Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Herklotz's Redemption: GP Palio del Recioto

Streaking down the final twisty descent with just 3 kilometers left, 18 year-old Silvio Herklotz went flying off the road. Crashing hard, the Berliner scrambled out of the ditch and set off again, his small lead now evaporated. Rounding the last corner in the leading group of 9, Herklotz was still surprisingly fresh for being out front on his own but Caleb Ewan bested him in the sprint to the line. It was a bittersweet taste in Herklotz's mouth, especially after he came 2nd just the day before in the Giro del Belvedere in another close sprint. That was 2013. He would take revenge in 2014.

2014 didn't start out very well for Herklotz after crashing at 60 km/h thanks to a parked car at Trofej Umag and then he developed bronchitis at the Istrian Spring Trophy, which caused him to DNF the final stage. We saw the beginnings of form at Triptyque Monts et Chateaux and then finally a somewhat return to form at Circuit des Ardennes, where he finished comfortably in 13th overall. He experienced a near repeat from 2013 at the Giro del Belvedere, where he finished 2nd in a two-up sprint with Simone Andreetta. Would Palio del Recioto be different?

Leaving from Negrar, a breakaway of 19 was able to get away early on the eight circuits of 18.2 kilometers. The breakaway, including Alexey Vermeulen (USA/BMC Devo), Christian Mager (Stolting), Campbell Flakemore (Australia), Simone Velasco & Giacomo Berlato (Zalf-Euromobil), Giulio Ciccone (Colpack) and Raimondas Rumsas' son, Raimondas Rumsas. The break got a maximum of 5 minutes but that was still with 100 kilometers to go, long before the peloton really got going.

Notably, Astana Continental missed out on the early breakaway so they felt obliged to chase...and chase...and chase some more. Seriously, the Kazakh squad, who was riding for Michele Scartezzini, just put themselves on the front for the next 50 kilometers and rode the breakaway down until the group came all back together with 50km to go.

With just 52 riders left in the main group, the race headed onto the final 34 kilometer loop that included the tough Corrubio climb, which has two different summits and included a technical downhill to the finish. On the lower slopes of the climb, Iuri Filosi (Colpack) attacked and drew out teammate Manuele Senni, Silvio Herklotz (Stolting), Robert Power (Australia) and Stefano Nardelli (Gavardo-Tecmor). The quintet raced up the Corrubio climb with no rider able to get any distance on the other. It was on the descent where the drama began.

Filosi, who was the impetus that created the breakaway, had a mechanical at the beginning of the descent. Then, in a carbon copy of 2013, Herklotz attacked on the downhill with 6 kilometers to go. Riding like he was in MotoGP, Herklotz was throwing the bike throw the corners and absolutely railing it. Heading into the final kilometer, Herklotz's lead was unassailable and the German U23 champion was able to raise his hands as he crossed the line solo. Redemption is so sweet. Herklotz admitted to some fears about the descent post-race, especially after his tumble in 2013, but he turned off his brain quickly and put his fears out the window. Herklotz's bike handling skills are very high and is one of the best descending riders, not to mention uphill, in the U23 class.

Coming in behind Herklotz was 18-year old Robert Power, who lead in the small group sprint for 2nd ahead of Nardelli and Senni. Lukas Spengler, the 19-year old with BMC Development, has been riding very well over the last two weeks and attacked out of the chasing peloton to take 5th ahead of Filosi. Spengler was 7th at Monday's Giro del Belvedere and 5th at Saturday's ZLM Tour in the Netherlands. Quite a tear for the young Swiss rider. While Luka Pibernik attacked for 7th place, Michele Scartezzini, whose Astana Continental team did all of that work in the build-up to the finale, lead in the sprint for 8th. Woohoo.

Other riders who finished well on both days include Gianni Moscon (Zalf-Euromobil), who finished 6th in Belvedere and 9th in Palio del Recioto, Luca Chirico (Mg.Kvis-Trevigiani), who finished 3rd and 13th respectively, as well as Alessandro Tonelli (Zalf-Euromobil) and Alexey Vermeulen (BMC Development), who both finished in the top 20 on both days of racing.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Andreetta beats Herklotz for Giro del Belvedere win

While Zalf-Euromobil has been on quite the roll this year, pretty much none of their victories up until now have meant anything. I went on about Nicolas Marini winning 6 races this spring but the competition was just the best in Italy and while Zalf won some hillier races as well, this race was the Treviso-based squad's first properly big result of the year. Just a mere 1 hour from the team's home base of Castelfranco Veneto, the Giro del Belvedere went around the surrounding area of the hamlet of Cordignano; Villa di Villa to be exact.

Homeboy did it (Photo: Italiaciclismo)

While this was a home race for the team, it was something even more to Simone Andreetta. Andreetta is from the town of Vittorio Veneto, which is just 10 kilometers from the start/finish line of this race, and if he is like any other young kid growing up on a racing bike, he went out and did the hardest climbs in his area, ad nauseam. This includes the Montaner climb, which is just a short spin outside of his childhood door and features prominently on the Belvedere course; being hit twice over the final two circuits. It was a trip in the way back machine for Andreetta; back to a simpler time when it was just between the hill and himself.

The peloton clipped in and set off to tackle 10 laps of a 12.1 kilometer course, which included the Conche climb, before hitting two circuits of a longer 16.5 kilometer course, which featured the Montaner climb. 154 kilometers in all and just mere kilometers into the race, the main breakaway was formed. A group of 17, including the like of Davide Martinelli (Colpack), Giacomo Berlato & Gianni Moscon (Zalf-Euromobil) and Phil Bauhaus (Stölting), got away and got a maximum gap of just 1'40" as the peloton was keen on not letting things get too out of hand.

With 45 kilometers to go, the breakaway was shutdown and nothing was able to get away while the race was preparing for the difficult Montaner climb. Zalf controlled it over the top of the first passage, lead over by Moscon and Andreetta, while everyone seemed to be waiting for the final passage of the climb to do anything. A group of roughly 40 reached the bottom of the climb for the 2nd and final time but that number was soon to be reduced. Stölting took the initiative and three of their riders including Silvio Herklotz, Yuriy Vasyliv and who I think was Christian Mager, just decided to ride of the front and try and pound everyone into submission while launching Herklotz. Andreetta lept out of the chasing group as was able to bridge up to the Stölting trio. By the time they summited the climb, it was just Herklotz and Andreetta left for the descent and flat finish. The duo just released the breaks and bombed the descent, getting a gap of nearly 30 seconds by the time they hit the bottom.

With 1 kilometer to go, the duo had 20 seconds but they decided to dick around for a little while until Herklotz opened up the sprint but it was the hometown Italian who was able to come around to take the victory with some ease. It was Andreetta's first big international win since he won a stage of the Giro della Lunigiana as a junior in 2011 and it was Zalf's first international win of the year, which always makes the bosses happy. Herklotz was denied the win here for the 2nd year running, messing up the sprint yet again after losing to Stefan Küng last year. It is a return to form for the young German who had been a bit off the torrid pace that he set last year in his 1st U23 season. Leading in the chasing group for 3rd a couple seconds later was was Luca Chirico (Mg.Kvis-Trevigiani) ahead of Luka Pibernik (Radenska) and Vasyliv.

Andreetta has been close before in major races, going 2nd last year in Trofeo Piva Banca, and is being touted as one of the best Italy has to offer for the future. He is the class of '93 so he still has another U23 season left, if he chooses so, and he rode Tour de l'Avenir last year really well and won the Memorial Gerry Gasparotto earlier this year in a solo breakaway. So if he ends up turning pro, I would be surprised if the Italian Federation tries to get a Worlds bid for Treviso that ends up going through Vittorio Veneto.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Weekend Update: Gomirato recompensed in Cimetta; Arden Challenge & everything else plus more

While the weekend was dominated by two bigger events on Saturday, that was by no means everything that happened. With Easter Sunday, it was a much lighter racing calendar as many of the races were pushed to Easter Monday, which is still celebrated in Europe but for many in the USA, it is just another work day.

Circuito del Termen

The contrast between Gomirato (c) and Mareczko (green, l) is quite amusing.
(Photo: ItaliaCiclismo)
While Nicolas Marini, Davide Martinelli and the rest of the Italian National Team was still getting their heads kicked in up in Northern Europe, it was business as usual on Sunday for Zalf-Euromobil. While head hunter Jakub Mareczko (Viris Maserati) was present, the ever faithful lead-out man Davide Gomirato and Daniele Cavasin held down the fort with aplomb for the Veneto-based team.

While the race was pretty short at just 98 kilometers, Zalf-Euromobil and Viris-Maserati kept it together for the big bunch sprint. Gomirato, who usually is the last man on the Zalf-Euromobil train and drops off Marini on a regular basis, had the favor returned to him by Cavasin and the older Venetian, who is 26 this year, was able to topple Mareczko, who had beat both Caleb Ewan and Marini in the last couple of weeks. It was Gomirato's first win in nearly 4 years and it was well deserved after all of the work he puts in on the sprint train. Mareczko was definitely grumpy in 2nd place as he thought he would easily take the sprint while Cavasin was in 3rd ahead of Romanian Andrei Voicu.

G-Skin Arden Challenge

Why do i get the worst images in my head when I read the word, G-Skin? Seriously, I've tried acting like an adult but obviously that doesn't keep me from shaking my head and chuckling. Anyways, the Arden Challenge is a series of four one-day road races in the Luxembourg province of Belgium. Last year, Simon Yates won the overall competition (based upon points) and past winners include David Boucher, Thomas Rabou and Niels Albert.

I do not have many details because there was no live ticker and next to no coverage. Stage 1 was won by Jan Lof, who I have never heard of before now. I see he finished 14th in the Elite Men's National TT for the Netherlands last year and has raced throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. American U23 Dan Eaton, who was a sensation this spring in the US, finished 5th, which was good enough for best U23.

Stage 2 was dominated by the USA National Team as Jeff Perrin won the 136 kilometer race while Dan Eaton finished in 3rd while Niels Vandorsselaer (Baguet Bicycle Center) was sandwiched between the two for 2nd.

Eamon Franck thought he won stage 3 on Sunday but inside the last 30 meters, Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bissell) came through to take the victory while Jasper Dult (CT 2020) finished 3rd to make it the 2nd-all U23 podium of the weekend.

The Arden Challenge finished up today with Antoine Warnier taking the victory while American Jeff Perrin (USA National) took 3rd place overall to secure the overall classification as well as the best U23 competition.

Other Results

-While he missed out at the Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23, Pierre-Roger Latour took out his fury on peloton at Saint Lye, located in the Champagne region, on Sunday. Latour got away with his Chambery CF teammate Nans Peters and  Bruno Chardon (ASPTT Nancy) and they got a lead of over 6 minutes ahead of the chasing peloton before Latour dropped the hammer and went solo to take the victory 48 seconds ahead of Peters and 1:34 ahead of Chardon with the peloton remnants coming in 6:43 down.

-Russian and Ukranian teams were messing around in the 5-stage GP Adygeya. U23 Alexander Foliforov won the queen stage to Lago Naki outside of the provincial capital of Maykop, which featured a finishing climb of ~14 kilometers and nearly 900 meters of elivation gain. Ilnur Zakarin (RusVelo) won the overall (you might remember Zakarin as the doper who came back in 2012 as a U23 and went on to start his pro career with RusVelo) while Oleg Zemlyakov (Vino!4Eva) was the best U23 rider, finishing 11th overall at 4'33" behind Zakarin. I do have to say that it would be fucking hell to be a Ukranian racing in Russia right now, especially if you were not in favor of Putin. Some people say sports should transcend politics or whatever but I'm sure there were some terse moments in the peloton.

Coming later: Giro del Belvedere report

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Anthony Turgis takes shocking win in U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege

Why do I have this pang of dread somewhere inside me that the peloton is going to get really fucking French here in the next couple of years. I admire the French but really, can some other nation start churning out young riders like The Hexagon is? I only say this because it seems like everything the French have been touching lately has been turning to gold in terms of rider development and they have been winning a lot on the U23 side. After Thomas Boudat's win in the ZLM Tour, of course just an hour or so later Anthony Turgis (CC Nogent-sur-Oise) lept off of Tao Geoghegan Hart's wheel to win the Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23. Greedy French.

The U23 edition of L-B-L is basically the 2nd half of the pro course; starting in Bastogne, the race winds around lower Wallonie before heading back towards Liege, hitting 9 climbs including La Redoute, Saint-Nicolas and the Cote d'Ans before finishing in the Ans velodrome in Alleur, which sits on the northern outskirts of Liege.

A breakaway of 6 went away early in the race before many of the climbs and got a maximum of 6 minutes. To be honest, I was still sleeping during the first half of the race so I couldn't really tell you much that happened. Mathieu Le Lavandier (CC Etupes) crashed with 60 kilometers to go in the race and broke his collarbone. The race really began to touch off at this point as TJ Eisenhart (BMC Development) attacked and was joined quickly by Antoine Warnier (Color Code-Biowanze). The duo set off in pursuit of the breakaway, whose gap was plummeting. As the race hit the mythical La Redoute, Warnier went right past the breakaway and went solo over the top of the climb. Warnier's bid for freedom was short-lived as he was brought back into the fold by the pack, which was now split due to La Redoute, shortly after with 40 kilometers left in the race. Between La Redoute and the Cote de Tilff, multiple attacks were launched by riders including Loic Vliegen & Dylan Teuns (BMC Development), Magnus Cort (CULT Energy) and Paco Ghistelinck (Etixx) but all were brought back before the Tilff climb.

On the Tilff with 21 km to go, Louis Vervaeke (Lotto-Belisol U23) launched a solo move and quickly got a gap of 20 seconds. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Bissell) tried to bridge briefly but was brought back into the fold. Vervaeke held out for another 8 kilometers before being brought back in with 13 km to go. At the base of the Saint-Nicolas, Pierre-Roger Latour (Chambery CF) attacked but was quickly passed by Derk Abel Beckeringh (Croford), who puttered out right as he summited the climb.

Just as there was a lull in the peloton after the summit, Dylan Teuns (BMC Development) attacked solo and pulled out an advantage over the bunch. A counter-attacked was launched by Geoghegan Hart and Anthony Turgis (CC Nogent-sur-Oise) and the duo was able to latch onto Teuns, who was 5th in the same race last year, with 6 kilometers left.  On the Cote d'Ans, the trio had 11 seconds on a small group of favorites and the gap was just beginning to wane ever so slightly.

Safely over the final climb, Loic Vliegen took a flier and was able to latch himself onto the group just before they were getting ready to enter the velodrome. The peloton was right on their ass so Geoghegan Hart took the initiative to keep the pace high before the sprint. The Hackney rider lead the sprint from way out, starting at around 400 meters to go, just to ensure the breakaway was not caught by the chasing peloton. Turgis, who was last wheel, popped out from behind and powered away for the victory, the first French victory here since Christophe Kern in 2002, ahead of Teuns, Geoghegan Hart and Vliegen. Just behind Vliegen, Espoirs Central pick for the win Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Belisol U23) won the sprint for 5th, which he was very frustrated with simply because he had the legs to do better than 5th but after problems with his chain on La Redoute and being shuffled out during key times, he had to deal with his place.

1. Anthony Turgis (CC Nogent sur Oise)
2. Dylan Teuns (BMC Devo)
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Bissell)
4. Loic Vliegen (BMC Devo)
5. Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Belisol U23)
6. Sam Spokes (Etixx)
7. Frederik Ludvigsson (Giant-Shimano Devo)
8. Floris De Tier (EFC-OPQS)
9. Tanner Putt (Bissell)
10. Derk Abel Beckeringh (Croford)

It was a great day for the class of '94 as both Boudat and Turgis took wins in the two biggest races of the weekend. Turgis himself was even surprised with his win as he was just looking to get a top10 result but after a strong ride at the Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 Nations Cup one week prior, the form was there. Turgis excels in cyclo-cross but he is no stranger to the road as he was a very strong junior and will be looking to join his brother, Jimmy (Roubaix Lille Metropole), in the pro ranks soon.

The youngsters from '95 were showing there talent with Geoghegan Hart, who was originally down for being a worker for Tanner Putt, taking 3rd. Sam Spokes (Etixx) has been riding very well as of late (14th in RvV U23) and his 6th place is definitely a big result.

It was a big group who came to the line together so many big names such as Magnus Cort, Pierre-Roger Latour, Jens Wallays and Louis Vervaeke finished rather anonymously in the bunch.

Many of the big one-day races for the U23 races, at least for spring, have now passed and the stage races with actual mountains will begin to pop up. The one gem that many future classics stars are looking forward to is Paris-Roubaix Espoirs, which is back after a one-year hiatus and will be taking place on June 1.

Bou-Bou-Bou Ya: Thomas Boudat wins the ZLM Tour Nations Cup

France has been spoiled with talent the last few years and that is not about to stop anytime soon. Chalk it up to doping or some weak development years but until a few years ago with Romain Sicard and Tony Gallopin, the French had been turning out some weak classes but ever since 2009 they have been pure gold. Bardet, Barguil, Bouhanni, Coquard, Demare, Pinot...need I say more?

That tradition is continuing with a one Thomas Boudat. Boudat should be familiar to those that have watched any track racing in the past couple years as he is the current World Champion in the omnium discipline and possesses similar skills to Bryan Coquard, who is a friend (the two won the 2013 European U23 Madison together). The Vendée U rider is just a 2nd year U23 but he possesses some devastating speed that even those that are somewhat familiar with are nervous about. For evidence, just look to the La Côte Picarde Nations Cup from earlier this week; Boudat was marked out by his breakaway mates after Jens Wallays attacked because they didn't want to tow him back just so he could take the sprint. He isn't just a sprinter though and is able to get over a few hills.

The ZLM Tour, which features a twisting loop around the coastal province of Zeeland in the Netherlands, kicked off on Saturday with a furious pace. Within 10 minutes of the start, the races was in pieces. Welcome to the Netherlands, kids. If you weren't already aware, you were going to eat shit in the gutter for the next 4 hours. After the first hour, a group of nearly 20 got off the front including riders from France, Italy, Australia and the USA and were able to get a lead. With just nearly 100 kilometers to go, the chasing peloton was able to fuse itself back to the big breakaway but for those caught out, it was a going to be a long day. A group with Jon Dibben, Loïc Chetout, Davide Martinelli, Artur Shaymuratov and Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz were able to get off the front and they actually got a nice gap that extended to over 1 minute but there was a severe communication breakdown. Chetout was covering moves for his teammates Marc Sarreau and Boudat while Martinelli also had a sprinter in the peloton. Dibben was the impetus in the group but once the cooperation failed then the gap began to plummet. That is where the race truly broke open.

The peloton had turned on the accelerator mainly thanks to the Danes, who had missed the move, and once they got close to the breakaway, attacks started to fly off the front. Lukas Spengler (Switzerland) moved off the front to bridge and while the breakaway was being caught, a reshuffling occurred. Chetout was able to stay with Spengler and they were joined by Sarreau & Boudat (France), Mads Würtz (Denmark), Evgeny Shalunov (Russia), Ryan Mullen (Ireland), Justin Oien (USA), Sven Erik Bystrøm (Norway) and Tomasz Mickiewicz (Poland). The group of 10 seemed to be a good combination of riders and while a few nations missed out including Australia, GB and the Netherlands but France had the numbers in the breakaway and the horsepower to drive it. With the final two-17 kilometer circuits to go, the gap was already at 45 seconds and holding steady. The peloton was led by various nations including the Dutch and Slovenians but nobody was bringing back the breakaway.

Chetout was doing the work of 3 men keeping everything under control and marking counter-attacks in the breakaway as the kilometers ticked down. Inside the last kilometer, Würtz attacked and Boudat was able to latch onto his wheel and while the others were clamoring to get back on terms, Boudat launched his sprint to take the victory while Würtz managed 2nd ahead of Sarreau in 3rd and Shalunov in 4th. Spengler lead in the rest of the break for 5th. Behind the group, doper Kirill Sveshnikov (more on him later) came in ahead of the peloton for 11th while Lorenzo Manzin capped off a great day for France by taking the bunch sprint for 12th.

Boudat's victory is just another confirmation of his talent while Würtz landed his first major podium as a senior after a promising junior career. Both are from the class of '94, which also includes breakaway mates Mullen, Spengler and Mickiewicz. Boudat rides for Vendée U on the road and while he will be focusing on the track at least through Rio 2016, he will be making his presence known on the road in the meantime. If 2nd and 1st in your last two Nations Cups were proof enough...

Justin Oien's 8th place is very promising for the first-year U23 from California and is a sign of huge things to come for the American, who was 10th last year in junior Paris-Roubaix.

Ryan Mullen's 6th place was a big boost for Irish hopes in the UCI rankings. The Irish missed out on places in the U23 Worlds RR last year and Mullen was able to get valuable points for his nation in hopes of getting a berth for the Worlds in Ponferrada, Spain. 

Side Note: Kirill Sveshnikov just sort of snuck back in under the radar after it was announced that he failed a doping test at Russian Track Nationals. He was set to race in Cali, Colombia for the World Track Championships before the announcement but he has re-appeared in the last week by taking the start at Klasika Primavera on the 13th of April, followed by La Côte Picarde and ZLM Tour. Now his coach on his trade team Lokosphinx Alexander Kuznetsov, the father of tennis grand slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova and former coach of Vyacheslav Ekimov, stated that the positive test came from a minute amount of Clenbuterol and that it must have been from tainted meat at one of the World Cups in Mexico. There was no announcements that he was cleared but he just magically started to appear at races again so unless the UCI or the Russians have something to tell us then I guess Mr. Sveshnikov is back racing again. Oh joy.

While the French celebrated Boudat on Saturday, they would be jumping for joy again after Lige-Bastogne-Liege U23...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Prize money from GiroBio 2012 to be paid out

Remember that kerfuffle that I talked about briefly last year when the was GiroBio fighting to stay alive and there were some teams unhappy because they had not received a cent of their prize money from the 2012 event? Well nearly two years later, the issue is finally coming to an end...maybe. At the annual meeting of the FCI (Federazione Ciclistica Italiana) that had just finished, it was confirmed that teams and riders from the 2012 GiroBio will finally be receiving their prize money.

Race Director Giancarlo Broci was desperate last year to try and continue the GiroBio even though he owed people money for the 2012 edition and he was way behind in securing sponsors for the 2013 edition. Broci offered a plan to have teams pay 5,000 euro for a place in the race, which would secure the race, but the teams shot that plan down instantly because of the bad precedent it would set between them and race promoters. The race was postponed indefinitely while Broci sought after sponsors to somehow revive the race. At last year's FCI meeting, there were talks of team's non-payment from the 2012 edition of the race and the federation ordered Broci & the organizers to pay out. Well it turns out that the mandate fell on deaf ears because Broci and the GiroBio just decided not to pay out any of the money for the prizes and since this is common place with many races, many just forgot about it. Until now...

The FCI, who was unaware of the non-payment up until now because they believed that Broci and co. would follow through with their ruling from the year prior, were informed by Italian amateur teams of the non-payment and according to VP Daniela Isetti, will be giving money directly to riders and teams, which should have been taken care of in 2012. It is an embarrassing case for the FCI because of their lack of enforcement and complacency in assuming the money would get to where it needed to go. Hopefully there is a follow-up this year to make sure riders are actually paid and it is not just assumed once again.

The 2012 GiroBio was won by Joe Dombrowski (now SKY) ahead of Fabio Aru (Astana) and Pierre Paolo Penasa (retired).

Credit to for breaking the story on the Wednesday including an update on Thursday.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Welcome to Wallay World!: Jens Wallays wins La Côte Picarde Nations Cup

Vive le France! The Griswolds arrived at Wally World Europe! Just in time to see Belgian Jens Wallays to attack his breakaway mates with one kilometer to go and take out the 23rd La Côte Picarde ahead of a sprinting Thomas Boudat and Soren Kragh Andersen. To those of you who are new, Wallays might sound familiar because Jens' big brother is Jelle Wallays, who rides for Topsport Vlaanderen. Jens is no slouch either as he is the current Belgian U23 RR Champion but let's get back to the race...

A breakaway of 5 spent the majority of the race off the front that included Ryan Mullen (Ireland), Luka Pibernik (Slovenia), Jon Dibben (GB), Mario Gonzalez (Spain) and Sergiy Kozachenko (Ukraine). The group got a maximum of 7 minutes over the opening flat kilometers before the race hit a few bumps. With over 80 kilometers to the line, the wind and tight roads were already wreaking havoc on the peloton with riders including Ignazio Moser (Italy) being dropped away. Kozachenko dropped away from the breakaway, who continued to chug along to the tune of "I think we can, I think we can...".

With 50 kilometers to go, the gap was down to 3'25" and it would begin to drop like a stone. When the race crossed the finish line for the first time to do two finishing circuits, the breakaway began to blow up. First it was Ryan Mullen quickly followed by Jon Dibben to leave just Pibernik and Gonzalez out front. Gonzalez, who rides on the Polish Active Jet team, was putting in a great ride with Pibernik, who is slated to join Lampre for 2015 as a neo-pro. While Gonzalez was strong, Pibernik was stronger and the Slovenian pulled away from the Spaniard with 30 kilometers to go on one of the two uphills on the finishing circuit. When he crossed the line to take the final 18.6 kilometer lap, Pibernik only had 55 seconds on the peloton, who was in full buzzsaw mode, spitting riders out all over the place.

With just 9 kilometers to go, the feisty Slovenian was brought back by the peloton but just because the race was back together with a group of nearly 50 did not mean that it was headed towards a bunch sprint. With about 6 kilometers to go on a rise in the course, 9 riders were drawn out including Jens Wallays (Belgium), Thomas Boudat (France), Soren Kragh Andersen (Denmark), Simon Pellaud (Switzerland), Mikel Aristi (Spain), Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Kazakhstan), Jan Dieteren (Germany), Gregor Mühlberger (Austria) and Kirill Yatsevich (Russia). It was a strange amalgam of riders with some sprinters, some climbers and some rouleurs thrown in there but they worked well together as the race entered the final kilometers. In the final kilometer, Wallays attack out of a roundabout and nobody in the group was taking up the impetus to chase the Belgian with a few looking at Boudat, the current omnium World Champion on the track, because of his big turn of speed and not wanting to drag him to the line.

In the end, it was Wallays who was able to enjoy the final meters to take an impressive victory while Boudat and Kragh lead in the remnants of the breakaway. Right on the breakaway's coattails were the peloton, lead in by French Basque Loïc Chetout, who finished on the same time as the riders in the breakaway. Full results of the race can be seen on DirectVelo. With the win, Belgium took over the lead in the Nations Cup classification by 11 points over the Dutch and 17 over the Suisse.

It would be important to note some of the riders who came in way down and were time cut that included wunder-sprinter Nicolas Marini, Ignazio Moser, Mads Pedersen, Dieter Bouvry and Marc Soler. Marini was involved in a crash with one-lap to go and injured his hand, which was not seriously fortunately.

1. Jens Wallays (Belgium)
2. Thomas Boudat (France)
3. Soren Kragh Andersen (Denmark)
4. Simon Pellaud (Switzerland)
5. Mikel Aristi (Spain)
6. Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Kazakhstan)
7. Kirill Yatsevich (Russia)
8. Jan Dieteren (Germany)
9. Gregor Mühlberger (Austria)
10. Loïc Chetout (France)

The spring Nations Cups end this Saturday in Zeeland, the Netherlands with the ZLM Tour, which will included some dykes, wind and gutter racing, just in case anyone hasn't had their fill yet.