In a new, and hopefully recurring segement on Espoirs Central, I'll be giving out a "Ride of the Week" honor for the best U23 performance of the week. This honor will go to a rider who gets a nice win or just sticks it out in the breakaway for 130 kilometers and it is a good way to look back on the week that was. So without further ado, the ride of the week goes to...
Bonaventure Uwizeyimana and his Stage 5 win in Tropicale Amissa Bongo
Uwizeyimana, who was included in the U23 ABC's, rode to an impressive solo win after a long day in the breakaway. Riding for the Rwandan National Team, Uwizeyimana was apart of the main breakaway of 10 that got away early but when the race wound down, he attacked with Moroccan Mouhcine Lahsaini with less than 10 kilometers to go. The duo worked well together and the gap opened up. Coming into the last kilometers, Uwizeyimana attacked Lahsaini and opened up a gap that he would stick until the line; a nice reward for a hard day's work.
While Uwizeyimana got the Ride of the Week, let's give out of a few nods to other U23s getting it done...
-Florian Senechal won the youth classification at Tropicale Amissa Bongo after getting into a breakaway on stage 1 of the race. He dropped off the front group but still got 8th place, which is the place he held overall for the duration of the race. Yet since Senechal has a fat pro contract with Cofidis, he runs into Espoirs Central's rule about U23s racing in the Pro Continental ranks, which strikes him from getting a huge write-up on here because he is already a professional rider. Kudos to Florian on the nice ride though.
-Since Senechal isn't a "pure" U23, my unofficial Espoirs Central youth classification winner for Amissa Bongo is Moroccan Salah Mraouni. While Mraouni is about 7 months older than Senechal, he rides for the Moroccan National Team and this result could be the first of many this year. Mraouni, who has gotten the majority of his results in Morocco and ridden the last two U23 World Championships, got into the same breakaway as Senechal did on the first stage but came in with a group that was around three minutes down. Mraouni finished well over the rest of the week and thanks to a few time bonuses, slotted up into 10th overall when it was all said and done. Finishing 2nd and 3rd on the unofficial youth classification were Eritrean Metkel Eyob (13th overall) and Namibian Costa Seibeb (21st).
-For the 2nd year in a row, Venezuelan Jhorman Flores won the youth classification of the Vuelta a Tachira. The 20 year old, who is in the Androni-Venezuela pipeline, finished 19th overall in the difficult January stage race.
-Caleb Ewan finished 3rd in the Tour Down Under Classic behind Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel. The TDU Classic is the criterium that proceeds the stage race proper and while not counting for any UCI points, the sprinters are keen to show their form. Look for Ewan this week on some of flatter stages of the TDU.