Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the elite men's European Championship.
We'll have all the action from the 179.2km race in Trento, Italy.
As the Cyclingnews blimp takes height, the riders are sihning on in Trento.
The 172.9km elite men’s road race also covers eight laps but after an opening loop through the Valle dei Laghi and the climb of the iconic Monte Bondone that overlooks Trento.
Monte Bondone could inspire long-range attacks to distance the sprinters but the Trento circuits are expected to inspire the decisive racing.
The 150 riders are now rolling out of the centre of Trento and riding towards the official start, 3km out of town.
Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar stands out the elite men’s start list but his Slovenian teammate Matej Mohoric showed his form at the recent Benelux Tour and could emerge as team leader.
Italy are chasing a fourth consecutive victory after Matteo Trentin, Elia Viviani and Giacomo Nizzolo and hope that Trentin and Sonny Colbrelli can deliver. Both are on form and will have support from Ganna, local resident Gianni Moscon and Diego Ulissi.
Peter Sagan could be a threat and his three world titles and 2016 European title confirm he knows how to win circuit races. Evenepoel has been selected for the Belgian team for the World Championships and will be looking to prove a point in both the time trial and road race.
Other names to watch are Norway’s Alexander Kristoff, recent Bretagne Classics winner Benoît Cosnefroy of France and the returning to form Thibaut Pinot. Bauke Mollema leads the Dutch team, while Ivan Cortina leads Spain and Vuelta revelation Gino Mäder has been selected for the Swiss team, alongside Marc Hirschi.
The riders are packed tight behind the race directors car and the motorbikes.
🔎🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/Q8ltvrAr0zSeptember 12, 2021
The race director waves the flag and so they're off!
179.2km to go.
As the riders start the loop out of Trento towards the lakes and the climb of Monte Bondone, we have the first attacks.
Spain is trying to spark an early breakaway.
The pace is high.
The riders are on a rolling valley road. The pace is high as different riders try to drag a break clear.
Lots of nations seem keen to place riders in the early break.
170km to go
Now France try to force a move.
The pace is high and riders are riders are being dropped. They include Ireland's Sam Bennett, who is racing for the first time since before the injury that forced him to miss the Tour de France.
Two French riders are in a four-rider move.
The riders are near Terlago, where many of the best grappa producers are based. Grappa is the local distilled alcoholic drink made from the grapes squeezed to make wine.
The four have a 20-second gap.
The peloton has slowed and seems to have let the break go clear.
As the pace eases, Bennett and others get back on.
The break has extended its lead to 1:00.
The four are: Franck Bonnamour and Aurelien Paret-Peintre (France), Antonio Soto (spain) and Harm Vanhoucke (Belgium).
It will be up to the Italian, Ditch, German and other nations to lead the chase.
Italy and Slovenia are leading the chase, as the gap touches 1:30.
The race is on the plain near Terlago lake but will return to the early climbs.
The chase has reduced the gap to the four to just 50 seconds.
Matteo Cattaneo is doing the hard work for Italy.
150km to go
The views across the lakes and rivers of Trentino are stunning.
The race is on a more rocky, barren section as the road climbs upwards.
The road will soon turn left and begin to climb the lower slopes of Monte Bondone.
The road will climb to Vigo Cavadine for 5km and so we expect attacks from nations looking to distance some of the sprinters.
The sprint teams like Italy will ride steady and control the race.
There are more attacks, with Thibaut Pinot also on the move for France.
Pinot makes it across to the break, giving France three riders up front.
Other riders are coming too. But Italy appears to have had a mechanical problem for a leader and so are not up there.
Spain has 5 riders chasing the Pinot attack.
Italy are now on the front but they will have to close a 30-second gap.
The Monte Bondone climb will start soon, so will the battle to blow the race apart.
Andrea Bagioli surges across the gap to give Italy a rider in the attack.
Other riders are coming across to the Pinot group as the road rises and rides take bidons from the roadside.
Belgium do not seem happy with the situation and so are riding on the front of the peloton.
They are only 20 seconds down on the attack, with Victor Campanaerts doing big licks on the front.
Interestingly, Evenepoel is on his wheel, protected but well up front.
Pinot, Bonnamour, Paret-Peintre and Vanhoucke have been joined by Rapp, Izagirre, Bagioli, Rapp, Grossschartner, Reichenbach, Landa, Soto and De La Cruz.
But the peloton is closing them down. Italy is riding on the front now but there is also a tactical game going in between Italy and Belgium.
This sums up the racing so far. It's been non-stop and tactical.
#EuroRoad21 is bonkers! The peloton wasn't content with that breakaway, and upped the pace on the second climb, several riders taking advantage of this to attack. Among them, our very own @AndreaBagioli, a two-time stage podium finisher at #LaVuelta21.September 12, 2021
Italy eased up the pace, allowing the gap to rise to 1:00 but now there are more attacks from Germany and Portugal, who missed the attack.
The roads descends for a little longer but then the 14km Monte Bondone climb will begin.
This race could go anyway: the best sprinters could stay in touch of the front of the race or the quality break could surge away from the peloton and stay away on the eight circuits of Trento.
Philippe Gilbert and Gianni Vermeersch are in a group behind the peloton. Gilbert dropped his chain as the race exploded.
Is their European Championship over before it even started? Belgium will be weaker if they don't get back on.
There are only 80 or so riders in the peloton. That indicates how aggressive the racing has been on the valley loop.
Franck Bonnamour is giving his all on the front of the 12-rider break to push out their lead.
It is up to 1:10, with the Gilbert group at 1:45.
125km to go
The 14km climb will kick-in and begin to twist up the side of Monte Bondone.
The peloton is chasing at speed, with Portugal setting the pace.
The gap is down to 40 seconds.
Switzerland are also helping with the chase.
The next 5.4km are climbing on the slopes of Monte Bondone.
Gino Mader is one of the first riders to be distances as the climb begins to hurt.
However Tadej Pogacar is up front and well placed with the Italian riders and on the wheels of Portugal.
The break is also falling apart, with Landa dropped.
Will that change Spain's tactics?
Peter Sagan is also at the back with 3.5km to climb.
The speed has been high as the peloton chased the attack. The gap is only 25 seconds now.
The French are continuing to attack.
Romain Bardet attacks. Remco Evenepoel goes after him!
Gianni Moscon marks him for Italy.
Now Warren Barguil goes on the attack as the Monte Bondone climb begins.
The descent is fast and twisting.
It's been fascinating to see the attacks and tactics played out so far.
The break leads by just 15 on the fast descent.
Evenepoel leads the line.
110km to go
It has been a fast and aggressive opening 70km, with the valley roads and climbs sparking some interesting attacks.
The final 105Km will be on the eight laps of the Trento circuit.
Riders who were dropped on the climb are using the descent to get back on. They include Ganna of Italy.
Sam Bennett is off the back but is racing today. However he distanced himself from Lefevere’s wrath by refusing to comment on the Deceuninck-QuickStep manager's criticism.
“I just want to focus on my race today and try to forget about that and focus on the race,” he said.
Click below for the full story.
As the rider enter Trento, there are 20 riders up front in the Pinot break after others crossed on the fast descent.
They lead the peloton by just 15 seconds.
Italy has 4 riders in the front, including Colbrelli.
Evenepoel is there too. Will they ride to stay away?
100km to go
Italy seem to believe in the attack, with Diego Ulissi riding on the front.
Pogacar is in the chase peloton at 15 seconds but the race is likely to come back together.
100km to go
The groups join but there are only 50 or so riders left as the Povo climb hurts for the first time.
They face another 7 climbs on the circuit.
Ganna takes a musette and bidons for Italy as other riders eat and drink on the descent.
Up front Belgium and Portugal continue to keep the pace high. Both want a hard race to crack the sprinters late on.
We have a new attack, sparked by Portugal's Nelson Oliveira.
A group including lots of sprinters is timed at 2:00. It will be difficult for them to come back.
Alexander Kristoff is close to the back of the peloton but Ganna has taken up the chase of the attack for Italy.
90km to go
The break reaches the finish area but their lead is down to 5 seconds.
The Povo climb starts very soon after the finish area. With the circuit 132.km long and the climb 3.7km, it comes around very quickly.
There are six riders up front after a mechanical problem for Rapp.
They are: Oliveira, Dewulf, Barguil, Badilatti and Adria.
Ulissi sense the danger of the moves and jumps across.
Behind Ganna is dropped after his chase on the front. He could have been useful later in the race for Italy but someone needed to close the attack down.
However as riders feed on the Povo climb, the race returns together.
Gruppo compatto, at least for a moment.
The riders are on the descent.
Dewulf, Campanearts, Ulissi and Oliviera are off the front in another interesting attack.
80km to go
Here comes Pogacar!
The Tour winner decides attack is the best form of defence and surges after the Ulissi move.
Moscon marks him for Italy.
As Pogacar is pulled back, Mohoric plays another card for Slovenia.
Mohoric leads the race through the finish area in the centre of Trento.
75km to go
There are just 40 riders left in the front group after 100km of racing.
The likes of Peter Sagan, Dylan Teuns and others have been distances.
Victor Campanaerts is on the front for Evenepoel but Belgium only has two other riders in the group.
Sivakov is riding in the group and has ridden a protected race so far.
Romain Bardet attacks alone on the Povo climb.
The Frenchman's surge has lined out the peloton.
Bardet is the first over the top but eases up after being left out front alone.
Mohoric tries his hand but is marked closely.
70km to go
Now Trentin tries his hand. Race on!
Campanaerts is with Trentin as others try to join them.
Pogacar is there too, so is Hoelgaard of Norway.
Mark Padun is there for the Ukraine.
There are five riders up front, as Italy tries to slow the chase.
65km to go
The five have opened a 25 second lead, forcing France to lead the chase.
This race is producing lots of tactical racing that is fascinating to follow.
Anything could happen in the final five laps of the Povo circuit.
The message for France is simple: On roule! ride!
Message reçu. ✅ pic.twitter.com/DO0E1IlD4iSeptember 12, 2021
Up front the five are taking turns on the front.
The Povo climb begins and Campanaerts calls for a bidon.
Behind France has five riders on the front leading the chase.
Pinot is on the front, doing a big, fast turn. He is trying to chase the break but also hurt the riders in the peloton.
Pinot was in the break earlier and is soon done on the front.
However his surge has split the peloton on the climb.
Benoît Cosnefroy leads but Evenepoel is there too.
Colbrelli is also there as they close in on the Pogacar group.
Over the top riders grab bidons and bars. Two groups are set to come together on the descent.
We have seven riders in the front group, with others chasing to get across.
Ben Hermans crosses the gap with Marc Hirschi.
Sivakov is just behind.
55km to go
The riders are back into the centre of Trento, with four laps left to race.
Most of the riders in the attack are working to extend their lead.
Bardet and Padun are 15 seconds back but struggling to get cross.
Mollema is trying to chase too, with DeWulf of Belgium.
The break of 10 lead by 30 seconds. This could be the selection.
These are the 10.
Belgium is riding for Evenepoel, with Hermans and Campanaerts moving to the front.
Joao Almedia is with Padun and Bardet but they're losing time.
Italy has Colbrelli and Trenti in the front 10.
They're back on the Povo climb.
Campanaerts has been dropped from the front group.
45km to go
The attackers stay together over the top of the cimb and feed as they descend.
This will be a thrilling final three laps.
We have 9 riders up front, with 5 chasers.
The nine are:
Sonny Colbrelli and Matteo Trentin (Italy), Remco Evenepoel and Ben Hermans (Belgium), Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia), Pavel Sivakov (Russia), Marc Hirschi (Switzerland), Markus Hoelgaard (Norway), Benoît Cosnefroy (France).
The chasers are at 40 seconds.
40km to go
On the flat roads of Trento, riders grab a late bidon.
There are three laps to go as the races passes through the old central streets of Trento.
The 9 leaders start the climb with a lead of 50 seconds.
Ben Hermans is giving his all to make sure the move stays away.
The big question is when will Remco attack?
35km to go
The gap is up to 1:10. It's going to be difficult for the chasers to cross the gap and join the up front.
There are only 30 riders left in the race and only 15 win the action upfront.
9 in the attack and 6 chasers.
There are huge crowds on the Povo climb. Only a few are wearing mask, despite being packed tight.
Over the top and Trentin takes over at the front, he seems to be riding for Colbrelli.
The Italian go through and off to try to inspire the rest of the break to share the work.
Tadej Pogacar did not seem on great form after his Tour win and break but he is up there in the attack.
It's heating up at #EuroRoad21!@PavelSivakov is up there in a talent-stacked lead group of nine riders. They have a handy 90 seconds over the chasers with 33km to go. pic.twitter.com/lbkMRyBinQSeptember 12, 2021
The 9 lead by 1:40 as they return to Trento for the start of the final 2 laps.
We will surely see attacks on the penultimate climb up to Povo.
Anyone willing to bet against Evenepoel going on the attack?
The riders pass through the centre on the smooth cobbles. The final sprint is on the same surface and so riders usually sprint sitting down for better grip.
The Povo climb begins again and Ben Hermans returns to the front. He's doing a huge ride for Evenepoel, even if Belgium only have one card to play: an attack by the young Belgian.
Hermans is running out of legs. Who will attack first on the steep part of the climb?
Pogacar takes up a position near the front.
Sivakov kicks it off!
Cosnefroy and Colbrelli are on him. They have a gap.
Cosnefroy seems tired and can't do a turn. Evenepoel pushes on.
Hirschi and Pogacar are chasing the three.
Sivakov is further back, as is Trentin.
20km to go
We have three riders chasing three others.
This is the pursuit match:
Sonny Colbrelli (Italy), Remco Evenepoel (Belgium), Benoît Cosnefroy (France) versus
Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia), Pavel Sivakov (Russia), Marc Hirschi (Switzerland).
The gap is 15 seconds.
Behind Markus Hoelgaard (Norway), Matteo Trentin (Italy) Ben Hermans (Belgium) have joined Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia), Pavel Sivakov (Russia), Marc Hirschi (Switzerland).
That could help them or also hinder them.
15km to go
The riders descend to Trento, with Colbrelli doing a turn.
Sonny Colbrelli (Italy), Remco Evenepoel (Belgium), Benoît Cosnefroy (France) lead by 22 seconds.
15km to go
The trio's lead is up to 30 seconds.
They will surely fight for the medals now.
The big question is: Can Evenepoel get away alone on the final climb of Povo?
The bell rings out as Evenepoel, Cosnefroy and Colbrelli start the last lap.
The chasers are at 30 seconds.
12km to go
Evenepoel leads Cosnefroy and Colbrelli out of Trento and onto the climb.
It is 3.7km long, with the final 800m at 8%.
Colbrelli is tucked tight on Evenepoel's wheel.
Cosnefroy is done. He is dropped.
Now it's a two-rider battle between Evenepoel and Colbrelli.
Colbrelli is suffering as Evenepoel ups the pace and turns the screw.
Cosnefroy is struggling and so the chasers can catch him and fight for a bronze medal.
Evenepoel stomps on the pedals. But Colbrelli hangs on.
This is the hardest part of the Povo climb.
It's Evenepoel -v- Colbrelli. It's a title fight. The attacker versus the sprinter.
Evenepoel is trying to crack Colbrelli.
He dances on the pedals and tries to open a gap.
Colbrelli is on his wheel as the climb ends.
Colbrelli is surely the fastest sprinter but Evenepoel could launch further attacks.
On the descent Colbrelli refuses to do a turn on the front.
Evenepoel seems to be a little nervous about that.
6km to go
Where will Evenepoel try a last attack?
Colbrelli takes a late drink. He needs to focus for the final sprint.
Evenepoel is on the front and surely trying how to beat Colbrelli in the twisting city-centre finish.
Evenepoel and Colbrelli lead by 1:40.
It's there race now.
3km to go
Colbrelli does a turn but he needs to watch out for a late Evenepoel attack.
Evenepoel and Colbrelli are side by side.
Evenepoel seems to have given up hope.
2km to go
Colbrelli looks strong.
Here we go!
We could see a sprint for the final corner.
Evenepoel is on the front.
Colbrelli checks behind and goes on the drops.
Evenepoel leads it out onto the cobbles.
Colbrelli leads out of the last corner and Evenepoel can't respond.
Evenepoel tried to match him but did not have the same power.
Sonny Colbrelli of Italy is the 2021 European Road Race Champion!
Cosnefroy stays away to take bronze.
Matteo Trentin wis the sprint for 4th, waving at his local crowd to celebrate Italy's win.
It's Italy's fourth consecutive European title after Trentin, Viviani and Nizzolo.
Colbrelli celebrates with his family.
Colbrelli waved his arms in celebration as he won.
This is the top ten:
1 Sonny Colbrelli (Italy) 4:19:25
2 Remco Evenepoel (Belgium)
3 Benoit Cosnefroy (France) 0:01:30
4 Matteo Trentin (Italy) 0:01:43
5 Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia)
6 Marc Hirschi (Switzerland)
7 Markus Hoelgaard (Norway)
8 Ben Hermans (Belgium) 0:01:45
9 Pavel Sivakov (Russian Federation) 0:01:49
Here's Sonny winning the European title.
Colbrelli is the Italian national champion but will now wear the European champion's jersey instead of the tricolore.
This was the Evenepoel-Colbrelli attack.
Behind the podium, Colbrelli pulls on the special European champion's jersey.
Colbrelli was emotional after his win.
“It’s amazing, it’s fantastic. I didn’t feel good at the start of the race. Social media doesn’t create pressure for me but in the finale I had a super team and a super (Matteo) Trentin," he said.
"I followed Remco when he attacked but I suffered to follow him. I’m very happy to win. It’s worth double because it’s a European title won in Italy."
The Italian national anthem rings out across a packed Trento main square.
It was a hard race," Colbrelli said emotionally.
"We never went slow, even on the Bondone. But we did a great job as a team. Then there were only 10 riders and there was Trentin there too. I gave it everything I had to stay with Evenepoel."
We will have a full photo gallery and race report very soon. It will be packed with details like this of an ever-changing race and a thrilling finale.
Remco Evenepoel slumped to the ground after finishing second.
The young Belgian considered the silver medal as a defeat.
Zilver en ontgoocheling, maar wat een knappe koers van @EvenepoelRemco #belga #belgapicture #trento pic.twitter.com/xszo9ZZFMGSeptember 12, 2021
Tadej Pogacar was in the thick of the action but finished fifth, one place behind Trentin, who brought home the chasers.
For many riders a silver medal would be considered a success. Not for a rider as ambitious as Evenepoel. He seemed a little frustrated that Colbrelli rode only briefly on the front on the descent to the finish but sportingly said Colbrelli was the deserved winner.
"I can't blame Colbrelli. He was very strong. We were perhaps the strongest in the race. He’s the deserved winner, especially if you’ve seen how it rode in recent weeks," Evenepole said after the podium ceremony.
“It’s very disappointing. I don't know if I will get that close again in the coming years on such a difficult course but the most important thing is that I am back. That is very nice. I would have loved to have taken that jersey but oh well, you can't have everything in life.”
This is the podium of the European Championships.
Here's the moment Colbrelli realises he has won.
And this is the moment Remco realises he has lost.
"It was a very difficult race. The Italians really raced on adrenaline because the crowds were so big,” Evenepoel explained.
“I rode up the last climb very fast but Colbrelli only had one thing to do: survive. I saw that he was having a hard time but he didn't crack. He has a better sprint so he had to bet on that. That's part of the race. It's a shame I don't have a good sprint, but it’ll come."
Evenepoel will now return to Italy for the World Championships on home roads. He will ride the time trial alongside Wout van Aert next Sunday and promised to ride for his fellow Belgian the week after in the road race.
“I had my chance today and I just didn't take it. We will do our best to get it together on Sunday and the week after that I will empty myself for Van Aert," Evenepoel said.
Colbrelli savoured his moment on the podium
Evenepoel was not so happy.
Evenepoel is clearly ambitious and harsh on himself. He heads home from Trento with silver in the road race and bronze in the time trial.
To read our full story on Remco Evenepoel's post-race comments, click below.
France's Benoît Cosnefroy completed the podium with Colbrelli and Evenepoel but was satisfied with the bronze medal.
"I was at my limit," he said after being distanced on the last climb with half a lap to go.
“We came to win the title with someone from the French team. We did everything we could to succeed, but I couldn't do any more against Colbrelli and Evenepoel.
"I am happy with this medal; I do not regret a thing. On the last lap, I was giving everything I could. Maybe things would have been different on one steeper climb, but there with two climbs I couldn't keep up.
"I thought I was going well physically, we did the race we had to do,and I thank my teammates. I was at my limit today, I couldn't give more."
To read our full race report and to study our growing photo gallery and the full results, click below.
Thanks for joining us for full live coverage from the European Championships.
We'll have full daily live coverage from the World Championships that start next Sunday with the elite men's time trial.
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