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Top pros promise to line up for revamped Euro champs

September's European cycling championships will now be open to elite professionals

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NICE, France (VN) — Elite pros will be allowed to race in the European road cycling championships for the first time, and a few big names have promised to line up in Nice in September.

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), Fabio Aru (Astana), and Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) are among a few top riders who’ve expressed interest in the revamped event, set for September 14-18.

The European championships started in 1995, and were traditionally for junior and U23 riders. A rule change now allows for elite men and women pros, and an individual time trial and road race will be added to this year’s event, set for a climber-friendly course around Nice, France.

The event is organized by the European Cycling Union, and Tour de France organizers ASO will help run logistics. Scheduled just after the Vuelta a España, and before the world championships in Qatar, organizers are hoping the event will gain traction among the elite pros.

Despite some verbal commitments, it will be interesting to see which pros actually line up to start. With the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games set two weeks after the conclusion of the Tour de France, many of the sport’s biggest names might be ready to wind down their season by mid-September. The inclusion of ASO as part of the event, however, will surely mean that teams will pressure some of their riders to race.

The road race course will start in Monaco and include a 12.5km circuit, with a climb over the Col d’Eze, as part of the route, 220 kilometers in total for the men’s race.