European Champs: Italy dominate team pursuit qualifying as British men crash

Italy got their Track European Championships off to an excellent start, setting the fastest and second fastest times in the women’s and men’s team pursuit qualifying respectively.

The Italian women, Elisa Balsamo, Tatiana Guderzo, Letizia Paternoster and Silvia Valsecchi, out gunned the British squad of Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, Eleanor Dickinson and Emily Kay by almost a second, despite a late surge from the British. Germany also rode a fast finish, but it was not enough to make up for their slow start and they finished third, with Poland, who was some five seconds slower than Italy, qualifying fourth.

Italy will face-off against Poland next, with the winner of that bout heading into the gold medal match-up against either Great Britain or Germany. Given their early performances, an Italy, Great Britain duel for Gold looks highly likely. The times of the losers and the other four teams will be ranked with the top two competing for the Bronze medal.

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In the men’s team pursuit, France set the benchmark with a time of 3:58.060, which was less than a second quicker than Italy. Russia faded towards the end of their effort, but held on the take third place with Germany not too far behind in fourth place.

The British men looked like they were on course to set a time good enough to keep their medal hopes alive until Andy Tennant crashed on the last lap, leaving the team with just two riders after already dropping Kian Emadi. The team needed at least three riders to finish to set a time. Tennant later said that it was dizziness that had caused him to crash.

“I remember hearing the bell then I don’t remember anything after that,” Tennant told the British Cycling website. “I have been in the paramedic room for the last hour-and-a-half lying down. I’m alright now.”

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Tour of Guangxi: Gaviria wins stage 1

While Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) was delayed by visa issues on the way to China, the Colombian sprinter was quickly at full flight on Thursday, sprinting to victory on the opening stage of the Tour of Guangxi.

The 23-year-old will enter the history books as the both the first stage winner and race leader of the new WorldTour event and start stage 2 wearing the leader’s red jersey.

Gaviria was the dominant sprinter at the Giro d’Italia in May and he showed a clean pair of heels in dispatching LottoNL-Jumbo’s Dylan Groenewegen and Pascal Ackerman of Bora for win number 11 of his long 2017 season.

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On the flat and fast finish after 107km on a city circuit, Gaviria hit out on the left hand of the road and had time to straight and raise his arms to celebrate the 53rd win for Quick-Step-Floors in 2017. He leads the race by one second over Silvan Dillier (BMC), who took bonus seconds while in the break of the day. Friday’s second stage is from Qinzhou to Nanning and is also expected to be dominated by the sprinters.

The win looked easy only on television but it was hard race: a short stage, fast and at the end one of the craziest sprints. It’s one of the fastest sprints I’ve ever done. I’m delighted to take a win in the last race of the year, which is the Tour of Guangxi,” Gaviria said.

How it unfolded

1101 days on from the final stage of the Tour of Beijing in 2014, WorldTour racing returned to China for stage 1 of the Tour of Guangxi.

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Jakub Mareczko wins Tour of Taihu Lake overall

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Ortenblad doubles up at Gran Prix of Gloucester

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US Open of Cyclo-cross: McFadden claims victory on Day 2

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Gran Prix of Gloucester: Noble claims Day 2

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US Open of Cyclo-cross: Millburn wins Day 2

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Mareczko wins Tour of Taihu Lake stage 6

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Audrey Cordon-Ragot wins Chrono des Nations

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Martin Toft Madsen storms to Chrono des Nations victory

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Tour of Taihu Lake: Aberasturi wins stage 5

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Tour of Taihu Lake: Mareczko sprints to third straight victory on stage 4

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US Open of Cyclo-cross: Huck takes Day 1

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Van Der Poel conquers the Zonhoven sandpit

Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) won the second round of the Superprestige, conquering the famous sandpit at Zonhoven and leaving his rivals struggling. Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Charles) finished 21 second back, with third place going to Lars van der Haar (Telenet-Fidea) at 35 seconds.

It is van der Poel’s second victory at the race in two years, and his second win in two days after Saturday’s Poldercross. The Dutchman currently seems unbeatable, leaving his many Belgian rivals frustrated and searching for answers.

An uncharacteristically slow start for van der Poel saw him back in sixth place on the opening lap as Laurens Sweeck (Era-Circus) pushed the pace from the off and lead down the first, hectic drop-off into the sandpit. Van Aert sensed the early opportunity and soon took Sweeck and Quinten Hermans (Telenet-Fidea) with him to open up a ten second gap on van der Poel at the end of the first lap.

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The lead wouldn’t last though, and any thought that van der Poel might struggle was swiftly dismissed as the Dutchman made the catch on lap three. Nevertheless, it looked as though the huge crowds that had turned out in the warm weather would be treated to a big battle for supremacy.

Van der Poel had other ideas, attacking the uphill-downhill sandpit section on lap four. The gap was immediate and decisive; by the end of the lap he was 20 seconds up on Van Aert and on his way to victory.

It wasn’t a flawless race for the Dutch champion as a crash on a tight corner midway through the hour slowed his progress for a handful of seconds. He almost crashed on a descent into the sandpit too, using his bike skills to stay upright and avoid any embarrassment infront of the huge crowd.

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Kaptheijns dominates the Zonhoven pit

Maud Kaptheijns (Crelan-Charles) won the second round of the Superprestige Ladies Trophy in Zonhoven, leading from flag to flag once again.

Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) finished second at a distant 1:07, while Nikki Brammeier (Boels-Dolmans) was third at 1:14.

“I like to race on the sand, though it was heavy - certainly in this hot weather,” Kaptheijns said after the race. “This is my most beautiful victory. Gieten was beautiful, but I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than winning in Zonhoven’s pit.”

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Ahead of the race a fight between Kaptheijns and the in-form Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek-Panache) had been anticipated. The US champion had gotten the better of Kaptheijns at the DVV Trofee in Ronse a week ago, also beating her at Saturday’s Poldercross. But Zonhoven was - much like the opening round in Gieten - all about one woman after Compton suffered with asthma and allergies in the warm conditions and Belgian pine trees.

Kaptheijns set the tone from the start, leading the way in the unseasonable 23°c heat and establishing a small gap on the opening lap of ‘the sandpit’.

World Champion Cant endured a nightmare start, falling over 30 seconds back, while a chase group of four - Compton, Brammeier, Worst (Era-Circus) and Ellen Van Loy (Telenet-Fidea Lions) - separated themselves from the rest of the pack.

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