Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Week in Review: Marini continues winning ways

Before getting started on a recap of the week that was, I would like to give my condolences to the family and teammates of Yerlan Pernebekov, who died on Monday in Ecuador after suffering a burst vein from a stroke. Pernebekov was a talented first year U23 Kazakh on Astana Continental that was at team camp in Ecuador and when he complained of a severe headache and was rushed to the hospital. After being put in an artificial coma by doctors on the 14th, he passed away on Monday. It is always a shame when a young person is taken from this world before they are able to make their impact on the world.

For those wondering why Astana Continental is in Ecuador for team camp, there is a pretty good reason. Ecuador is the police-state version of Colombia, where the press are treated as enemies of the state and the current sham of a government restricts human rights, treats rape victims as criminals and enjoys cracking down on protesters. Seeing as Kazakhstan isn't exactly the most free place to live either, you can see why a their national development cycling team would come to train in a similar place. But Ecuador does have some great mountains to climb and very nice roads, so there is that.

Let's get away from the dreary and try to accentuate the positive...

Italian Sprint Opera: Marini continues domination at Popolarissima

Gomirato (l) posts up at Marini (r) takes the win by a comfortable margin
Nicolas Marini has announced himself in a big, bad way this season. Marini extended his winning streak to four, having won a race on four consecutive weekends to start out his 2014 campaign. His latest win came at the 99th Popolarissima, a race which has been won by the likes of Viviani, Minali and the founder of Pinarello himself, Giovanni Pinarello. (Pinarello is Zalf-Euromobil's bike sponsor.)

The race itself had multiple attacks but nothing was able to stick for a long time and a sprint became inevitable as Zalf-Euromobil's train, which is becoming quite a fearsome bunch, ramped up the pace. Davide Gomirato, who has taken to the lead-out man job for Marini with aplomb, lead out the Lombardian in the last 250 meters and Marini took off like a jet and won by a bike length over Liam Bertazzo (MK.Kvis-Trevigiani), Mattia De Mori and archrival Jakub Moreczko, who had to settle for 4th.

Zalf-Euromobil is already at 6 wins for the year and is well on their way to topping the 59 wins the team had in 2013. Marini is marking himself as the biggest sprint talent on the Italian market but there are some big races in the next month that will separate the weed from the chaff so it'll be important to see how the rider from Lago de Iseo gets on.

Other races include...

-American U23 Dan Eaton, who won the Valley of the Sun GC early this year, finished 8th in the Tucson Bicycle Classic for his Canyon Bicycles-Shimano team, just 8 seconds behind winner Gregory Brenes and on the same time as Colombian Daniel Jaramillo. In fact, 5 of the riders that finished in front of him on GC were from Continental teams.

-Catalan Marc Soler (Lizarte) has been really stamping his name onto the Spanish/Basque scene after winning his 3rd race of the season at Saturday's GP Kutxabank. Mixing some sprint as well as climbing, Soler has been able to lead his Lizarte team to multiple good results and might be making him a spot for himself on the national team.

-Norwegian Kristoffer Skjerping capped off a successful day by the Joker team at Paris-Troyes by getting 2nd place behind Steve Tronet in a small group spring. Skjerping, the current U23 National RR Champion, benefited from strong team work from fellow U23 Odd Christian Eiking and Reidar Borgersen, who finished in 11th and 12th, respectively. Skjerping will be in attendance at the upcoming Tour of Normandie, which starts on the 24th and should suit his strengths as a rouleur.

-Pole Lukasz Wisniowski beat out his breakaway mates Gaeten Bille and Boris Dron to take out the Kattekoers. Wisniowski, who graduated from the U23 ranks last year, has been on hot form this year including a 4th at the Ster van Zwolle. Daan Myngheer (EFC-OPQS) finished 2nd in the group sprint behind the breakaway trio, which was good for 5th on the day and best U23.

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