Elia Viviani 'had to change tactic' to secure European champion's jersey

The Italian squad rode a near flawless race to defend their European title

(Image credit: Getty Images)

After losing his Italian national champion's jersey to Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe), Elia Viviani ensured he won't have to wear his standard team jersey for another year after winning the European men's road race title in Alkmaar, the Netherlands.

The Deceuninck - Quick-Step rider easily beat his team-mate Yves Lampaert after the pair distanced Germany's Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) in the closing kilometres to take the victory.

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Viviani will now take the European champion's jersey to Cofidis, after his transfer for the 2020 season was finalised last week, and finally comes good in the relatively new event after finishing runner-up to Norway's Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) in 2017.

“It’s absolutely amazing, I can’t find the words to tell you what this means for me. I came out of the Tour de France feeling good and was hoping to be in contention for the gold medal, and to finally get it, two years after I finished runner-up, gives me immense joy."

The Italian squad hit the front early as crosswinds battered the peloton, driving the pace around a technical course making life difficult for the other nations. Then, with 25km to go, Viviani distanced the peloton alongside Ackermann and Lampaert, before getting the better of the other two and crossing the finish line first.

“We watched all the other races here in Alkmaar and we knew that we had to change our tactic, because the wind was to play a big part in the outcome, as it did the entire week. I had really strong legs, took many risks today and it all paid off," Viviani said.

"Being there at the front together with Yves, who is my team-mate and a good friend, was really nice and special. I am extremely happy and proud of this win, one of the finest of my entire career, as it didn’t come from a bunch sprint.

"The race split quite early under the impetus of the Italians. Then, as things progressed, only 13 guys remained at the front and I was one of them. When the three of us rode clear with 25km left, we knew that despite the gap being just 30 seconds, it wasn’t going to be easy for the chasers to close it, so we pushed hard, as that was the big chance to hold firm of our advantage."

With Remco Evenepoel and Kasper Asgreen finishing first and second in the men's time trial, this was the first time in the championship's history that two members of the same trade team have occupied the top two steps of the podium in both races, and adds another memorable result for what has been an outstanding 2019 season for Deceuninck - Quick-Step.

After finishing third at this year's Paris-Roubaix, Lampaert was happy to pick up another podium spot at an elite one-day race. The Belgian had attacked Viviani and Ackermann with 3km to go, not wanting to take two of the fastest sprinters in the peloton to the line with him. However, after Viviani counter-attacked leaving Ackermann behind, the Belgian worked with his team-mate to secure the silver medal, knowing if Ackermann had managed to get back on he would have most likely been left with bronze.

"Going into the last kilometres, I was aware that I didn’t stand a chance in the sprint, so I tried to go alone, but Elia was strong and managed to bridge across. I’m happy with my result, as taking second place and the silver medal is the best outcome considering everything," Lampaert said.

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