifth place.

The other riders sprint for sixth place.

Van Vleuten can hardly believe she's won after such an intense battle with Longo Borghini. 

Van Vleuten confirmed she will race for another two years but did not say with which team. 

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Brief results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) 2:50:46
2Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)
3Kasia Niewiadoma (Poland) 0:00:05
4Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Netherlands)
5Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France) 0:02:29
6Lisa Brennauer (Germany) 0:03:27
7Lotte Kopecky (Belgium)
8Marianne Vos (Netherlands)
9Elena Cecchini (Italy)
10Amy Pieters (Netherlands)

The Netherlands tactics seemed complex and possibly in conflict but Van Vleuten praised her team after his victory. 

On the podium, Van Vleuten pulls on the European jersey herself due to the COVID-19 protocol but she's happy and sings the Netherlands national anthem. 

Of course, as world champion, Van Vleuten will not wear the European champion's jersey, as the rainbow jersey has priority in races. 

6 wins in 8 races. That's an incredible strike rate from Van Vleuten. 

Here's the moment Van Vleuten hits the finish line in Plouay, with Longo Borghini just behind her. 

And this is the video of the sprint finish.

Th rain made for a hard and ultimately selective race in Plouay. 

To see our growing photo gallery, race report and results, click this link:

We're also live from the Tour de France Grand Depart in Nice, with all the latest news, interviews, photos and social posts. 

Security and COVID-19 measures are tight in Nice to keep everyone safe.

 Despite finishing second, Italy and Elisa Longo Borghini rightly celebrated their place on the podium. 

To read Kirsten Frattini's full  race report and to see our photo gallery and full results, click on this link:

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