Tour de l'Avenir is right around the corner but the racing didn't hit a lull by any means. While some national teams took a quieter approach in the lead-up to the grandaddy of them all, the Italians and others were out in full force.
Busato wins GP Capodarco
In one of the better organized U27 Italian races of the season, Matteo Busato went on a late solo flier to take an impressive solo win at last Friday's 42nd GP Capodarco. The Trevigiani Dyanmon Bottoli broke away from Mario Sgrinziato (Petroi Firenze) in the final 15 kilometers and the seasoned Venetian rider dropped his companion on the final climb at 4 kilometers to go. Bringing home the chasing group in 3rd was last year's Capodarco champion Gianfranco Zilioli, who will be going to the Pro Continental Androni squad for the rest of the season, starting at the Trittico Lombardo.
Busato has been a perennial favorite in the Italian amateur ranks over the last few years and it is a bit of a mystery as to why he hasn't turned professional given that he has a long list of palmares. He did start a full contract with Italian Team Idea halfway through last year but after the team folded, he returned to the amateur ranks with Trevigiani. Thanks to a late December birthday, this is Busato's last year to ride on the lucrative Italian U27 calendar and he will need to find a professional gig somewhere or head out into another country seeing as his sell-by date for the amateur ranks will be up in Italy (they like them young there).
Zilioli and Zmorka get boosts of confidence
While Gianfranco Zilioli had to settle for 3rd in Capodarco, the Colpack rider was able to get revenge in Saturday's GP Valdaso in a small group sprint of 5 ahead of Alexander Foliforov (Russia) and Alessio Mischianti (Nuova Futura). Bradley Linfield (Australia) led home the chasing group in 7th, just behind teammate Adam Phelan, who was dropped from the leading group in the final sprint. Zilioli has been on a tear of late and the man with the biggest nose in Italian amateur cycling is taking his talents to Androni on a stagiaire role for the rest of the year as he is 23 and not eligible for any U23 shenanigans.
On the opposite end of the boot, Marlen Zmorka took his 2nd win of the year for his Palazzago squad at the Circuito Guazzorese. Ukrainian Zmorka broke away from peloton and bridged up to a leading trio of riders in the finale and used his vaunted TT skills to start his "sprint" from 300 meters to go and was able to take the win. While the win was in a more low-key event, Zmorka is keying towards big goals at the end of the season with Tour de l'Avenir and the U23 World TT championships on his horizons. Zmorka lives in Italy during the season but is also a kinesiology student at the University of Nikolaev, which is the hometown of Ukrainian World Tour riders Andrey Grivko and Vitaly Buts. An interesting fact about Zmorka is that, apparently, his first name is a compound of Marx and Lenin, which is a bit strange coming seeing as he is Ukrainian and born after the wall came down.
Zalf-Euromobil goes ape at Trofeo Citta di Conegliano
Zalf-Euromobil has had quite a successful year with riders such as Andrea Zordan, Federico Zurlo, Paolo Simion and others taking multiple wins. In the week leading up to the Trofeo Citta di Conegliano, Zalf was denied two wins, which is a made worse by the fact that they had numbers going into the finale. Sitting at 39 wins for the season, the Treviso-based green-red-blue squad was brimming with fuel after suffering, as the team management called it, two humiliations in a row.
Zalf went on the cream the race after they were able to put Gianluca Leonardi and Simone Andreetta up the road and their gap was unassailable eventually; to the point where Andrei Nechita was able to breakaway from the peloton. At this point, Zalf had the podium locked in but they were not done. As Leonardi crossed the like for his 4th win of the year ahead of Andreetta and Nechita crossed the line solo in 3rd, Zalf went 1-2-3 in the field sprint with soon-to-depart Andrea Zordan taking 4th ahead of Enrico Salvador and Daniel Casavin. An impressive way to get a 40th win.
Teunissen wins Top Continental in Tour des Fjords
Mike Teunissen put in a consistent performance at the inaugural Tour des Fjords in Norway. Getting past my annoyance of another race using the Tour de(s) title (Thanks ASO), Teunissen had three top 10 performances and an 11th place and finished the race 8th overall. The U23 cyclocross World Champion was sitting pretty in the standings after a sterling 2nd place in the opening stage behind eventual winner Sergey Chernetskiy but thanks to a good but not great team time trial performance, Teunissen slipped behind multiple Belkin and Katusha riders. The young Dutchman now heads to the Tour de l'Avenir where he will be licking his chops at the first few days of flat to rolling terrain.
Other news and notes:
-Watch out for a Tour de l'Avenir preview as the race starts this Friday! Team rosters are trickling out and Pro Cycling Stats is doing their usual job of aggregating them.
-BMC Development's Silvan Dillier went 2nd at GP des Marbriers to Benoit Daeninck in a small uphill sprint. Dillier is coming off a Tour of Norway with the BMC World Tour team and with his performance in Marbriers, he should continue to perform in more WT races. Also in the top 10 were U23 riders including Gerry Druyts (7th), Tiesj Benoot (8th) and Floris De Tier (9th).
-With the Czech National team not being selected for Tour de l'Avenir, Etixx-iHNed's Petr Vakoc took out some pent up anger at the GP Kralovehradeckeho kraje by kicking the shit out of his competition on the hilly circuits. Vakoc dropped breakaway mate Josef Hosek (Bauknecht-Author) late to win by 5 seconds but behind them the gaps were huge, with a half of the mere 20 finishers coming in at nearly 8 minutes down.