Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Rides of the Week 1/27-2/2

Finally, some action is happening on the road and I can write about more than just the odd happening or two. I've been busy with a project the last few weeks, which I am finishing up now, so hopefully in the coming weeks, I'll be able to post a bit more frequently. Without further adieu, let's go through the Rides of the Week.

The winner for this past week is...

James Oram wins the queen stage of the New Zealand Cycle Classic

After a prologue and three sprint stages, the taps were opened full blast for the uphill finish in Palmerston North. Race leader Michael Vink, Bissell's James Oram and first year U23 Daniel Whitehouse made the selection and the trio shoved ahead of Ben Dyball, Adam Phelan, Graham Briggs and other more seasoned riders. Vink had taken the leader's jersey in the prologue and after safely getting through the sprint stages, he was showing the talent that got him attention all through his U23 career and just needed to stay with Oram and Whitehouse to secure his yellow jersey.

With Vink's overall secured, Oram and Whitehouse were able to duke it out in the final kilometer and it was Bissell's Oram that took the sprint over the relatively unknown Whitehouse for the stage win, which propelled the duo to 2nd and 4th overall, respectively.

I hope that this will be that Oram steps into a leadership role with Bissell and is able to fit into the big shoes that he got after his stellar results as a junior. I'm curious about Daniel Whitehouse though. I haven't been able to find many results or really much at all about him but he seemed very confident in the queen stage for a 19 year old. He looks like a stringbean in picture and he can fly up some hills.

The runner(s) up are...

Tecchio, Großschartner, Grosu attacks; Pibernik 8th at GP Etruschi

The Italian season got underway Sunday at the GP Etruschi, where all of the Italian teams (and others) came out of the woodwork to show off their early season form. A big break got away early that included U23s Francesco Lamon (Italy U23), Felix Großschartner (Gourmetfein), Eduard-Michael Grosu (Vini Fantini-Nippo-De Rosa) and Marco Tecchio (Area Zero). The group of eight did the usual breakaway thing and when the race was entering the final laps, Großschartner and Tecchio were the final two left before being passed and dropped by neo-pro Davide Formolo, Patrik Dopewitz, Mauro Finetto and Matteo Rabottini.

As YellowFluo's Simone Ponzi lept off the front in the finale, the peloton came back together for a group sprint behind the rider that is currently one of many embroiled in the Mantova investigation. While Ponzi scheme went on to win solo, behind him Luka Pibernik finished 7th in the bunch sprint for 8th on the day while WorldTour neo-pros Formolo, Davide Villella and Jan Polanc all finished in the front group. Pibernik already has a pre-contract with Lampre and this year will certainly be big for him.

Other News

- The team list for the Tour de Normandie was released. Smartstop DS Mike Creed said on his podcast that Normandie is "one of the hardest race nobody gives a fuck about." It is a damn hard race every year and is one of the premiere races for continental teams, especially in the early season. A large amount of development teams have spots here and they will do their best to go up against the Pro Continental Bretagne-Séché Environment.

-With the Cyclocross Worlds this past weekend, there are a few notes. Mathieu van der Poel, after crashing and salvaging 3rd in the U23 race, has said again what he eluded to previously that he would be cutting back on the road in 2014 to focus on cyclocross. In the U23 race, riders that focus on the road mainly finished in the back half of the top 20 including Mike Teunissen, Anthony Turgis, Stan Godrie and Clement Venturini. Come February, it is so hard for guys trying to do both disciplines to be fresh enough to go against the best in their class.

- Herald Sun Tour starts down under this week. Jayco-AIS are fielding a U23 team including Nationals standout Harry Carpenter, Alex Clements, Robert Power, Robert-Jon McCarthy, Sam Spokes and Tom Hamilton. GB are fielding a national team piloted by Russ Downing but include five U23s including Germain Burton and Chris Lawless. James Oram leads the NZ National Team that includes U23 National Champ Hayden McCormick, Hamish Schreurs and Dion Smith. More U23 talent there will be overall contender Jack Haig, Campbell Flakemore and Rapha's Felix English. Racing starts Wednesday.

-In other racing, the Dubai Tour will start this week and will include the Vini Fantini-Nippo-De Rosa squad which has U23s in Grosu, Kim Magnusson, Manabu Ishibashi and Willie Smit.

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