The Belgian clocked in at just 0.63 faster than the Spaniard to win in Glasgow
Victor Campenaerts narrowly took victory over Jonathan Castroviejo at the European Championships time trial to defend his title.
The Belgian crossed the line just 0.63 seconds ahead of the Spaniard after both had put in well paced rides in the rainy conditions on the 45km course in Glasgow.
Both men were desperate to seal another stint in the European jersey for another season, after Castroviejo had won in 2016 and Campenaerts in 2017.
Despite the high calibre of the field, the next best placed rider in third Maximillian Schachmann (Germany) was some way off their times with 54-06.
He managed to beat his Quick-Step Floors team-mate Yves Lampaert (Belgium) into the final medal position by three seconds, while Britain’s best placed rider was Alex Dowsett in fifth at 54-13.
How it happened
Riders set off in the rainy conditions in Glasgow at 13:00 local time, with Lithuania’s Gediminas Bagdonas off the ramp first.
He was able to hold off his minute man to get to the finish first on the 45km course, setting the first benchmark of 57-38.
There was no way that was set to stand, and by 13.33, all riders were out on the course with some setting some good looking times through the early checkpoints.
Lampaert went fastest through the first check at 10.6km with a time of 13-22. Dowsett passed through in second place at six seconds back, with Castroviejo at 10 seconds and Campenaerts 19 seconds down.
Former Belgian champion Lampaert continued his fast ride, clocking the best time through the second point at 30.4km.
Fortunes had begun to change for some of the riders though, with Castroviejo increasing his tempo to go through fastest by seven seconds, with Dowsett now 18 seconds down. Campenaerts had also moved up to third fastest by the final intermediate check, with Schachmann also looking strong at 13 seconds.
As faster times began to be set at the finish, Lampaert came through to set the first potential medalling time of 54-09.
Stefan Küng (Switzerland), who won the final time trial at the Tour de Suisse in June, couldn’t quite match Lampaert as he put in the second best time of 54-22
Then Schachmann, who had posted sixth, 13 seconds off Lampaert at the second intermediate, set the best time by three seconds over the leader.
Alex Dowsett had begun to fade over the latter part of the course, but was still able to come in at 54-13, just outside a medal position.
It quickly became clear that the fight for gold was between just two men on the road however, with Castroviejo and Campenaerts pacing their rides superbly towards the finish.
Castroviejo came in with what looked to be a certain winning time of 53-39, but faced an agonising wait to see if the defending champion could steal the win from him.
Campanaerts had clearly been told by his support car that it was a close race, and began taking big risks on the wet corners, sprinting hard out of every one to gain as much time as possible.
As he came up the finishing straight it looked like he would do it, but came down to an agonisingly close margin with his time of 53-38, in the the end just 0.63 seconds ahead of Castroviejo.
Elsewhere, Ireland’s Ryan Mullen was able to put in a good performance to take sixth with a time of 54-19, while Britain’s other rider Harry Tanfield had to settle for 16th at 55-53.
European Championships 2018, men’s individual time trial: Glasgow (45km)
1 Victor Campenaerts (Belgium) 53-38.78
2 Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain) 53-39.41
3 Maximilian Schachmann (Germany) 54-06.16
4 Yves Lampaert (Belgium) 54-09.77
5 Alex Dowsett (Great Britain) 54-13.84
6 Ryan Mullen (Ireland) 54-19.21
7 Stefan Küng (Switzerland) 54-23.23
8 Jos Van Emden (Netherlands) 54-33.98
9 Rasmus Christian Quaade (Denmark) 54-34.28
10 Dylan Van Baarle (Netherlands) 54-42.27