Saturday, July 4, 2015

Tour de France Youth Classification Preview

While this blog never ventures to much into the pro scene, there is no time like Tour de France time for some click bait, amirite? Like the Yates bros. guys. They are just like so good and they are definitely going places. And that Louis Meintjes kid, he is the bee's knees.

Anyways, the Tour de France starts today and I'm not over the top excited. Yes, it is the biggest race of the year with non-cycling people even getting excited for it. Yet, I'm a bit apathetic about the whole thing. I get pumped for the U23 riders and many of the smaller races yet the Grand Tours? I fancy the breakaway stages but the majority of the GC fight, I tend to tune out unless it is a rider that I might pull for.

In any case, the youth classification at the Tour de France is for U-26 riders and if you look at the start list, the youth classification is stacked with 32 talented riders with many that are going to be results makers this year.

There will only be a few that are fighting for the youth classification overall. The glaring favorites are Nairo Quintana and Thibaut Pinot, who are both going to be fighting for overall podium places. While Quintana is probably the distinct favorite with his 2nd overall in 2013 in the Tour de France and his win in the Giro d'Italia last year, Pinot is coming in hot after finishing in the top 5 overall in four out of his last five stage races and won two big mountain stages in the Tour de Romandie and Suisse.

Past Quintana and Pinot, others that shouldn't be too far away are Romain Bardet, Simon and Adam Yates, Warren Barguil and Wilco Kelderman. These are just the riders that could be going for GC too.

Guys that could steal a mountain stage win? Tim Wellens and Louis Meintjes.

The other very strong all-around riders include Michael Matthews, Michal Kwiatkowski, Tom Dumoulin, Rohan Dennis, Eduardo Sepulveda and Bob Jungels. The includes the current World Champion, a former U23 World champion, a couple of stage 1 top 10 favorites and a former Hour Record holder, among other things.

Did I not mention Peter Sagan is also in the youth classification? Also sprinters Bryan Coquard, Marco Haller, Nacer Bouhanni, Sam Bennett and Arnaud Demare. If they get lucky, that group can pull in 4 stage wins? Well...3 by Sagan.

Not into sprinters or mountain guys? We have head-smashers like Luke Durbridge, Michael Valgren, Georg Preidler and Dylan van Baarle. They will go to the front and make you wish for a big peloton crash so the pace would halt.

Who hasn't been mentioned...Angelo Tulik? Definitely in a breakaway and could be in the hunt for a breakaway win. The Cofidis trio of Kenneth Vanbilsen, Christophe Laporte and Florian Senechal. Lots of talent but probably going to be a long race for them. Luke Rowe will be bottle duty for Froome. Emanuel Buchmann, the Emu from Bora-Argon 18, was on fine form in the German National Championships and I predict a 37th overall finish.

The last rider of this...thing is Merhawi Kudus of MTN-Qhubeka. The young Eritrean is a talented climber that will one day be at the front of the race. I will be surprised if he finishes the race in the top 100 overall. He finished the Vuelta last year but he still has a few years before he will contend.

My predictions? Quintana will win the white jersey...and the overall. Pinot will finish 4th overall and 2nd in the classification. Bardet will be 7th overall and 3rd in the youth.

The young rider will win 8 stages including 3 by Sagan, 1 by Matthews, 1 by Quintana, 1 by Pinot, 1 by Kwiatkowski and 1 by Dumoulin.

Out of the 32 young riders, 27 will finish.

This concludes my Tour de France writing for 2015. Bonne Chance!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's happening again...Transfer season!

We are barely halfway through the season and it is time for one of my favorite times of the season, the transfer season. Where riders & teams burn bridges, teams launch & fold and riders get their big break & become dust in the wind.

The two big announcements were the singings of Odd Eiking and Gianni Moscon.

The Norwegian Eiking, who burst out last year in the Giro della Valle d'Aosta, was on the radar of FDJ earlier this off season when he went to a three day training camp held by the team that included testing. Fred Grappe, who is the team's performance director, has been high on Eiking as he noted his high lactate threshold as a strong key to developing as a puncheur rider.

FDJ followed through with their talent-crush and signed the Norwegian to a two year neo-pro deal through the end of 2017. Eiking, who rides for Team Joker, has blossomed as a very consistent rider this season including his win in the Norwegian U23 RR and 2nd in the Elite Men's race. Watch for him when he comes back to the Giro della Valle d'Aosta. He will be Norway's 8th current pro rider on the World Tour circuit, which is pretty damn good considering the size of the nation.

On the other end of the continent, Zalf-Euromobil's Gianni Moscon inked a long speculated deal with Team Sky for two seasons. The newly crowned Italian U23 champion will go to the team's training camp in Sestriere on July 10th-21st with non-Tour de France riders and according to one article, "two other young men, an Englishman and an American." He will stagiaire with the team this year and according to him in his interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, he will start with Milano-Torino and a few other races this year. Moscon, who is leading Italian amateurs with 7 wins this season, proved himself a versatile rider with a 2nd place in the Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 along with wins in Palio del Recioto and San Vendemiano. Other Moscon facts include that he plays the accordion, he has a diploma as a land surveyor and is pursuing a degree in Engineering Management.

Moscon is also advised by Maurizio Fondriest, who he has known since he was young. Of course Fondriest was coached by Francesco Conconi and had his own issues with doping through his career. Fondriest might be a nice guy but I wouldn't keep him as an advisor when you are going into a career where that association can have you skewered.

Watch for Moscon at the Tour de l'Avenir and U23 Worlds in Richmond.

-----------------------

While these guys inked their first contracts, a lot of stagiaires were announced by mainly French teams. For those that are new to this, stagiaires, or trainees, are basically riders that get a chance on a pro team and get some race days with the big boys. Many times this leads to a contract with said team but it isn't guaranteed. The stagiaire period starts on August 1st.

FDJ

Madiot's squad has announced three stagiaires in Elie Gesbert, Marc Fournier and Fabien Doubey.

Gesbert runs on the lowly DN3 level with his Pays de Dinan team but has been under scholarship with the FDJ foundation. Gesbert fractured a collarbone this year but has been running fairly well. Gesbert was an double French junior champion in 2013 in the RR and TT and was probably the best French junior in his class.

Fournier (CC Nogent sur Oise) has had a damn good year with two wins in the French DN1 competition as well as one UCI win with a stage win in the Triptyque Monts et Chateaux. A bit inconsistent but a strong rouleur.

Doubey is the current French U23 cyclocross champion and won a stage in the Tour Nivernais Morvan.

Europcar

The Vendée based team took three stagiaires with Romain Guyot, Taruia Krainer and Simon Sellier.

Romain Guyot is a homegrown Vendée U product that has three wins this year along with good rides in the Triptyque Monts et Chateaux (7th) and Fleche du Sud (12th).

For his 2nd year in a row, Tahiti's Taruia Krainer is with Europcar as a stagiaire. Krainer won Paris-Tours Espoirs 3 years ago and hasn't done much since.

Simon Sellier is someone that I cannot say I've heard much from. He was 12th in Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 this year so seems like he could be good. Maybe.

Bretagne Seche Environment

The western France squad take their prize baby Franck Bonnamour, Valentin Madouas and Brazilian Caio Godoy.

Bretagne loves Franck Bonnamour. He is their star pupil as this is his 2nd year as a stagiaire with them in his first two U23 seasons. He will be on Bretagne Seche Environment, or another iteration, when he goes pro. He has won three races this year including one DN1 race and was 5th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen U23.

Madouas is just a first year U23 with BIC 2000 and was a standout junior last year but is still trying to find his feet in the U23 ranks.

Godoy is an interesting pick as he is a Brazilian but he trains at the UCI World Cycling Centre. Godoy, nicknamed the Cannibal in Brazil, has had some decent results in the hillier bits of France including a win on the national level.

Roubaix Lille Metropole

The northern France squad sign up Felix Pouilly and Leo Vincent.

Pouilly (CC Nogent sur Oise) suffered from an iliac artery problem in 2014 but has come back strong in 2015. He was the French junior champion in 2012 and this year, he finished 4th in the Paris-Roubaix U23.

Leo Vincent (CC Etupes) is the king of the final stage after wins on the last stages of the Ronde de l'Isard and the Tour des Pays de Savoie. Strong climber and I doubt he will stay here but Roubaix Lille Metrpole rides a diverse schedule so it should be good.

Team Marseille 13

The southern France squad go with Estonian Martin Laas and Yoan Verardo.

Laas runs for Team Immo Pro Roux and has won the Tour of Estonia. He likes those flat races.

Verardo rides for the French Basque team GSC Blagnac and has had a breakout year with three wins so far as well as 4th in the La Cote Picarde Nations Cup.

Outside of France...

BMC

While Loïc Vliegen is joining the team on a pro contract starting today, BMC Development riders Tom Bohli and Floris Gerts will be stagiaires starting on August 1st.

Bohli has 13 top 10 finishes in UCI races and while he isn't a sprinter, seems to have a nose for the line in a bunch sprint. With a bit more grooming, he will be a beast.

Gerts is another rider that is all over the top 10 and has a good solo move that has netted him two wins this year. He is getting closer in hillier races and is a good shot for a Tour de l'Avenir stage win later this year.

Orica-GreenEdge

It was announced in about January or so but Jack Haig is joining the team as a stagiaire in 2015.

Haig has been quiet this year after a pretty brutal crash in the Tour de Bretagne that has kept him out for nearly 2 months. He even made a five hour drive to France from the AIS base in Italy to start the Rhone-Alpes Isere Tour so the team had enough riders but did a whole whopping 500 meters before pulling out and driving back to Italy. Read this Cycling Tips blog by Jack on his road to recovery.

Katusha

The Russian team is making an...interesting move by signing Pan-Am U23 Champion Jhonathan Restrepo.

Restrepo hails from Medellin and left his family home at a young age to pursue cycling. He eventually ended up staying in the family home of staunch anti-doper Juan Pablo Villegas (Smartstop). Restrepo, who rides for Coldeportes-Claro, won the final stage of the Vuelta de la Juventud Colombia and finished a strong 3rd overall behind the likes of Ecuadorian Richie Carapaz and Aldemar Reyes. Restrepo went on to win the Pan-Am U23 RR in a small group sprint.

While his debut in Europe was horrible with a DNF in the U23 Peace Race, Restrepo will make his debut with Katusha in the Vuelta a Burgos.

Monday, June 29, 2015

U23 Nationals, Part 2

Following a 10-hour drive, I'm tired. Let's go through the National Championships from the weekend. Depending on the country, we will go through the Elite race where U23s performed well as well as the U23 race, if applicable. For part 1 of this, go here. Alphabetical order, by country...

Albania

While Redi Halilaj won the race, U23 Iltjan Nika (d'Amico-Bottecchia) was 2nd in the race for the 2nd year running but was able to snag the U23 jersey.

Austria

Gregor Mühlberger (Felbermayr-Simplon) finished 5th in both the Elite TT and the Elite RR to cap off the first half of his electric season. Mühlberger was apart of the death march and ended up finishing 3 minutes off winner Marco Haller.

Azerbaijan

Belarus

The initial report coming out after the race by the winner, Andrei Krasilnikau, is insane.
So Kuschynski was mad that he got 2nd and as the DS, he decided to take the new Belorussian champion's bike? Pretty messed up but the details still need confirmation.

Oh and the U23 race was won by Dzmitry Zhyhunou.

Canada

Ben Perry (Silber) won the Canadian U23 contest after finishing 5th in the Elite Race in a tight sprint against Adam De Vos (H&R Block) and Alex Cataford (Silber).

Czech Republic

The Czechs and Slovaks hold a joint national championship to make it feel like the old days. While Petr Vakoc won the elite race, Frantisek Sisr (Dukla Praha) won the sprint for 3rd that took him the U23 title ahead of Josef Cerny (CCC Polsat) and Daniel Turek (Cycling Academy).

Denmark

While the Danish U23 championships happened a couple weeks ago, the U23s lined up for the Elite Championships. Mads Würtz (ColoQuick) finished 3rd in the Elite TT, which was better than Jakob Fuglsang, Michael Valgren and Lasse Norman Hansen. He is the current U23 men's champion in the discipline but has still been struggling with a good handful of DNFs. Hopefully he gets more consistent but he has time as he has another U23 season yet.

In the Elite RR, the race exploded and a group of 12 was off the front including U23s Emil Vinjebo (Trefor), Würtz & Alexander Kamp (ColoQuick) and Michael Carbel (CULT Energy). While the race went away between Chris Anker Sørensen and Martin Mortensen, Kamp won the sprint for 3rd place while Carbel was in the same group in 5th.

Estonia

The nearly pan-flat Baltic country saw a breakaway of two in Gert Joeäär and Rein Taaramae take the race while Endrik Puntso won the sprint of 3rd to take the U23 title.

Eritrea

While technically, Merhawi Kudus won the U23 TT title after finishing 4th, the next U23 rider was Metkel Eyob in 7th. In the RR, a sprint (I think since results haven't been finalized) decided it with 3rd place Amanuel Gebrezgabihier taking the U23 title.

Finland

Roope Nurmi won the sprint ahead of Aleksi Hanninen and Sasu Halme, the winner of the U23 TT.

Germany

While it is a couple weeks until the German U23 RR, some of the U23s rode in the Elite Men's RR. Lennard Kämna (Stölting) won the U23 TT by just 7 seconds on Friday while on Sunday's RR, Kämna and Nico Denz (Chambery CF) finished in the same group as John Degenkolb and Linus Gerdemann just 13 seconds down on winner Emanuel Buchmann.

Great Britain

In the death march that was the GB Championships in Lincolnshire, Owain Doull (Team Wiggins) finished 7th in the Elite Men's race to take the U23 crown with the next U23, Sam Lowe (Raleigh-GAC) coming in 2 minutes later in 15th.

Ireland

After a surprise showing in the Elite Men's TT, Eddie Dunbar finished 2nd in the Elite Men's RR to take the U23 RR crown by nearly 4 minutes over the next U23 rider, Daniel Stewart. Dunbar is still just a first year rider but he is showing why he was one of the top juniors in the World last year.

Italy

Held separate from the Elite Men's race as Italy is a bit more traditional, Gianni Moscon (Zalf-Euromobil) beat out Davide Gabburo (General Store), Edward Ravasi (Colpack) and Simone Ravanelli (Pala Fenice) in a 4-man sprint to take the victory. Moscon is a certain favorite for stage wins in both the Giro della Valle d'Aosta and the Tour de l'Avenir.

Japan

Michimasa Nakai won the U23 race solo by 4 seconds ahead of Saya Kuroeda and Hayato Okamoto.

Kazakhstan

It was a Vino4Ever sweep in the land of the rising steppe as Oleg Zemlyakov, who has been turning in consistent GC performances all season in Asia and Central Europe, won the Elite Men's race and the U23 crown ahead of teammates and fellow U23s Dmitriy Lukyanov and Stepan Astafyev. Watch for Zemlyakov in Valle d'Aosta and the Tour de l'Avenir, where he was 16th overall last year.

Latvia

Krista Neilands took the win in a small Latvian u23 Championships by over 7 minutes.

Luxembourg

The U23 ranks are in trouble in the Duchy as Tom Wirtgen won the U23 crown but finished nearly 10 minutes back of Elite Champion Bob Jungels. They just don't have much to work with and will need to bank on a super junior to come out of the ranks soon.

Mexico

Ignacio Prado took the double championship in Mexico by winning the sprint in the RR after winning the TT by over a minute.

Netherlands

"Part-time" road rider Stan Godrie took the sprint ahead of two riders from SEG Racing, Fabio Jakobsen and Davy Gunst, out of a group of 16 riders. Godrie is also the current Netherlands U23 cyclocross champion.

Romania

In a race with just 8 starters and 5 finishers, the Romanian U23 RR was a small affair. Vlad-Nicolae Dobre won the race while only two others finished within 5 minutes of him while the final two were around a half hour down on Dobre. They did race with the Elite Men but even with that, the field didn't number 20 riders.

Russia


It was a strong week for RusVelo as they took both U23 crowns in the motherland. Alexander Evtushenko won the U23 TT crown while Artem Nych, who finished 2nd in the Trofeo PIVA earlier this year, won the U23 RR out of a group of three riders including Nikolay Cherkasov (Tyumen region in Siberia), who seems to be coming back to his form that saw him as one of the best juniors in 2013, and Aydar Zakarin (Tatarstan), brother of Ilnur Zakarin. Nych jumped from the front group with 30 kilometers to go while Cherkasov & Zakarin joined him. Nych won the sprint out of the three while his teammate Mamyr Stash, won the sprint for 4th.

Rwanda

For the 2nd year running, U23 Valens Ndayisenga won the Rwandan TT Championship by over 1'40". In the RR, a group of 10 decided the race with a small group sprint decided the race. While Joseph Biziyaremye won the race, it was first year U23 Joseph Aleluya finished 2nd in the race and the best U23.

Serbia

Milos Borisavljevic (Roth-Skoda) won the Serbian U23 TT and nearly beat out some old rider that needs to fuck off in Ivan Stevic in the Elite Men's RR. 

Slovakia

On the other half of the Czechoslovak race, Peter Sagan ruled the Elite race while U23 Erik Baska (AWT-Greenway) rolled in 4th as the best U23 rider, just 1'24" behind Sagan.

Slovenia

Down on the Adriatic coast, it was Lampre's Luka Pibernik took the Elite Men's event but nearly 6 minutes down, David Per finished as the best U23 in 6th and the best U23.

Spain
Jaime Roson (Caja Rural) won after a strong late move to take the Spanish U23 crown ahead of Xavier Pastalle and Oscar Pelegri.

Sweden

Another nation with a combined race that saw the best U23 finish multiple minutes down. Ludwig Bengtsson finished 4 minutes down on winner Alexander Gingsjo to win the U23 crown.

USA

While I covered the RR in part 1, the USA TT took place on Friday. With favorite Ben Wolfe out of contention with a flat tire, the torch was passed to Axeon with Utah native Dan Eaton taking a commanding victory 42 seconds ahead of Alexey Vermeulen (BMC) and last year's runner-up Greg Daniel about 1 minute back. A surprising 4th was first year U23 Philip O'Donnell, who hadn't been at altitude before the championships and was racing on a borrowed bike. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

U23 Nationals, Part 1

I'm still on vacation but there is time to roundup some of the goings on with U23 National Championships going on across the globe.

USA RR

Keegan Swirbul had a rough year up with some injuries until the Tour de Beauce, where he finished 6th on Mont Megantic. Swirbul, the skier turned cyclist from Colorado, came into the U23 RR in North Lake Tahoe with good hopes. The race, which was difficult because of the climbing and altitude, was also given a heaping spoonful of wind to make the situation better. Greg Daniel got off the front early and had a nice gap but was eventually joined by teammate Logan Owen.

The duo was brought back by a shredded peloton that had around 20 or so riders in it with riders over a half hour off the back. Chris Putt put in a late move for glory but was joined by Espoirs Central pick for the win Alexey Vermeulen and Greg Daniel. The move was brought back with 5 km to go with an even smaller group. With a 1k to go, Daniel launched another move that was basically a lead out for Swirbul as the lanky climber launched on the climb up to the Northstar resort.
In a tight sprint for 2nd at 6 seconds back, it was Daniel over Cal Giant's Colin Joyce while Vermeulen came across in 4th and Justin Mauch (Airgas-Safeway) in 5th.

UK TT

Scott Davies got his 2nd straight GB U23 TT after beating out Owain Doull and Tao Geoghegan Hart at Caldwell Park. He won by 6 and 17 seconds respectively on the fast course in Lincolnshire.

Irish TT

Ryan Mullen won the Elite Men's TT on the Omagh course with a blitzing ride of 47'46" ahead of fellow U23 Eddie Dunbar and Martyn Irvine. Mullen also captured the U23 title, which he did last year but he wasn't allowed to take the Elite Men title as well, which changed this year. While Mullen is a huge talent, the surprising ride of the day was by Dunbar, who was just 25 seconds off Mullen's time. Dunbar is riding for the NFTO team and isn't a TT specialist by any means so don't be stupid...remember that name.

Netherlands TT

Speaking of repeats, Steven Lammertink (SEG Racing) beat the crap out of everyone in the Dutch TT by winning by 1'13" over Martijn Tusveld.

Switzerland TT

It was a two-horse race between two BMC Development teammates, Tom Bohli and Thery Schir. Bohli has been the better of the two through the season with some incredibly consistent riding while Schir, who comes from a more track background, has been riding probably his best road season. On a short course, it was nearly identical between Schir and Bohli. Schir, who won in 2014 ahead of Bohli, would do so again but this time had them finish on near identical times within one second of one another.

Japan TT

Third in the Asian U23 TT, Yuma Koishi (CCT p/b Champion System) beat out first year U23 Masaki Yamamoto by 5 seconds for the Japanese crown.

Poland

Szymon Rekita took his 2nd Polish U23 crown in a row ahead of Patryk Stosz.

Finland

Sasu Halme takes the crown

-Belgian U23 TT was already decided in early May when Ruben Pols won ahead of Nathan Van Hooydonck.

-Mads Würtz won the Danish U23 TT in early May

More to follow...

Monday, June 22, 2015

Weekend Roundup: Muhlberger and Savoie

A week of vacation is calling next week so I'm making this an abridged version.

Gregor Mühlberger

...is pretty amazing. In the last month, he won 5 races including the overall of two stage races in the Zavod Miru U23 and now, the Oberösterreichrundfahrt. After going 2nd in the opening 4 kilometer uphill road stage, Mühlberger dropped bombs on Sunday on the stage to Steyr and went on a huge solo run to win the final stage by 1'48" on 2nd place Victor de la Parte. A long, crazy solo breakaway seems to be Mühlberger's specialty.

Just don't go to Sky, Gregor, please.

Tour des Pays de Savoie

My heart just wasn't in this race this year simply because of the lack of a strong U23 field. Yes, there was some good U23s there but when you got older Spanish climbers like David Belda that weighs 53 kilos and climbs like no one's business.

Sam Oomen (Rabobank) was a star and showed that he is a top 10 favorite for Giro della Valle d'Aosta and Tour de l'Avenir. Oomen won stage 2 of the race in a nice breakaway and followed it up with the stage 4 win in the TT to take the yellow jersey into the final stage. It was short lived because the final stage on Sunday saw the miniature Belda take massive time on Oomen. Belda easily took the overall win while Oomen ceded a minute and a half to the Spaniard.

Oomen finished 2nd overall while Jeremy Maison (CC Etupes), who was great in the Ronde de l'Isard, finished 4th overall after a steady race with four straight top 10 stage finishes. Nico Denz (Chambery CF) started the race well but petered out on the final stage to finish up 7th overall. 

Leo Vincent (CC Etupes) did another fantastic final stage performance to take the stage win after taking the final stage in the Ronde de l'Isard. The 19-year old is carving out a slot in the teams for Valle d'Aosta and l'Avenir.

Until next time...

P.S. US U23 Nationals are early this week with the RR on Wednesday, the TT on Friday and the criterium on Sunday. My picks are Alexey Vermeulen for the RR,  Greg Daniel for the TT and Ben Wolfe for the crit.

Friday, June 19, 2015

So Manolo Saiz is starting a U23 team...

to which I say, who really gives a fuck? Not many because where was the sustained outcry when Mr. Saiz joined Spanish amateur outfit Cafes Baque team this year as a consultant? Sustained was the key word there because once people let a few weeks go by, shit goes back to normal. "Oh that Saiz...he needs to get out of cycling," they say before taking a sip of coffee and checking to see who favorited their coffee shop tweet from the other day.

That is the problem. Manolo Saiz facilitated the doping of riders on ONCE and Liberty Seguros. He is one of the people that should never be allowed around a professional cycling team ever again. I do not care how much he says how sorry he is, how he has changed and will lead young riders on the virtuous path. He lost his chance, in my opinion. He should have kept managing his restaurant and kept away from two wheels.

Here is the article from Cyclingnews in question.

Yet he got through part of this season without attracting too much attention. So people might say something here and there next season, if this team even does come about, but that will be the extent of it. Because there are plenty of other riders from the Puerto generation that are still active or in team management now so as long as Saiz apologizes and says that he has turned a new leaf, he will get a free pass. As long as society as a whole is more or less fine with doping or categorizes it as an issue of the past, Saiz will be able to raise the funds to have his own team and the UCI will not stop him.

I hope the team doesn't materialize. Spanish cycling isn't in a good place right now, especially on the development side of things, but brining in some paunchy guy from Cantabria will not help the situation in the least. He is bring with him David Etxebarria and Herminio Diaz Zabala, both of whom rode for ONCE and the former being involved in Operacion Puerto while Zabala was apart of the ONCE Tour team nearly every year. I am struggling to find a positive so far with this team.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Weekend Roundup

Tour de Beauce

After finishing this race, Robin Carpenter said that the Tour de Beauce might be one of the hardest races not many have heard of. That is certainly a true statements, especially for those that do not follow the North American circuit.

Without going into an exhaustive analysis of the race, Caja Rural showed everyone what a European team can race like while Hincapie Racing with Toms Skujins and Dion Smith nearly pulled off a coup. Caja Rural put 3 riders in the top 6 overall with Pello Bilbao, Amets Txu-Txu Train and Eduard Prades but they had to wait until the last 2 laps of the last stage to steal the GC from Skujins, who capped off a brilliant two weeks with 2nd overall here.

On the U23 front, Dion Smith was incredibly consistent with 4 finishes in the top 7 on stages along with 3rd overall and overall wins in the points and youth jersey. Smith is good on so many different terrain types that he can score a good GC place in sprint dominated races as well as races with climbs.

Axeon had a good week with 4 in the top 15 led by James Oram in 7th place. Oram did as well as he could but missed a decisive split on stage 2 that would have saw him higher on GC. Keegan Swirbul was the only rider to make that split but he suffered the following day that sank any GC hopes. Greg Daniel was 6th in the TT and Ruben Guerreiro was consistent for 10th overall.

Ben Perry (Silber) had the U23 ride of the week as he got into the final move on the final stage with Pello Bilbao and Rob Britton (Smartstop). Perry had the best sprint on the day and took his biggest ever result with the stage win. His teammate Alex Cataford was 8th in the TT and continues to do well in his comeback season after his horrific training accident in 2014.

Malopolska

The 3-day Polish race saw all of the best Central European continental teams for the race's 53rd edition. Marko Kump dominated the race as he won the first two stages in sprints and while a breakaway got away on the 3rd stage, we won the sprint for 4th.

Stage 2 was the deciding stage when about half of the race abandoned while the front half of the peloton split off and about 25 riders gained 5 minutes on everyone else. Silvio Herklotz missed the split but his teammate Lennard Kamna represented Stolting in the move and went to finish 4th place on the stage. Martin Grøn (Riwal) got the KOM jersey and some bonus seconds from the sprints to vault him him on the GC.

The final stage was Herklotz's revenge as the German got into a breakaway with Adrian Kurek and Sergey Lagkuti. Herklotz took the maximum sprint points to take the sprint jersey and took the maximum mountain points but finished 2nd in the KOM competition to Grøn. While Kurek broke away for the stage win, it was who else but Marko Kump to take 4th place to wrap up the overall.

Marko Kump is in this weird talent level that straddles the continental level and the World Tour. He has won 10 races this season and probably will get near 20 by the end of the season and yet, who knows if he will get a ride on the World Tour level again.


GP Jugendorf

Gregor Muhlberger once again proved how dangerous he is by another long range breakaway to win the GP Jugendorf with a gap of 1'25" back to the chasing group of 4 that included Andi Bajc, Florian Bissinger, Victor de la Parte and teammate and fellow U23 Felix Grossschartner.

The question is now where Muhlberger is headed to for next season. Bora-Argon 18 is a favorite because of their strong German ties as well as Giant-Alpecin for similar reasons. He can time trial, climb, proven himself as a GC threat and as a good one-day rider.  If you somehow haven't heard of him then I have failed at this but you should watch out for him.

Okolo Slovenska

Besides the interesting elimination race prologue that decided the jerseys before the first stage, the Okolo Slovenska (Tour of Slovakia) was a rather mundane affair with 4 sprint stages punctuated by one hillier stage that separated the GC. The only two U23s to make the break were Lorenzo Rota (UniEuro-Wilier) and Oleg Zemlyakov (Vino4Ever) and they ended up 7th and 6th respectively on the final GC, both 21 seconds back on winner Davide Vigano. You would need to go back to 14th overall with Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea) to find the next U23 finisher.

GP Sarajevo

To Bosnia with the GP Sarajevo, which turned out to be a contest between three riders pretty quickly. In the end, Slovene Gasper Katrasnik, riding for the now-amateur Sava team, got away from his breakaway mates Sergey Belykh (Itera-Katusha) and Stefan Stefanovic (Keith Mobel-Partizan) to take his first UCI win for his young U23 career. U23s dominated the top 10 win 6 riders.

GP Horsens & Fyn Rundt

Two Danish one-day races dotted the calendar with the GP Horsens & Fyn Rundt.

Horsens sits roughly halfway between Copenhagen and Aarhaus. Horsens was the home of the Glud & Marstrand cycling team that was the predecessor to the CULT Energy team and saw riders such as Michael Valgren, Sebastian Lander, Chris Juul Jensen and more.

Anyways, the GP Horsens was a lumpy race with a lot of short, sharp climbs as well as a nice heaping spoonful of Danish crosswind. Similar to the Skive-Løbet, Alexander Kamp, who is experiencing his best season since the junior ranks, got into the winning breakaway that was fairly spread out between teams. Kamp (ColoQuick) was the strongest after the tough day and out-sprinted Rasmus Guldhammer & Asbjorn Kragh for the win. Other U23s in the leading group include Steffan Christiansen (5th), Magnus Bak Klaris (7th/SEG Racing) and Mads Rahbek (Trefor).

The Fyen Rundt was a much flatter affair as it took place on the isle of Fyen and, more specifically, around the city of Odense. The main action came in the finale when last year's Swedish junior TT champion Hampus Anderberg was out front and with 2 kilometers to go, Andreas Vangstad (Sparbanken Sør) came out of the peloton to try and bridge up to him. He didn't make the connecting until inside the final kilometer but the peloton was breathing down their neck. The only problem was that no one in the peloton wanted to launch the sprint so Vangstad went again. Either with Alexander Kamp and Yoeri Havik going for it, Vangstad held them off to take his 2nd win of the season after his solo win in the Tour of Norway. Kamp was the first U23 in 2nd while Anderberg held on for 4th place.

Italy

Minali and Consonni go 1-2 in Monza (Foto: ItaliaCiclismo)

Gianluca Minali takes yet another Zalf-Euromobil win with this in the Trofeo Malmantile
(Foto:ItaliaCiclismo)
Colpack and Zalf-Euromobil continue to win in Italy.