Saturday, November 16, 2013

U23 ABCs: G

One of the sensations of the season came on the opening stage of the Giro Ciclistico della Valle d'Aosta when Marc Garby dropped Louis Vervaeke at the foot of the La Magdeleine climb and soloed through the rain to a 54 second victory over Vervaeke and ahead of Davide Villella, Davide Formolo, Alexander Foliforov and Clement Chevrier by over two minutes. Who was this Garby? Looking at his results, some people might think he hadn't raced since 2010. He continued to impress by being able to hang on to the leader's jersey for two more days before being worked over by Villella and co. on the final mountain stage where he was dropped early but clawed back before the finishing climb, where he was dropped for good, exhausted. Garby went to finish 6th overall in the race and was finally able to show the climbing ability that growing up in Denmark and injuries prevented him from doing in the past.

In a two part interview with Garby on Espoirs Central, he revealed that he had a kink in his iliac artery and after a long, tedious process of dealing with misinformed doctors and insurance, it took the better part of two years before he was training 100% again. Taking a chance and moving to Italy, he was able to join Team General Store and finally get a chance to race in the hills and mountains that suit his body type. He placed well in harder races like GP Palio del Recioto (15th) and Trofeo Piva Banca (19th). He has dreams of making it to the pro ranks but next year, he will be staying in the Italian amateur scene.

Couple of other Italians to mention...Davide Gabburo, who will be going full-time with Ceramica Flaminia in 2014, and Garby's teammate at General Store, Roberto Giacobazzi. Gabburo seems to go pretty well on the hillier courses while Giacobazzi could turn into a pro grimpeur with results like 11th in the 2012 GiroBio, 10th in the Giro del Friuli this year along with top 10 finishes in GP di Poggiana and Giro del Media Brenta.

Many riders from the Balkans or there about usually find there way into the Italian amateur scene and Romanian Eduard Michael Grosu is no different. The Romanian won a stage in his home tour over drug dealer Ivan Stevic and former pro Eric Baumann along with winning the Romanian TT National Championship. Riding for Overall Cycling, he won the GP Sannazzaro over Paolo Simion in a tight sprint.

Stan Godrie is yet another Dutch 'crosser that is doing double duty with the field and the road. As a junior, he was a junior RR National Champion and accumulated a large amount of road results while hitting the podium at cyclocross races. As a first year espoir in CX, he hit the podium in a U23 World Cup and multiple C1 races. This year, he took on a full road year with Rabobank Development and showed off his sprint and all-around skills. He didn't forget CX by any means as he placed 4th in the first U23 World Cup this year in Valkenburg. Another Dutchie to watch is Dylan Groenewegen, who over the last two years has been sprinting to some big results. As a first year U23, he was top 10 in four UCI 1.1 races including a 3rd in the Münsterland Giro behind Marcel Kittel and Michael Van Staeyen. This year, he was 2nd in the Ronde van Vlaanderen U23, had two sprint wins and was 5th overall in the Olympia's Tour, which showed some all-around skills.

Jens Geerinck and Ruben Geerinckx might have similar names but they have different styles on the bike. Riding for EFC-OPQS, Geerinck got himself into a few breakaways that netted him some nice results in the Antwerpse Havenpijl and the Omloop van het Waasland. Riding for Ovyta-Eijssen, Geerinckx is more of a sprinter, who netted podium finishes in the Giro della Friuli and the Thüringen Rundfahrt. Paco Ghistelinck is getting a nice call-up to Etixx-iHNed for 2014 after finishing in the 6th in the ZLM Tour Nations Cup along with two wins and some more top 10's on the Belgian continental circuit.

Romain Guillemois was a talented junior and in his espoirs career, he has molded himself into a rouleur. This year was his breakout campaign with a stage win in the Boucle de la Mayenne, finished 6th overall in the Coupe des Nations Ville de Saguenay, 7th in Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 and had multiple top 10's in single day races and stages alike. After three years on Vendée U and two stagiaire roles with Europcar, Guillemois is headed to Europcar for next year. Alexis Gougeard cemented his stagiaire status this year with impressive breakaway performances and strong time trial rides. His year started with a long solo breakaway at the Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 Nations Cup, where he spent the majority of the day off the front. Gougeard went on to win the opening stage of the Coupe des Nations Saguenay but was knocked off for the overall win by Sondre Holst Enger due to time bonuses. He TTed to 7th in the Meditteranean Games, 5th in the European Championships and 3rd in the French U23 Championships.  He topped his season off by winning the Tour de l'Avenir prologue and holding the yellow jersey for three days. Gougeard, who won nine races in total in 2013, was surprised mid-season by a contract from Ag2r La Mondiale and will be riding in brown shorts for the next two years. 
Apparently all these French 'G's are rouleurs because we have another one in Alexis Guerin. He was 6th in the European U23 TT Championship and 2nd in the Kreizh Breizh Elites TT, where he ended up 4th overall when it was all said and done. Guerin finished the season with a third in the Chrono des Nations Espoirs and signed on the dotted line with Etixx-iHNed. Pierre Gouault finished on the podium 18 times this year, including two overall podiums, and rode to 13th overall at the Tour de l'Avenir after he had to take over the GC helm from Clement Chevrier after a bad day. Romain Guyot won the opening stage of the Ronde de l'Isard in a two-up break against Haritz Orbe (Euskadi) and went on to finish 9th overall. 

If you don't follow the U23 scene with at least half-interest, it is always hard to know which riders to watch unless VeloNews or someone does a top 10 list. Fernando Grijalba is one to watch so mark it down on your lists at home. Grijalba won the junior ranking of the Copa de España in 2009 and this year with the Caja Rural amateur team, he won the Elite/U23 classification, which has been won by Alejandro Valverde in years past. He can race well in the hills along with handling a sprint so it'll be interesting to see his transition with Caja Rural this year. Mario Gonzalez won the Spanish U23 RR Championship this year after a day long breakaway with Benat Txoperena, which more than made up for his "dissapointing" 3rd place in the U23 TT, where he was hoping to win after winning the title in 2011 along with multiple Cantabrian Championhips. This year, he won the Bidasoa Itzulia overall. He 

Oleksandr Golovash is a Ukranian robot that doesn't show up at the World championships. Seriously, Golovash is a horse and has won the last three Ukranian U23 Time Trial Championships and finished on the podium in the last two European U23 TT Championships and yet the last two years, Golovash finished 17th (2012) and 16th (2013) in the last two World U23 TT Championships. We'll see if he is able to hang on and eventually get a pro ride.

Argentinian Lucas Gaday was 12th in Vuelta a la Rioja at just 20. Other Kazakhs might be more talked about but Vladislav Gorbunov put in some impressive rides that were not as talked about. Still a U23, he finished 12th overall in the Volta a Portugal, which was good enough to net him the youth classification and 2nd best non-Iberian behind Marcel Wyss. Unless something big happens, he will be on Astana Continental for a few more years. Frederik Galta (Norway) won the Hadeland GP (1.2) out of a breakaway that included SaxoBank signing Jesper Hansen and Frederik Ludvigsson. Awit Gebremedhin is another Eritrean up and comer that was 2nd in the Fenkel Northern Red Sea Tour and 6th in the Tour of Eritrea. He still has another U23 year next year and could see a bigger racing calendar outside of his home country soon enough. Colombian Javier Gomez Pineda is a bit of a high-altitude specialist, which might sound cliché seeing as nearly every rider from his country is pigeonholed into that category. At just 18 in 2010, he won the Vuelta a Colombia U23 ahead of the likes of Heiner Parra, Carlos Betancur and Juan Chamorro. Last year, he was apart of the Colombian contingent at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, where he finished 19th overall and 3rd in the youth classification. This year, he finished 2nd in the Clasica de Funza behind SKY signing Sebastian Henao and won a stage in the recent Vuelta a Bolivia, the highest altitude UCI stage race, and finished 6th overall.

When I was a junior, I felt like it was sometimes a curse to be born in late in December like Austrian Felix Großschartner because you could be competing against a guy the same age who is nearly a whole year older than you. Like really, couldn't mom just keep the the baby in the oven for another week? Großschartner won the Burgenland Rundfahrt, the 9th round of the Austrian Tchibo Cup, and had good overall finishes in the Circuit des Ardennes and the U23 Peace Race. He is a rider that seems to do well on courses that are hilly but not overly so. Luke Grivell-Mellor was 4th last year in the Tobago Cycling Classic and raced Tour de Normandie and the Tour of Britain with Rapha Condor. Gleb Gorbachev Gorbachev (Uzbekistan) will most likely never make it to the big time. He might never race a .HC UCI race. But in the name department, he has a gold star...and perhaps a port-wine stain.

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