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Sagan, Rivera and Lampaert: National Championship round-up

Joe Robinson
25 Jun 2018

The first weekend of National Championships produced a few expected results as well as a few surprises

This weekend saw the first round of National Championship races take place across Europe, Africa and North America. The prestigious races in each country dictate which lucky rider will have the honour of donning the national jersey for the next 12 months, one of cycling's most coveted prizes.

With the Tour de France one week later due to the on-going football World Cup, not all nations held their championships this weekend, deciding instead to push them back one week further in the calendar. The most notable of those were the Netherlands, Germany and also here at home in Great Britain.

Nevertheless plenty of nations did hold their championships this weekend and we now know which men and women will be given that special jersey for the next year.

Where better to start than Slovakia. Since 2011, the same name has sat on top of the podium and that is of course Sagan. Although in 2016 and 2017 the title went to Juraj rather than Peter. The younger sibling had finally managed to escape the shadows of his successful brother and experience some glory of his own.

However, 2018 was return to normality as Peter managed to regain the title that he had made his own between 2011 and 2015. Deciding to attack with 90km remaining, the current road race World Champion left everyone, including Juraj behind, to secure a sixth national title.

Sagan's win was not the only title decided that race. Having formerly been one nation, the Czech Republic still teams up with Slovakia to run a joint national road race. While Sagan crossed the line first, Josef Cerny would have been equally happy behind as he managed to secure a national double taking the Czech road race after having won the time trial earlier that week.

Defending champion Zdenek Stybar of Quick-Step Floors could only manage fifth in the defence of his title.

Head north to Poland and a perfectly executed plan by Team Sky teammates Michal Kwiatkowski and Michal Golas saw the former capture his second national road title of his career. He managed to out-kick Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe) who painfully missed out on a national title double having taken the time trial in a hotly contested race from Marcin Bialoblocki and Kwiatkowski.

In the women's race, a solo victory for Malgorzata Jasinska gave the Movistar women's team plenty to cheer after they also secured a 1-2-3 in the Spanish women's road race with Eider Merino taking the title.

Movistar did not have the same luck in the Spanish men's road race as Alejandro Valverde yet again proved he was human. This time it was Bahrain Merida's Gorka Izagirre who managed to slay the veteran finishing solo ahead of an experienced top 10 that had an average age of 32.

Across the pond in America the women's and men's races told two very different stories.

In the women's road race there were little surprises as Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) out-sprinted Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) to end a three year streak of second places. Rivera's win accounts for the 72nd national title of her career, not bad for a 25-year old.

The result in the men's race was less predictable as 21-year old Jonathan Brown raced to his first stars and stripes jersey as the WorldTour racers saw themselves outplayed by the ProContinental and Continental riders.

Brown, younger brother EF-Drapac's Nate Brown, upset those behind to take the title back to Axel Merckx's development team Hagens Berman Axeon. Chris Horner, the 46-year old former Vuelta a Espana winner, came out of retirement in attempt to take this title although was unable to finish.

Bahrain-Merida produced a clean sweep in Slovenia with their riders finishing first, second and third. Descending maestro Matej Mohoric took the title from teammate Domen Novak. Bahrain-Merida couldn't repeat their Spanish and Slovenian success in Lithuania as Ramunas Navarduaskas could only manage second behind Gediminas Bagdonas (AG2R La Mondiale).

Vegard Stake Laengen (UAE-Team Emirates) secured the Norwegian road race while Domingos Goncalves and Lucas Eriksson took the Portuguese and Swedish titles respectively.

Dimension Data will be pleased with their performance at the Eritrean national championships as Merhawi Kudus continued his steady rise to take the title over trade teammate Amanuel Gebreigzabhier.

Finally in Belgium, Quick-Step Floors kept their promise of taking the Belgium national title as Yves Lampaert took one of the most hotly contested national road races managing to overcome teammate Philippe Gilbert and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) for a first Belgian road jersey. 

In the women's race Lotto Soudal ladies dominated with Annelies Dom beating teammate Valerie Demey to the jersey.