Friday, December 20, 2013

U23 ABCs: R


If there was a list of the worst doping excuses of the last 20 years, I'm sure Raimondas Rumsas would be right up there. On the day of his 3rd place finish at the 2002 Tour de France, Rumsas' wife was caught with a metric ton of dope by the gendarmes. She said all the drugs were for Raimondas' mother and the police believed her so much that they kept her in prison for a few months while the case worked its way through the system. After he tested positive at the '03 Giro, Rumsas then went on to blame Lampre and accused them of intentionally doping him without his knowledge. While Rumsas went on to make good money riding Gran Fondo events in Italy, his son Raimondas Rumsas got into a bit of racing. Raimondas the Junior is more Italian than Lithuanian, as he grew up mainly in Lucca, and took after his father on the bike. He is a pretty good climber and decent TTer but he is on a very small club team and barely got any results in 2013; his best result being 32nd in the GP Liberazione. Who knows what will happen with Raimondas Jr. but he is definitely in one big shadow right now.

After a impressive spring, Lotto-Belisol was beckoning after the Dutchman Elmar Reinders of Metec Cycling to get some testing done on him and try to sign him to a neo-pro contract. Reinders had lit it up in the spring with some impressive rides such as winner the Dutch Meuss Race, 3rd in the Ster van Zwolle, 6th in the hellacious ice storm that was the 1.1 Ronde van Drenthe along with a 4th overall in the Olympia's Tour, thanks to some strong riding on the rainy queen stage. In July, it seemed like Lotto had him all wrapped up after the testing, from everything publicly available, went well but later in the summer, it was announced that he would not be making the jump to the World Tour and instead shifting over to Team Jo Piels. Reinders cited a need to race outside of Holland and Jo Piels calendar would take him abroad.

Staying with the Dutch, we have the Roosen brothers, Sjors and Timo. Sjors is the older, 22 this year, and is the stronger climber and time trialist of the pair. This year was the best yet for the Jo Piels rider as he 7th overall in the Boucle de l'Artois, 5th in Arno Wallard, 7th in Carpathian Couriers, 2nd overall in Tour de Berlin thanks to some good TTing behind Lasse Norman Hansen along with a 2nd overall at the National U23 TT behind Dylan van Baarle. Sjors had only one DNF the whole year (which is excusable since it was ~20F on the startline), which is something I like to see in young riders. So while he might be out of the U23 ranks now, he could develop into a pro racer is everything goes according to plan. Timo is two years younger and has better sprint legs than his brother but is not as good of a TTer. This year with De Jonge Renner, Timo won the opening stage of the Tour de Berlin - his brother was in the breakaway with him - and had two podium placings at the Carpathian Couriers Tour and won the Dutch National University RR, taking a 1-2 finish with his brother. While Sjors is staying with Jo Piels for next year, Timo, who is a physiotherapy student, is heading to Rabobank Development for 2014.

Stephan Rabitsch was the Austrian Amateur RR Champion in 2012 and this year, he won a round of the Austrian Tchibo Cup in an impressive solo breakaway and finished 5th in the Ruota d'Or before going 24th in the World U23 RR, just behind the front pack.

For about the last year and a half, it seems like Croat Josip Rumac has been hoarded by Omega Pharma-QuickStep and its development squad, Etixx-iHNed. As a junior last year, he attended the notorious OPQS Talent Camp and his talent was pretty obvious. While Croatia isn't exactly a cycling hug, Rumac had some nice results with the national team and the UCI Cycling Centre including 3rd in the Valkenburg World RR Championship and multiple top 10 finishes in junior stage races. While Rumac didn't initially sign with a big team this year, his twitter was a dead giveaway about who his allegiance was with. He attended the Talent Camp again this year and was announced as a stagiaire with Etixx-iHNed for the rest of the season. While results weren't exactly overflowing this year, he had some strong TT performances (3rd at Nationals and 9th at the Med Games) along with good rides in some UCI races with Etixx. Also, he can wheelie on cobbles, so he has that going for him.

Told you. (Photo: @koenpelgrim1)
Jonas Rickaert is from the track-road mold where seemingly, you never get an offseason and you are racing all of the time. Okay, maybe not literally but Rickaert, who will be riding for Topsport Vlaanderen next year, has been pulling double duty for the last few years. Silver medalist at both the European Junior Track Omnium and World Junior Madison Championship in 2012, Rickaert had some nice results as a junior including a TT win at the Keizer der Juniores and a GC win at the UCI 2.1 Cop of Grudziadz Town President. This year with Ovyta-Eijssen, Rickaert got some action in U23 stage races as well as a steady diet of Belgian amateur events, where he had a handful of top five placings. He has been in action this year with the national track team as a part of the Belgian team pursuit squad.

While it seems like I have been droning on and on about Colombians for days now, Ever Rivera is yet another strong Colombian climber. Rivera was a keen helper for Juan Chamorro's Tour de l'Avenir 2nd place run in 2012 and joined Chamorro with 4-72 Colombia. Ever came out swinging when he came over to Europe this year and his best results was an 8th overall (best youth) at the Vuelta Asturias. He made the winning break at Coupe des Nations Saguenay and took the KOM jersey on his way to 10th overall. His 130 pound frame then went back over to Spain in summer and rode away with Merhawi Kudus and Jordi Simon on the first stage of the Vuelta a Leon and held on for 3rd overall.

I'm sure all of us have come across riders that are so good at a young age that you think the sky is the limit but when they stagnate and don't keep improving, you wonder what the hell is going on? To me, Rafael Reis is one of those riders. As a junior, Portuguese Reis was one of the best in the world...a triple national champion (2x TT, 1x RR), Peace Race stage winner, top 10 places in European and World Championship TT and RR along with high overall placings in the Peace Race and Trofeo Karlsberg. So Reis would win a few U23 events and then go to the pros right? Turns out it is a bit more complicated than that. Through his first two U23 years, his only nice results were a 7th overall in the Volta ao Alentejo, 2nd in the U23 National TT and 6th in the Volta a Portugal prologue. For this year, he signed with Ceramica Flaminia, which on its outset was supposed to be Portuguese-Italian but that team was a bit of a clusterfuck with multiple signings and firings midseason. He did well in some TTs this year with 5th in the Tour de Berlin TT, winning the Portuguese U23 TT and rides at the European and World TT Championships. Reis is migrating back to Iberia with the Banco BIC squad for his final U23 year but he might be able to benefit with new teammate Manuel Cardoso, ex-Radioshack and Caja Rural. Then there is Rasim Reis, Rafael's Turkish brother from another mother, who is a bit of an anomaly. Reis doesn't have many road results but this year, he won the Balkans TT Championship and went 3rd in the Mediterranean Games.

No comments:

Post a Comment