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VN news ticker: Kévin Reza to retire at end of season, Pieters, Muzic, García new national road champions

Here's the news making headlines for Saturday, June 19.

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Amy Pieters, Évita Muzic, Mavi García score national road titles

Amy Pieters, Évita Muzic and Mavi García will all be pulling on the jersey of national champion for the next 12 months.

Pieters went solo to win the Dutch title Saturday, beating second-place Nancy van der Burg by nearly two and a half minutes. Marianne Vos finished eighth in the star-studded race, while Annemiek van Vleuten placed 11th.

World champion Anna van der Breggen finish way back in the pack after working for her SD Worx teammate Pieters.

Muzic won the French race this weekend, beating defending champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot from a five-rider sprint. Multi-discipline ace Pauline Ferrand-Prévot took 12th.

García defended her 2020 title and took a Spanish double with her win in La Nucia. The 37-year-old also won the TT championships Friday.

Kévin Reza to retire at end of season

Kévin Reza will hang up his wheels at the end of the season.

After 11 years in the pro peloton, Reza has decided that the pressure and intensity of racing has become too much.

“The tension that reigns in the peloton, the risks that some riders take and the efforts to be made with each restart, lifting myself out of the saddle again and again … I feel like I can’t anymore,” Reza said in a statement from Team B&B Hotels.

“I always told myself that the day I struggled to fulfill my mission, I would ask myself the right questions. At the Tour of Belgium, while I was in the pre-selection for the Tour, I was able to verify that my physical condition was good but the head no longer follows. My body is no longer able to withstand such pressure.”

Reza, 33, will not race the Tour de France as originally planned, but will return to competition before retiring at the close of the season.

Reza has seen many highs and lows through his pro career, including two third-place stage finishes at the Vuelta a España and a near-miss at the French nationals. Along with being an active voice against racism in cycling, Reza was the victim of a serious crash at the 2016 Vuelta which left him with a broken skull.

Reza cited the incident and the perils of racing as another reason prompting his decision to retire.

“It was a hell of a challenge getting back on the bike after this accident,” he said. “I could not see myself stopping my career on this event. I wanted to prove to myself that I could come back to the top level.

“This time, I feel it’s time and I have no problem saying it. For a lot of riders, retirement is a taboo subject but it’s far from being a trauma for me. ”

Elisa Longo Borghini, Matteo Sobrero score TT titles as Filippo Ganna falters

Elisa Longo Borghini, Matteo Sobrero (both Italy), Mavi García, Ion Izagirre (both Spain) and Christine Majerus (Luxemburg) scored national TT victories Friday.

Longo Borghini defended her 2020 title, beating second-place Soraya Paladin by a solid 1:10. She will be hoping to defend her road title Sunday before heading to the Giro Rosa early July.

“It was a great day,” Longo Borghini said.

“Today’s race was also a test to check my condition after the altitude training camp at Sestriere. I got the answers I wanted, I know I’m feeling good and it’s a great starting point for the road race on Sunday. It will be a completely different race of course, where not only individual strength will count but also the team.”

Sobrero was a surprise winner in the men’s race. The 24-year-old beat Edoardo Affini, Mattia Cattaneo and world champ Filippo Ganna, who only managed fourth. The result backs up the promise Sobrero showed in the final TT of this year’s Giro d’Italia, where he placed fourth.

“I have huge emotions right now as this is a very big victory for me,” he said.

“To win the maglia tricolore is a dream for all Italian riders and now I achieved this goal! That’s something special for me and I am super happy! Well, I came here really motivated after my performance on the last day of the Giro and after the recent Tour of Slovenia and I wanted to show my best in this race. 

“It’s an incredible day and an incredible win for me.”

Sobrero’s Astana-Premier Tech team also saw Ion Izagirre race into the Spanish champion’s jersey, beating David de la Cruz and Carlos Rodriguez.