For a year, Attila Valter will proudly wear the Magyar colours on the biggest races of the calendar. On Friday, in the small city of Pannonhalma, in the northwest of the country, the 24-year-old young man became Hungarian champion on the road race for the very first time. After 168 kilometres, he outsprinted his friend Marton Dina on the final cobbled climb. He also took, on this occasion, his first win with the Groupama-FDJ cycling team.
After skipping the time trial on Wednesday, a few days after he was forced to leave the Route d’Occitanie, Attila Valter clearly had his eyes on the road race of his national championships. On Thursday, 168 kilometres were to be completed to conquer gold. The riders had to cover nine laps of a 16.5-kilometre circuit, and three and a half laps of a 5.4-kilometre local loop. Also, the finish line was located after a cobbled climb of about one kilometre. This could perfectly suit the former wearer of the pink jersey, but the hardest part was to get there while being still in the mix. “It was a hectic race, like every year”, said Attila a few hours later. “It’s really hard to race alone and not have the support of your teammates. I think there was a record of participants this year, with almost 90 runners on the start line. The course was slightly hilly, and we put the hammer down from the gun. We raced hard”.
“It means a lot to me”, Attila Valter
The race situation settled down after a few tens of kilometres. “A breakaway went, but unfortunately there was a crash with a car”, reported Attila. “I was chasing behind them in the bunch, then I had a very lucky moment. I just went alone, without having to attack. I just took a good turn, and everyone looked at each other behind me. When I realized I had a gap, I tried to join the front group straight away. At that moment, there were still a hundred kilometres to go, or even more. In the break, there was my friend Marton Dima and two other guys. In the back, the other rider from Eolo-Kometa was controlling to prevent them from chasing. Basically, the race finished there”. As the finish approached, the leading quartet became a duo. “We had a tough circuit at the end, and Marton and I were the last to stay away”, added Attila. “He was really strong, he surprised me. I had some cramps at the end, but this time I really trusted my sprint, and I knew the finish. I knew how long I could wait, and I opened 250 metres from the line. It was really steep at the end, and I was just faster”.
At the top of the final climb, the Hungarian was able to raise his arms in the air to celebrate his first road race title, three years after winning the time trial. “I had a lucky race, and I obviously needed strong legs too”, he said. “I got both, so I’m super happy to have this jersey. It means a lot. I will have the stripes forever on my shoulders. I’m really happy I can ride this season and the next one with the Hungarian champion’s jersey, especially after this year’s Giro. It means a lot to me.”