Dascalu waits for his moment and wins the European Championship after launching an attack on the last lap
Vlad Dascalu remained in the leading group until the last lap when he launched the attack that earned him the victory in the European Championships. The Romanian took the gold in a race with alternatives that was open until the end. Forster finished second and Luca Braidot third. Schwarzbauer was again one of the protagonists of the day and finished fourth, while Valero was fifth.
Dascalu becomes the new European Champion after winning with an attack on the last lap
The race started under a sun that had already dried almost completely the Polish track. The first meters fell on the side of Blums, with a great start by David Campos. However, it was Schwarzbauer, as so often happens, who began to open the track on the first lap.
The German, true to his style, rode with the sole strategy of competing without concessions from the start. A brutal pace during the first minutes was enough to open a gap of 10 seconds with the rest of the line. Behind, Blums, Campos, Forster and Fini were leading the chasing group.
Schwarzbauer closed the first lap with a 5-second lead over the rest of the field, who were pressing from behind. The gap disappeared soon after. Blums stuck to the wheel and the lead was formed by a huge group of riders. Campos kept the pulse of the race in an extraordinary fourth place, while Valero was already in the top 10.
The German continued with his impressive display of strength and, despite no longer having an advantage, kept his ambition to keep the lead while Campos took second place. The apparent calmness served to stretch the group and to make a small cut after the first eight riders.
And then Campos took a step forward and decided to take the lead of the race. Schwarzbauer handed over the baton to him to stay on his wheel, while Dascalu, Forster, Luca Braidot, Litscher, Valero, Foidl and Guerrini were following them.
The start of the next lap saw an exchange of cards at the front: Valero sprinted to take the lead in the face of Schwarzbauer's attempt, who did not let up and returned to the lead shortly after.
Valero regained first place so that his legs could take on the hard task of pulling the race. For his part, Campos slowed down a bit, lost a few positions —with stumbles included without major consequences— and from then on he had to row from a more backward place.
The nine riders at the front rode one after the other. Schwarzbauer took the lead again as Forster showed the handlebars for the first time in the entire race after a low-profile start. Dascalu also showed the colors of his jersey, but Schwarzbauer took the lead from him.
The race continued with a large lead group that showed the leaders were evenly matched but suggested that perhaps some were saving their strength for the decisive moment.
Braidot then moved to the front of the group, just a moment before Forster did the same. The Italian made a move that left everyone behind except Forster himself, who hung onto his wheel and together they opened up a gap of about 10 seconds.
The Braidot-Forster pair continued to push hard but were unable to increase the lead, which seemed to lose its cushion at times. What seemed like a mirage became reality and Dascalu, Schwarzbauer and De Froindmont made contact with them. For his part, Valero came from behind but could not close the small gap that separated him from the group.
Last lap. Dascalu assumed the responsibility of leading the race and managed to open a gap of a couple of seconds. Schwarzbauer and Forster lost a bit of steam and the lead grew to 5 seconds, while Braidot gave up a little.
And so Dascalu rode the last stretch of the course to the finish line and certified his victory at the European Championships. Behind him, Forster, who is in a sweet moment of the season and in a good form, took the silver, while Luca Braidot took the bronze.
Special mention should be made of Schwarzbauer, who once again emptied himself from the start and once again became one of the main attractions of the race.
Results European XCO Championships 2023 Poland - Men's
- Vlad Dascalu 1:19'41"
- Lars Forster +14"
- Luca Braidot +19"
- Luca Schwarzbauer +27"
- David Valero +30"
- Pierre De Froidmont +54"
- Sebastian Fini +1'03"
- Thomas Litscher +1'08"
- Marcel Guerrini +1'16"
- Ondrej Cink +1'29"