Saturday, September 20, 2014

U23 World Time Trial Championship Preview

Contre la montre. The race of truth. One man against the road. Does anyone want to here any more overused Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin quotes to describe a time trial? Didn't think so.

The U23 World Time Trial Championship is going on its 19th year (before it was just professionals and amateurs) and for the most part, the winners have gone on to some level of success as a pro. Success can be used in its loosest sense with guys like Markus Fothen but still, if you get a good result at Worlds then you should at least get a chance in the pro ranks.

For an example, there have been 24 riders on the podium of the U23 World TT in a ten year span from 2004-2013. 19 of them are currently professionals in either the World Tour or Professional Continental. Three others are still riding on the continental level in Dominique Cornu, Rasmus Quaade and Yoann Paillot. The former is well...doing not much while the latter two are still riding well. The only one not riding anymore is Kiwi Peter Latham, who was a significant part of the New Zealand Team Pursuit squad in 3 Olympics. The enigma of the bunch is Dmytro Grabovskyy, who was the absolute darling child as a U23, signed with Quick Step, proceeded to get a vicious drinking problem that nearly killed him, made a comeback, went off the wagon and now lives in Israel with his family and has ridden national events there.

Those 19 riders that are still kicking are: Janez Brajkovic, Thomas Dekker, Vicenzo Nibali, Mikhail Ignatiev, Jerome Coppel, Lars Boom, Adriano Malori, Patrick Gretsch, Cameron Meyer, Jack Bobridge, Nelson Oliviera, Taylor Phinney, Luke Durbridge, Marcel Kittel, Michael Hepburn, Damien Howson, Anton Vorobyev and Lasse Hansen. A pretty good list there.

The Course




There are a few noticeable differences about this year's course compared to last year's course in Florence. First, the course is 7 kilometers shorter than last year and more technical than last year's nearly dead straight affair. Second, this course will have a climb right near the finish that might prove a little tricky for some. It hits a maximum of 7% but the climb only lasts for maybe 1 kilometer before a sharp downhill into the final three kilometers, which only features one turn about 800 meters from the line.

The contenders are going to have to be riders that put out boatloads of power in a straight line but can handle a bike reasonably well. There are definitely a few that fit the bill.

The Contenders

I have three main contenders for the U23 World TT Championship that I think will separate themselves from the pack fairly well. Campbell Flakemore, Stefan Küng and Ryan Mullen are my three riders that I think will set themselves apart and fight it out of the medals. The start lists are still not finalized but these three seem to be a cut above the rest. I know that is excluding riders such as Davide Martinelli, Marlen Zmorka, Frederik Frison, TJ Eisenhart, etc. but these three are my choices.


Flakemore won the rain-soaked Tour de l'Avenir prologue and finished 3rd at last weekend's Chrono Champenois, a scant three seconds ahead of Stefan Küng. Flakemore had a poor early season but has come around and is continually lauded by his teammates for his selfless attitude. Flakmore won the Chrono Champenois last year and finished 4th at Worlds in Florence, just 12 seconds off the podium.  He also won time trials in the Thüringen Rundfahrt and Olympia's Tour last year so while things have quieted down a bit this year for him, I expect him to come in with some scary good form.

Küng will be seen as the new Cancellara by some. He is the current European U23 pursuit champion, 2nd in the World Elite Pursuit Championship in Cali, the current European U23 TT and RR champion and did I mention he won a week long stage race in the Tour de Normandie? Scary fucking talented. It also might help that he is built like a truck (6'3" (1.93) and 185 pounds (84 kg)) but Küng should be taken lightly by no one in any race. He was just 3 seconds off Flakemore at Champenois and he will be hungry to stand on the podium.

Mullen will be the British Isles favorite. Yeah I'm aware he is declared for Ireland but he was born and raised in GB like many of Ireland's talents that ride under the flag. Mullen is the current Irish Elite TT and RR Champion and has been riding a lot of time trials on the British circuit including 2nd in the British 10-mile championships and clocking the 3rd fastest 10-mile in British history. Mullen missed the Chrono Champenois but for good reason as he was racing the Tour of Britain, where he finished 7th in the final TT just 20 seconds behind winner Sir Dame Sherlock Holmes Knight Brad Wiggins.

My prediction? 1. Küng 2. Flakemore 3. Mullen

Now I'm also not a very smart man so let us look at the rest of the field then so I can cover my tracks and tell you all that I didn't forget about <insert rider's name here>.

-Davide Martinelli is the current Italian U23 TT Champion and finished 2nd to Stefan Kung at the European U23 TT Championship. He also finished 2nd in the Tour de l'Avenir prologue but he had much better conditions than winner Campbell Flakemore and others that went late including Kung. Last year, he fell quite flat at Worlds after a promising year. This year will be a test because he has had his most successful year to date but will he be able to perform on the big show?

-Frederik Frison was just out of the top 10 last year with an 11th place in Florence and had a strong Chrono Champenois this year, finishing 8th place, which was in a group within 2 second of one another including Martinelli, Eisenhart, Manakov, etc. He won the big Angreau TT this year in Belgium but he has been light on results.

-TJ Eisenhart had a great Chrono Champenois after a small training camp with Stefan Küng and BMC Devo director Rik Verbrugghe, who wasn't a bad time trialist in his day. Eisenhart was the best of the rest in Champenois with a strong 5th place but he was a good ways off Flakemore and Küng. He is just at Worlds for the TT and he will be wanting to get a top 5, if the podium is a bit out of reach.

-Max Schachmann will be looking to break into the top 10 this year as a 2nd year U23 after his 12th place last year in Florence. The German was 5th in the European Championships and will like the course.

-Steven Lammertink is the sole Dutch entry into the race but he was 4th in the European Championships (and even signed a contract with SEG Racing for 2015).

-I don't know who the Russians will be but they will be looking for a top 10 if their rider is either Viktor Manakov or Alexander Evtushenko. Manakov was 6th in the Chrono Champenois while Evtushenko is the Russian U23 TT Champ and was 3rd in the European Championships.

-Jon Dibben is coming back from a broken elbow in the British U23 TT that halted his season. He isn't always on his TT game but when he is, he is damn good. He did win the Triptyque TT earlier this year

-Gregor Muhlberger has the ability to go top 10 in the time trial and the road race after the electric season he has had. He won time trials in the Istrian Spring Trophy and the Carpathian Couriers Tour along with the Austrian U23 TT, which was combined with the Elite Men so Muhlberger also got 2nd in the Elites. He took a little summer break but seems to be in form with 11th in the 1.HC Tre Valli Varesine as a stagiaire with NetApp-Endura.

-Ukranian Marlen Zmorka has had a troubled year with the violence back home and I can understand if his head isn't in it. He was 6th in the European Championships and won a couple TTs in Italy but will he be able to rally for Worlds?

This article might be updated when I can get a fucking start list from the organizers. We are 2 days out and still nothing is official. The best I have is cyclingfever's list so thank you to them.

*EDIT: Entry list available on the UCI website

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Transfer Update: BMC Development, Moser & Svendsen done, Topsport and more

Quick transfer update before diving deep into World Championship stuff...

BMC Development

While Rik Verbrugghe's ploeg is losing some good guys for 2015 in Dylan Teuns, Loic Vliegen and Stefan Küng, who are all going professional with BMC, but he has reloaded well for next year.

Joining the team for 2015 are three new signings (as of right now) including Swiss Thery Schir, Belgian Nathan Van Hooydonck and Australian Jesse Kerrison.

-Schir is built like brick house and kicks faces in.  He is mainly known from his track exploits as he is the current Swiss Omnium Champion, current U23 European Team Pursuit Champ and was bronze medalist in the Madison World Championship. While he is mainly on the track, Schir is the current Swiss U23 TT Champion...well just because Stefan Küng rode the Elite TT, where he was 2nd behind Cancellara.

-Van Hooydonck is transferring from Bissell Development to ride a more European-based schedule. He was quite the strong junior but this year he spent a lot of time in Belgium finishing up school and riding kermesses until later in summer, when he came over to join his Bissell teammates. He will fit in with the classics squad.

-Kerrison is finally getting some god damn recognition. Verbrugghe must have been reading my twitter because I just mentioned a couple week ago that Kerrison needs more respect as a sprinter (he does have 9 wins this year) and it seems like he will be getting a chance in Europe now. He might have a longer transition because the racing style and whatnot but he could be dangerous pretty soon into his career.

Ignazio Moser and Oskar Svendsen move on from cycling

In other news, there were a couple of riders that have announced plans to move on from cycling, at least temporarily in one case.

 Perennial under-performer Ignazio Moser announced his "retirement" from the sport. Moser cited a lack of motivation and drive for his decision to stop racing as well. He had already stopped once as a junior but picked it up again in the U23s and had some decent success but without the drive to get through the rough times, he stagnated and never really hit his peak. He did win a stage in the Tour de Guadeloupe in the beginning of August but he hasn't touched the bike since then. He will be going into the real world but seems to be destined to work with the family's vineyard.

Also announced was Oskar Svendsen's decision to step away from Team Joker and cycling to focus on a degree in psychology at the University of Trondheim. Svendsen was plunged head first into stardom after his win in the junior World TT Championship in 2012 in Valkenburg and a record Vo2max score. His transition to the pros was rough with weak pack skills and motivation that could flucuate at times. He got through the Tour de Bretagne this year rather well but was slammed with a virus that set him back again. He had another high in Valle d'Aosta with a near stage win but then following multiple crashes in l'Avenir, he was out of contention early. He was selected for Worlds but chose to forgo the event and step away from the sport. There is a good probability that he will return to cycling sometime in the near future but he will remain one of the biggest enigmas in cycling's recent memory.

You can go to this article on procycling.no for a deeper look

Elsewhere

-Former Belgian U23 RR Champion Jens Wallays signed with Topsport Vlaanderen for 2 years. This is the team's 5th signing for 2015 including Jef Van Meirhaeghe, Bert Van Lerberghe, Floris De Tier and Oliver Naesen.

-Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 winner Dylan Groenewegen has signed with Roompot-Orange Cycling for 2015. He is always a top 10 contender and should be able to grow with the team in races that he prefers even if I think that team is an just another example of how cycling cannot move on from the past and will still be stuck in old way. Not that I have a strong opinion or anything.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Long Weekend Roundup

Quaade wins Chrono Champenois

In some of the most unsurprising news of the week, Rasmus Quaade won a time trial. Not just any time trial but a very important time trial in front of the World Championships, the Chrono Champenois. Situated in Betheny, which is just north of Reims in the Marne department in the north of France, the Chrono Champenois usually shows who is ready for the U23 World TT Championship. While this is a good U23 predictor, this race isn't strictly U23 thus why Rasmus Quaade was there to show everyone a tutorial on suffering.

For those not familiar with the race, the last three winners have been Campbell Flakemore, Rohan Dennis and Luke Durbridge. Other previous winners include Quaade in 2010 (before he crashed out of Worlds on a medal winning run), Vuelta TT winner Adriano Malori won it twice, Lazlo Bodrogi and Tomas Vaitkus. Lots of U23 World TT winners have ridden here as well as some of the best continental TT riders including the like of Quaade right now.

While Quaade beat everyone by a healthy measure on Sunday, this race proved that the U23 World TT is probably going to be a two horse race between Stefan Küng and Campbell Flakemore. The two stellar time trialists were the last two men to set off in the event and by the end of the 33.4 kilometer course, the two finished just 4 seconds off one another with Flakemore taking the "win" over Küng. They were over a minute faster than the next fastest U23 in TJ Eisenhart, who put in a great ride for 5th overall. While gold and silver might be looking to have two front runners in Ponferrada, Eisenhart is leading a troupe of others just behind these two including Viktor Manakov, Davide Martinelli and Frederik Frison. Another major contender is Irishman Ryan Mullen, who wasn't present but finished 7th in the Tour of Britain TT. We will get to that TT soon enough though...

Bouvry wins stage in Tour de Moselle; misses WC selection

After riding through multiple injuries this year, Dieter Bouvry pulled out a win in the 3rd stage of the Tour de Moselle after attacking his breakaway mates in the final kilometer. While Bouvry was able to take the win in Moselle, he wasn't able to get a selection for the U23 World Championships in Ponferrada. While the first 5 riders were announced, the 6th rider was a mystery until Monday. The selection was given to Kenneth Van Rooy, the Lotto-Belisol U23 rider that won the Top Competitie this year.  Bouvry, who is in his final year as a U23, is suited for the Ponferrada course but will have to be content with first alternate. He dropped out of the final stage of the Tour de Moselle.

U23 Nico Denz (Chambery CF) finished 2nd overall in the Tour de Moselle after a strong breakaway ride and a TT.

Teuns finishes 10th overall in Tour of Britain

Dylan Teuns (BMC) continues to impress as a stagiaire with BMC after finishing 10th overall in the Tour of Britain after taking three top 10 stage finishes on some of the hardest terrain the race had to offer. If it wasn't for a so-so time trial, Teuns would have finished higher up the GC but make no mistake, this kid is for real.

Tao Geoghegan Hart finished the race in 15th overall even after flipping over the bars on the 7th stage in the final corner into Brighton.

Pöstlberger wins Tour Bohemia; Kozhatayev 2nd

In the lead-up to the World Championships, Lukas Pöstlberger took a flyer from 60 kilometers and spent the rest of the race out front to take an impressive win. Coming home nearly 53 seconds later was Kazakh Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Astana CT), who rode much better than his Tour de l'Avenir results.

Ledanois wins Tour du Jura

One of the other best stagiaires of the season has been Kevin Ledanois of Bretagne Seche Environment. After a great Arctic Tour and a selection for the French National U23 team, Ledanois made the break in the Tour du Jura and in the hilly finale, he won the sprint ahead of David Belda, fellow U23 Pierre-Roger Latour and Nicolas Baldo. A good dark horse for Ponferrada.

Everything else...

-Jef Van Meirhaeghe and Bert Van Lerberghe signs with Topsport Vlaanderen

Topsport Vlaanderen continues their yearly signing of the best Belgian talent by signing Van Meirhaeghe (Lotto-Belisol U23) and Van Lerberghe (EFC-OPQS). Van Meirhaeghe is the current Belgian U23 RR Champion and is strong on classics style courses and shorter stage races. Van Lerberghe is a a similar style (finished 2nd in the U23 RR behind JVM) but is a bit stronger in the TT and is seemingly able to always be there in the finale; a good trait to have.

-Alex Kirsch signs with CULT Energy

A good move by the Luxembourg rider, I think. Kirsch has been riding with the Leopard-Trek Development for the last three years and even got a stagiaire role with Trek Factory Racing this year, where he rode the Tour of Utah. Kirsch originally started as a stage race rider but he has molded himself into a strong classics style rider that has a kick at the end to mix it up in the sprints.

-Gebrüder Weiss is ge-stopped.

Austria team is setting to stop after Gebrüder Weiss is pulling out and so-so results. Currently, the team has U23s in Michael Gogl and Maximillian Kuen.

-Stölting take final Bundesliga round; Buchmann wins overall

In the final round of the German Bundesliga (think USA NRC or Australian NRS), team Stölting ran amuck. On a doubleheader weekend, the Gelschenkirchen-based squad won the first race in an impressive 1-2-3 display with Phil Bauhaus, Jan Dieteren and Max Werda. Not to be outdone, Nils Politt (also Stölting) won the next day time trial.

Emanuel Buchmann (Rad-Net Rose) won the final overall standings ahead of Christopher Hatz (MLP Bergstraße). Buchmann deserves a hats off after the strong season he has had and he should keep it going in Ponferrada with Politt, Dieteren and their friends Silvio Herklotz and Ruben Zepuntke.

-Iliac artery surgery in the news again

It was announced the other day that SKY's Joe Dombrowski would be transferring to the "new" Cannnodale team run by Jonathan Vaughters after a rough 2 years with the British team. In an article with Cyclingnews, it was announced that Dombrowski had iliac artery surgery after suffering from numbness in his left leg for over a year before finally being diagnosed after the Tour de Suisse.

While my thoughts are anecdotal, it seems that iliac artery injuries are becoming more common. Just for example, Frederik Ludvigsson is facing an off-season surgery for his iliac artery after experience numbness and reduced power output, both of which are common signs of the injury. Any time I see someone tweet about numbness in their leg or reduced power, the iliac artery is my first thought. It is a scary thing because the surgery itself isn't a harmless procedure (South African Ryan Cox died from complications of the surgery). I'd love to due some more research on this because it seems to be a growing problem with rider's development.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Miguel Angel Lopez signs with Astana

So many of you have probably seen by now that Tour de l'Avenir winner Miguel Angel Lopez has agreed to a deal with Astana. The Colombian, who in his first European race, lit everyone up in the mountains to claim the overall crown and many teams were after him at that point.

Lopez (right) getting ready to fuck up Brayan Ramirez (photo: El Colombiano)
Claudio Corti and Team Colombia were trying to get him using the home team pull and what I'm sure would be a huge contract of maybe 20,000 bucks. Team SKY was thrown into the mix there but that would be just...no. With that, Astana came calling and through his agent Rafael Acevedo, a deal was done quickly to bring Lopez in for 2015 and 2016 to, and I quote a certain Mr. Alexander Vinokourov, "grow with (Astana)...and be an effective rider in the mountains and at first help Fabio Aru."

I have a bad feeling about this. My feelings are 100% right about 20% of the time but with this one...this one seems bad. Just a few things to note about this transfer...

-The whole transfer went through Lopez' agent Acevedo so the star of the future had no contact with the team during and since the contract. I'm sure Astana hierarchy might call him to the team's lair in Astana but never meeting a team that has a grand total of 1 Spanish-speaking rider in Mikel Landa and no Spanish-speaking staff, that I'm aware of. He will basically be flying solo into his neo-pro season without much of a support system around him so it is going to be a sink or swim scenario. I know Astana and Vino said he can grow with them but you know...they are a bit authoritarian.

-Lopez has had a history with crashes and injuries. He is nicknamed "El Superman" after he was knocked off his bike by robbers but even after being stabbed by them, he fought them off. While that was a bit out of left field, he also had a few more crashes and injuries that has limited his racing in the last few years.

-Lopez hasn't had a lot of racing time the last few years. Just this year, he had less than 30 racing days including the Tour de l'Avenir. The lack of racing might be okay at the U23 level but unless you are training at a ridiculously high level, he will have to have an adjustment period to World Tour level racing and the length of the season.

Speaking of which, Lopez rode his first race since l'Avenir in his home state of Boyaca in Colombia this past week, the Vuelta a Boyaca. He didn't miss a beat by finishing 3rd overall (best U23 by nearly 4 minutes) and in the top 10 on every stage (3rd, 2nd, 4th, 7th and 5th places).

I am just going to be very curious how this plays out with the larger training load, longer races, a more nervous peloton with double the amount of riders he is used to. All of these concerns might just be blips in the rearview mirror if he adjusts well but people need to be realistic before shoveling expectations onto him before he even takes his first pedal stroke in the Kazakh sky blue.

Friday, September 12, 2014

ES Roundup: Transfers, New Teams and more!

In the lead up to the World Championships, the yearly transfer shuffle has been in full swing with riders departing, new teams popping up and some lovely doping reports. Let's crack on...

Asbjorn Kragh fired by Christina Watches

Asbjorn Kragh, who has been one of the only bright spots on the toxic Christina Watches team, announced that he was fired by the team effective immediately and that he would be riding under the support of the Danish Cycling Federation for the remainder of the year. Kragh's last race with the team was at the Volta a Portugal, which the team demanded that he ride. He lasted 6 stages (plus the prologue) before dropping out but he did produce two top 10 finishes for the team.

He rode the Tour de l'Avenir with the Danish National Team but without much of a reason, he was dropped from Christina Watches. This isn't a new thing with CWO because of their buffoon manager Claus Hembo having major issues managing and not letting his director Bo Hambuger direct without interference. They hire ex-dopers like Schumacher, deal with lazy uber-talents like Alexander Kamp and under race young riders. It is a complete shit show so it is a bit of a blessing in disguise for Kragh to get out of there.

Kragh, who has 19 top 10 finishes this year, will not be hurting for a new contract next year.

Lukasz Wisniowski moves from Etixx to Etixx

Pole Lukasz Wisniowski got the call up from the development team Etixx to the World Tour team Etixx for 2015. Well, Etixx-OPQS but I couldn't help to indulge in the wordplay. Wisniowski has been one of the more consistent riders for the Etixx team over the last couple of years and he will be joining his Polish compatriots Michal Kwaitkowski and Michal Golas.

Wisniowski had a torrid spring where he won the Kattekoers, a stage in the Tour de Normandie and the Circuit des Ardennes within the span of a month. He cooled off a bit as his schedule was a bit lighter over the summer due to his non-U23 status (aged out last year) but he still did well in one day races including a 2nd place in the Top Competitie finale in Templeuve.

Wisniowski should fit in with the classics approach at Etixx-OPQS and with a strong all-around riding style, should be able to adapt in multiple races.

Other transfer news includes...

-Rabobank Development is doing a huge personnel flip with many of their most seasoned riders departing for the pro ranks or other teams. Mike Teunissen and Bert-Jan Lindeman will be going to Lotto-BrandLoyalty (ex-Belkin) while Andre Looij and Ivar Slik will be going to Roompot. Ricardo van Dongen will be moving to SEG Racing while Timo Roosen, Etienne van Empel and Floris Gerts have been confirmed as moving to other pastures.

While Maarten van Trijp will be staying on, there is a huge influx of young riders. Mitchell Cornelisse, Sjoerd Bax, Joris Nieuwenhuis, Siebren Wouters, Peter Lenderink, Antwan Tolhoek, Jan Maas and Hartthijs De Vries have been confirmed moving to Arthur van Dongen's "ploeg" for 2015. All of them except Tolhoek are juniors...7 of them. I mean, they have some pretty good talent but nearly half of the team will be first years. We shall see how they hold up.

-Norwegian junior Kristoffer Halvorsen has signed with Team Joker.

-Team Bissell is undergoing a bit of an overhaul for 2015. Team manager Axel Merckx is going to be securing a new title sponsor for the team and to try and "create a long-term sustainable brand" to create more of a legacy with alumni and drive merchandise/marketing opportunities.

DS Omer Kem is departing the team for a GM role at Smartstop but for the most part, the core of the team stays the same. Tanner Putt and Ryan Eastman age out while Ruben Zepuntke is looking at World Tour/Pro Conti offers. Those confirmed as staying are James Oram, Geoffrey Curran, Dan Eaton, Chris Putt, Greg Daniel, Keegan Swirbul and Tao Geoghegan Hart. Riders confirmed for next year are Justin Oien, who rode for the U23 National Team this year, and junior Will Barta.

Other riders not confirmed on this year's roster are Clement Chevrier, who will most likely be moving to Trek, Nicolai Brochner, Alex Darville, Logan Owen and Nathan Van Hooydonck. I know Darville has been focusing on the track so he might be deviating from the road route and Owen has cyclocross but not sure of the others.

The team also mentioned having a bigger focus on European racing, which might be the best call because even when guys had American schedules, a lot of them would take a timeout to ride with the national teams. That cuts out the middleman for many races and will offer more opportunities abroad.

Also, the article I linked was by Pat Malach,If you could, please read everything that guy writes. He is one of the best reporters on the USA scene and does quality work. Or you can follow him on twitter @ORCyclingAction. Do it.

-Tour de l'Avenir winner Miguel Angel Lopez is signing with Astana. I just...don't think this is a good idea. I know I'm being an armchair pundit here but I have a whole post about this brewing and it just has too much potential to backfire.

New Italian Continental Team for 2015: Velo Club Abruzzo

A new Italian project is getting off the ground for 2015 and is making some interesting signings. Run by Carmine Santoleri and Gabriele Marchesani, the team will be based in Abruzzo (as the name suggests) and has already made some interesting signings for the new year. They brought on Abruzzo's best talent in Marco D'Urbano, who won 3 races in 2014 and was 3rd in the Italian Elite w/o Contract Championship. The team also signed Daniele Cavasin, currently tied with the most elite wins in Italy with 9, former junior World track champion Jordan Parra and Francesco Pedante.

Anything else? Well it will need to wait until a bit later.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why USA riders need to go to Europe for Development

There was an article posted on Bicycling Magazine's website today by Frankie Andreu talking about development riders on the UCI circuit. The point of the article that Andreu was trying to get across was that because of the high level races on the USA circuit now, riders can ride a USA-centric schedule and make it up to the World Tour level. One of the money quotes is "The road to the World Tour doesn't have to go through Europe." I mean, technically he is right because guys like Chad Haga and Matt Busche made it to the World Tour without riding (much) in Europe but for the vast majority of riders, riding a USA-centric calendar would not propel them to the World Tour.

If riders have ambitions for the World Tour, it is still important that they go over to Europe for racing time. It isn't just for the racing time either. If you are an American, living in Europe is a much different experience. Think of the stress moving to a new apartment...now double that by moving to a new continent, perhaps not knowing the language and having to get your water and heat turned out, get groceries, etc. and still being expected to train 25 hours a week and be on top form. It is hard work. Just look at Tejay van Garderen's experience when he moved to Italy with HTC-Columbia, as an example. Moving in winter, he had to take cold showers after training rides and live without heat until some teammates were able to help him get it turned on. While that is extreme, going over to Europe at a young age gets you used to the routine and being able to see if you can handle living in a foreign place.

Mike Sayers, the USA U23 National DS, says it all in just a few tweets.



In terms of the racing, unless we are racing on roads that would be in the Tour of Backwoods West Virginia, racing on big open highways doesn't prepare guys for the narrow roads of Europe that will spit out of without remorse. When Europeans come over to race in America, it is like a vacation for them because of how large our roads are. The climbs in the USA, that are used in a lot of the major races, have highway grades that don't allow them to have big changes in pitch which can be more commonly seen in Europe. The Tour de Georgia had some nice climbs that mimicked this but sadly, that race is no more.

Riders can race well in America. They can get some very good results against strong riders but once they hit the European peloton full-time, it can be a very different story. Example here is Evan Huffman. He rode for Cal Giant and won the TT at the Tour of the Gila in 2012 ahead of Rory Sutherland, Joe Dombrowski, Lawson Craddock and others. He has been with Astana for the past two years and doing some yeoman's work, just scrapping by.

The vast majority of American riders getting results in Europe have come from the development program that took them over there as juniors and u23s. Nearly every rider in Andreu's piece was racing in Europe before their "big American results". Lawson Craddock was racing in Europe since he was about 16 and got immense development there before. Dombrowski? He proved himself as a future GT racer by his GiroBio win

The article continues to list riders like Will Routley and Jure Kocjan, both of whom race domestically but have been on World Tour and Pro Conti teams in Europe. Also including Freddy Rodriguez as an example of a continental rider breaking the stranglehold of the World Tour riders at Nationals.

My whole point being is that American races alone will not a great racer make. You might be good, even great, on big wide open highways but once the racing gets tighter and the packs get a little meaner, will you be able to handle the heat? How many American races will prepare you for World Tour races going down single lane mountains roads at 80 kph?

This is more of a ramble than anything but Andreu over-simplifies everything by sticking to the American-centric line that Bicycling pushes. Yeah Phil Gaimon got onto Garmin by pushing his way through the continental ranks but now? He barely races in Europe. And when he has? Mash your pedals as hard as you can and hold fucking on. You don't have to go through Europe to be a strong professional rider but if you dream of going World Tour, it is highly suggested because at least right now, sticking to an American diet of racing won't get you all the way there.

Monday, September 8, 2014

World Championship Provisional Startlist

Time is ticking to the Ponferrada World Championships and start lists have been trickling out for the U23 men and will be continuing for the next week or so. Here is what I have as of right now...

Africa

South Africa

RR: Louis Meintjes, Willie Smit, Kevin Patten, Jayde Julius

Rwanda

RR: Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, Valens Ndayisenga and Jean Bosco Nsengiyumva

Oceania

Australia

RR: Rob Power, Caleb Ewan, Alexander Clements, Campbell Flakemore, Jack Haig and Sam Spokes

TT: Campbell Flakemore

New Zealand

RR and TT: Dion Smith and James Oram

Asia


Americas

USA

RR: Tyler Williams, Tanner Putt, Robin Carpenter, Alexey Vermeulen and Logan Owen

TT: Robin Carpenter and TJ Eisenhart

Colombia

RR: Miguel Angel Lopez, Brayan Ramirez, Fernando Gaviria, Rodrigo Contreras, Juan Molano, Carlos Ramirez

Venezuela

RR: Carlos Gimenez, Xavier Quevedo, Roniel Campos, Andres Soto

Europe

Austria

RR: Michael Gogl, Gregor Mühlberger, Lukas Pöstlberger, Sebastian Schönberger and Felix Großschartner

TT: Gregor Mühlberger, Lukas Pöstlberger

France

RR: Thomas Boudat, Loic Chetout, Jeremy Leveau, Kevin Ledanois, Quentin Jauregui and Pierre Roger Latour

TT: Bruno Armirail and Remi Cavagna

Belgium

RR: Loïc Vliegen, Dylan Teuns, Tiesj Benoot, Floris De Tier, Jasper De Buyst

TT: Frederik Frison, Ruben Pols

GB

RR (long list): Owain Doull, Scott Davies, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Hugh Carthy, Dan McLay, Tom Moses, Dan Pearson and Alex Peters

TT: Scott Davies and Jon Dibben

Germany

RR: Silvio Herklotz, Ruben Zepuntke, Emanuel Buchmann, Mario Vogt, Jan Dieteren

TT: Nils Politt and Max Schachmann

Netherlands

RR: Mathieu van der Poel, Sam Oomen, Mike Teunissen, Timo Roosen, Lennard Hofstede

TT: Steven Lammertink

Ireland

RR: Ryan Mullen, Conor Dunne, Jack Wilson

TT: Ryan Mullen

Denmark

RR: Magnus Cort, Michael Carbel, Mads Pedersen, Soren Kragh, Asbjorn Kragh

Italy

RR (long list): Simone Andreetta, Seid Lizde, Gianni Moscon, Alessandro Tonelli, Federico Zurlo, Davide Martinelli, Iuri Filosi, Luca Chirico

Spain

RR (long list): Mikel Iturria, Mikel Aristi, Marc Soler, Imanol Estevez, Mario Gonzalez, Miguel Angel Benito

TT: Juan Camacho

Portugal

RR & TT (long list): Carlos Ribiero, Gaspar Goncalves, Joaquim Silva, Luis Gomes, Nuno Bico, Rafael Reis, Ricardo Ferreira, Ruben Guerreiro

Norway

RR: Sven Erik Bystrom, Odd Eiking, Sindre Lunke, Sondre Holst Enger, Kristoffer Skjerping, Markus Hoelgaard

TT: Andreas Vangstad

Switzerland

RR: Stefan Küng, Tom Bohli, Thery Schir, Fabian Leinhard, Lukas Spengler and Simon Pellaud

TT: Küng, Bohli, Schir

Slovenia

RR: Luka Pibernik, Domen Novak, Luka Kovacic, Rok Korasek and Gasper Katrasnik

TT: Martin Otonicar and David Per

Luxembourg

RR: Alex Kirsch (unofficial)

More to follow...