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Top sprinters to face off in European road race championships - Preview

The last bunch sprint at the UEC Road Championships was won by Giacomo Nizzolo in 2020
The last bunch sprint at the UEC Road Championships was won by Giacomo Nizzolo in 2020 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The leading European cycling nations will clash in Munich, Germany between August 11-21 at the 'Super European Championships', with many of the biggest names in men's sprinting clashing in Sunday's road race.

Fabio Jakobsen, Alexander Kristoff, Mads Pedersen, Arnaud Dêmare, Sam Bennett, Pascal Ackermann and Giacomo Nizzolo will all swap their professional team colours and allegiances to ride for national pride.

Surprisingly the Belgian Lotto Soudal riders opted not to be selected for the European Championships so they can focus on the WorldTour relegation battle but Sunday's race offers valuable points to riders and so their professional teams. Last year Sonny Colbrelli scored 250 precious points for winning the men's title in Trento.

The 2022 'Super European Championships' includes nine different sports, with road, track, mountain bike and BMX racing alongside athletics, climbing, rowing, table tennis, gymnastics, volleyball and triathlon.

Munich hosted the Olympic Games 50 years ago and most of the events will take place in the same Olympiapark, making the European championships bigger and more visible than individual championships.

Tom Pidcock, Filippo Colombo, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, Jolanda Neff and Sina Frei will target the mountain bike titles, while Laura Kenny, Lotte Kopecky, Elia Viviani, Jeffrey Hoogland, Roy Van Den Berg and Harrie Lavreysen will race on the track. Germany's Lisa Brennauer will end her long road and track career at the event.

The road races are arguably the most prestigious titles, with the white and blue striped European champion's jersey worn in the peloton for the subsequent 12 months just like the world champion's rainbow jersey.

Last year Colbrelli beat Remco Evenepoel to take the jersey in Trento, while Ellen van Dijk won the women's road race title and was second in the time trial to Marlen Reusser. Both will be back this year on the 24km Fürstenfeldbruck course, while Elisa Balsamo, Demi Vollering, Lorena Wiebes and Cecile Ludwig are set to contest the road race.

Cyclingnews will have a preview of the women's road race next week.

Stefan Küng beat Filippo Ganna by eight seconds to win the 2021 time trial title and is again the favourite in the absence of the Italian for this year's 48km time trial. His biggest rival is perhaps his compatriot Stefan Bissegger.

Men's road race offers big-name sprinter showdown

Sunday's men's road race is the first major event of the 'Super European Championships', with many of the major European nations treating it as an important test for the world championships in Australia.

The 207.9km Munich course is perhaps flatter and more suited to the pure sprinters than the course in Wollongong but it will be a chance for professional riders to race in their national colours and without race radio.

Italy arguably take the European road race championships the most seriously and have been rewarded with four consecutive victories in recent years thanks to Matteo Trentin, Viviani, Nizzolo and Colbrelli.

New Italian national coach and former sprinter Daniele Bennati has selected Trentin, Nizzolo, Ganna, Alberto Dainese, Jonathan Milan, Luca Mozzato Jacopo Guarnieri and Filippo Baroncini, hoping to cover any possible strategic outcome to the race and particularly a sprint finish.

Other nations have also selected their best sprinters. The Belgian team is built around Tim Merlier and the on-form Dries Van Gestel, while France has Arnaud Démare, Hugo Hofstetter and Bryan Coquard. Fabio Jakobsen leads for the Netherlands, Mads Pedersen can count on lead-out man Michael Mørkøv in the Denmark team, while Alexander Kristoff leads Norway and Sam Bennett is Ireland's best chance of victory. 

The home nation Germany is especially strong, with Pascal Ackermann, Nils Politt, Phil Bauhaus and John Degenkolb amongst their eight-rider squad.

"The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and even Norway will all be riding for a sprint finish," warned Bennati, when he named his team to La Gazzetta dello Sport this week.

"We'll be out to honour Sonny Colbrelli's win from last year and build the team for the future, especially the 2024 Olympic road race in Paris. With no race radios, the experience of riders like Trentin and Guarnieri will be vital for us, while Nizzolo knows how to perform in circuit races because he's both Italian and European champion.

"We've also got Ganna, Milan and Dainese, who is on form after riding the Tour de France. Ganna could make a long-range attack or play a vital role in the sprint lead out by looking after our guys in the final kilometres.

"We're going to let the other nations control the race because they've arguably got a better chance in the sprint. We'll have to be ready for any final scenario and then take on the race in the finale."

Cyclingnews will have a full report, photos, results, news and reactions from the European Championships.

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