European road peloton rolls back into action as Alberto Contador’s team wins in Spain

Eolo-Kometa rider Lonardi kickstarts the season with victory at Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana while Santos Festival of Cycling boots into gear Down Under.

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The European men’s road season roared back into life at the Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana on Sunday.

Giovanni Lonardi (Eolo Kometa) outsprinted Amaury Capiot (Arkéa Samsic) and Chris Lawless (TotalEnergies) to score the first elite road win on European soil ahead of a month packed with small stage-races and one-dayers through France and Spain.

Sunday’s Clàssica in southern Spain didn’t see any WorldTour teams at the startline of a race cluttered with conti squads.

Instead, the 1.2 event was headlined by TotalEnergies, Arkéa Samsic, home teams Caja-Rural, Burgos-BH and Euskaltel Euskadi, and the Alberto Contador-bossed crew of Lonardi.

As one of the bigger teams in the bunch, Burgos-BH controlled for much of the race, reeling in the break of three to set up the final sprint in València.

A huge crash inside the final kilometer interrupted the final gallop, but Eolo-Kometa’s Lonardi came through unscathed to win the reduced sprint and open the books for Euro racing in 2022.

The men’s WorldTour’s biggest names click into gear in just a few days as 10 top-tier teams warm their jets at the five-race Challenge Mallorca series, starting Wednesday.

Also read: What you need to know about the Euro road racing restart

From there, it’s full gas toward full top-level racing, the classics, and so much more.

Meanwhile Down Under …. Santos Festival of Cycling gets rolling

Meanwhile on the other side of the globe, the domestic Santos Festival of Cycling kick-started this weekend with a surprise win for Emily Watts (Knights of Suburbia) in the Williamstown criterium.

BikeExchange-Jayco rider Ruby Roseman-Gannon took the overall lead of the Aussie event thanks to her haul of intermediate sprints.

You can read the full report from our friends CyclingTips here.

The Festival of Cycling’s elite women’s race is being contested over three stages, from Sunday to Tuesday, while the men’s three-day race will be held from Thursday to Sunday next week.

The all-Australian action is being held in lieu of the COVID-blighted “summer of cycling” that typically sees the international peloton in action at the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.

With the cancelation of the Tour Down Under due to the pandemic for a second year in a row, the men’s WorldTour opens up at the UAE Tour late February.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.