Today the Men Elite Road Race of the European Championships took place in Herning, Denmark. Six Lotto Soudal riders were representing their national colors on a flat 241km course. Three riders, Elfarsson, Shumov en Spengler, broke away right after the start and they quickly built a twelve minute gap to the peloton. The escapees stayed at the front for almost 140 kilometers but they were caught as the Belgian and Danish teams increased the tempo of the main bunch. The objective was to drop Italian leader Elia Viviani, who had just suffered a mechanical issue. He however managed to get back to the peloton with the help of his entire team. After everything got back together, small groups, with among others Lars Bak and Nikolas Maes, repeatedly tried to attack off the front, but these attempts remained unsuccessful. Belgian Jens Keukeleire attacked on several occasions and he finally managed to open a dangerous gap with Edvald Boasson Hagen and Nikolaï Trusov on his wheel. However, the trio could not hold back the chasing peloton and the race was all set for a bunch sprint. Moreno Hofland finished in a solid third place, behind Alexander Kristoff (first) and Elia Viviani (second). The Lotto Soudal rider was visibly happy with his bronze medal after the race:
Moreno Hofland: « Of course I am happy with my result, even though it would have been even better to become European Champion. But with riders like Alexander Kristoff and Elia Viviani ahead of me, I can be satisfied with the bronze medal. We decided this morning with the team that I would spare my energy for a potential sprint if there were attacks in the final. My teammates did a fantastic job to get me in a good position in the last kilometers. The sprint itself was hectic and the head wind forced me to stay focussed. I decided to follow Elia Viviani’s wheel, as I knew that his lead-out was super strong. I’m very happy to be back on the podium, it has been a long time. I think it shows what I’m capable of and it certainly gives me confidence for the upcoming races. »
The Belgian National Team tried to make the race as hard as possible, but they unfortunately come home empty-handed. The first Belgian to cross the line is Edward Theuns in sixth place.
Nikolas Maes: « Our goal was to make the race as hard as we could, but it wasn’t easy with such a flat course. We tried everything we could, from opening echelons to having people in the break, but this course just didn’t allow us to make it as difficult as we hoped for. Of course it’s a shame that Jens Debusschere suffered a puncture so close to the finish, but the plan for the final was to jump on other wheels anyway, so it didn’t change much for the organization of our team and we ultimately got a top-ten with Edward Theuns in sixth place. At the end of the day, we can be satisfied with the way we rode today, but we are of course disappointed with the result. »