The weekend before the start of the Tour de France is one of the busiest race weekends of the year, as most of the European nations host their national championships. Below is a list of the countries hosting their national championships over the next two days and highlights for the most competitive races.
Course: The riders will tackle 14 laps of an eight-kilometer circuit totaling 252km. On each lap the riders will face the Horenberg, a short, steep climb that is paved. Over the course of the race the climb will wear down the riders, so expect a small group to come to the finish.
Favorites: Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick-Step), Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal), Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing), Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo), Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing)
Course: The riders will roll 12km out of Chantonnay to the circuit that will decide the national champion. The circuit is 14.7km and will be completed 16 times for a total race distance of roughly 250km. The course is hilly, but does not contain any major climbs. The group will be whittled down slowly as the long, hilly course tires out the riders’ legs.
Favorites: Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick-Step), Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling), Arnaud Demare (FDJ), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis)
Course: The 208km race will be tackled on a large 26km circuit, which will be completed eight times. The course includes one long climb in the middle, and with 310m (1,017ft) of climbing per lap, it will be a long, hard day in the saddle for the riders. Expect a strong rider that can climb, but also have a fast finishing kick to come out on top.
Favorites: Rick Zabel (BMC Racing), John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka)
Course: The riders will tackle two large loops totaling 90km before entering the finishing circuits. The field will then complete 8.5 laps of the 13km circuit for a total race distance of 200km. There are three main climbs in the rolling big loop, but only one major climb on the finishing circuits — and that is up to the finish, so don’t expect a pure sprinter to come out on top.
Favorites: Peter Kennaugh and Ian Stannard (Sky), Adam and Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge)
Course: The Italian road race championship course is unlike most in that it is virtually a point-to-point 219km race instead of a circuit race like most of the other championships are. The course is brutal as two sharp climbs come at the end, with the race finishing atop a 6km climb. The pure climbers will definitely have their say in this race.
Favorites: Vincenzo Nibali and Michele Scarponi (Astana), Davide Formolo and Moreno Moser (Cannondale-Garmin)
Course: The course consists of two separate 60km loops around Emmen before entering the 13km finishing circuit. The riders will tackle 10 laps of the finishing circuit for a total race distance of 250km. Look for a classics specialist with a good finishing kick to come out on top in a race over this distance.
Favorites: Niki Terpstra (Etixx-Quick-Step), Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale-Garmin), Moreno Hofland (LottoNL-Jumbo), Lars Boom (Astana)
Course: The 39km circuit in Caceres will be tackled five times for a 190km race. The course is hilly, as is expected. The finish is uphill, but not on a big climb, so expect a climber with a fast finishing kick to take the national colors.
Favorites: Alejandro Valverde and Ion Izzagirre (Movistar), Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana)
Other countries hosting national championships this weekend
Saturday, June 27
Sunday, June 28