He crossed the line at the end of his rope, his head bowed. But Benoît Cosnefroy, the AG2R-Citroên rider, gave a nice bronze medal to the French team, the 6th overall during this week of the European Championship in Trento (Italy). Since 2016 that Europe has been open to the pros, this is the third tricolor podium in this event after the silver of Julian Alaphilippe (2016) and Arnaud Démare (2020).
The French had a great team race where we saw Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot sacrifice themselves for Cosnefroy. The 25-year-old Normand arrived at these European Championships in great shape, with two victories in the last two weekends, in the Bretagne Classic (in a two-man sprint with Julian Alaphilippe) and then in the Tour du Jura.
Benoît in 🥉 A very nice podium which rewards a great team race. No regrets to have. Bravo Benoît and the whole team 🇫🇷! // @ BenoitCosnefroy takes the🥉A great podium after a brilliant teamwork. Congrats Benoît and the whole team 🇫🇷. # AG2RCITROËNTEAM pic.twitter.com/RI47kCmKEj
Cosnefroy managed to join the leading group where included Tadej Pogacar, the double winner of the Tour de France, then to accompany with the Italian Sonny Colbrelli, the attack of the Belgian phenomenon, Remco Evenepoel, who was undoubtedly the strongest .
But in the last difficulty, 11 km from the finish, the Frenchman broke down, letting Evenepoel and Colbrelli go. Cosnefroy nevertheless found the resources to save his bronze medal for 14 seconds, resisting the return of Pogacar’s group.
“On a personal level, I would rather have a medal than nothing at all. After that, we really came to seek the title with the team. I gave everything, even on the last lap, to get this medal. I couldn’t do anything against the two (Evenepoel and Colbrelli) in the final. I was never able to recover from Remco’s first attack (Evenepoel), on the descent I was in full swing and the sentence was irrevocable on the climb. I missed something, I thought I was physically fine, I did the race I had to do, the team did the race they had to do, congratulations to all the guys. Honestly, I think I’m at my level and I couldn’t give more, “said Benoit Cosnefroy at the microphone of the Equipe channel.
In the sprint, Colbrelli, who took almost no stint at Evenepoel in the last 10 kilometers, imposed his power. On the ground, the Belgian was totally annoyed and sent an arm of honor that spoke volumes… Colbrelli, who was running almost at home – he lives 60 km from Trento – could be elated. This European title is an apotheosis for the Bahrain sprinter Victorious, who at 31 years old had the best season of his career (Italian Champion, stage of the Tour de Romandie, Critérium du Dauphiné, general classification and stage of the Benelux Tour, 2nd and 3rd on the… mountain stages of the Tour de France).
The European Championships are also a real specialty for Italy, which has achieved a quadruple with this 4th victory in 4 years after the titles of Matteo Trentin (2018), Elia Viviani (2019) and Giacomo Nizzolo (2020).