Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekend Roundup: Marcezko trumps Ewan; Chevrier wins San Dimas

So while many were in Normandie and Alentejo this week, there was a lot of racing still happening that most people, unless they are a dork about this stuff like yours truly, didn't know about. We will get started with the big duel of the weekend that turned into a bit of an upset.

Jakub Mareczko beats Caleb Ewan

The title really says it all on this one. For those that have followed the site so far this season have heard already heard of Jakub Mareczko (Viris-Maserati), mainly for his shortcomings against the Italian V12 that is Nicolas Marini (Zalf-Euromobil). At the 31st Trofeo Antonietto Rancilio, Mareczko was set up for a duel with the Australian international wunderkind Caleb Ewan, who was coming with his Australian National Team. While Marini was disappointingly not present, Mareczko and Ewan were set up for a duel and on a more-or-less flat 8 kilometer circuit that was to be done 19 times, the sprint was looking inevitable from the start. While a couple of breakaway attempts tried to go, it was Viris-Maserati, Australian National, Colpack and General Store leading the peloton to keep everything set up for the sprint.

Heading into the finale, the Australians had set up Ewan perfectly and launched the Mini-Pocket Rocket on what looked to be a winning sprint. Ewan looked clear but with 30 meters left in the race, Mareczko popped up on his left and went past for the win. I don't want to sound like getting one 2nd place will be the downfall of Caleb Ewan but it is always a reminder that when fans and the media build up an athlete, such as Ewan, into such an infallible being that when they actually do lose, people lose their damn minds instead of remembering that Ewan is still just a 2nd year U23 and that, as crazy as it might sound, there are really fast sprinters out there. Just because he is being offered World Tour contracts doesn't mean he is going to win every "gimme" race. 

I'm sure before the race, Mareczko was planning to be all cool if he beat Ewan. What his salute came off like was "SHITSHITSHITIBEATEWANHOLYSHIT". (Photo:
Coming in a close 3rd place was Simone Consonni (Colpack), who is the reigning Italian Track Omnium Champ and has been in fine form this season including a 5th at Popolarrisima two weeks ago. 4th place was 1st year U23 Riccardo Minali (General Store), the son of famed sprinter Nicola Minali and heralded as the next coming of his father, who won stages in all three Grand Tours. The race itself was a very fast one, averaging nearly 45 km/h over 157 kilometers. Now hopefully Mareczko and Ewan will be able to get with Marini and some others for a big time sprint duel later this year.

Iuri Filosi dances away at the Piccolo Sanremo

In a race that is nowhere near Sanremo or the Mediterranean coast for that matter, the Piccolo Sanremo offered up as much excitement as a "small race" can. Located in Sovizzo, which is nearly 300 miles away from Sanremo in the province of Vicenza, the Piccolo Sanremo is dedicated to the big races legacy and follows a course than includes a finishing circuit that has a climb in it and is done 7 times. Every big team was represented by their A-team, in most cases, and fireworks were intimate.

After a flurry of action, a breakaway with Isaia Modena and Mirco Maestri (both General Store) took off early and provided a carrot for the peloton. When the two attackers were gobbled up, a large group rolled off the front of the peloton. This group included Iuri Filosi and Manuel Senni (Colpack), Giacomo Berlato and Alessandro Tonelli (Zalf-Euromobil) and Ilya Koshevoy (GS Podenza), among about 20 others. On the last ascent of the Vigo climb on the final circuit, Filosi was able to drag himself away from the group with Michele Gazzare chasing solo and Senni, Berlato and Koshevoy following in his wake. The masterful climber Filosi was able to time trial away and had time to sit up to celebrate his first, as well as the team's first, win of the season. Gazzara came in 2nd at 6 seconds down while Berlato lead the chasing trio across the line in 3rd, just salvaging the day for Zalf-Euromobil, with Senni in 4th and Koshevoy, whole is scheduled to join Lampre as a stagiaire later this year, in 5th. Filosi is on tap for a huge year on the climbing front so watch out. Also, it is so weird to think that Colpack hasn't won at all this year until now. For a few years, they were right up there with Zalf-Euromobil in the win column but without Villella and company, it is dry times.

Other Races

-Clement Chevrier won his 1st race with Bissell Development by taking the San Dimas Stage Race overall after a solid opening uphill TT and making the breakaway on the next stage, which put him in the leader's jersey. Bissell teammate James Oram won the opening uphill time trial by 1 second over Gregory Brenes (Jamis) and 10 seconds on junior William Barta (BYRDS). Oram's Bissell teammates Tao Geoghegan Hart was 5th and Chevrier was 8th in the TT. On stage 2, a breakaway of 9 went away on the 135 km RR and Chevrier was the best placed in the group. Anton Varabei won the stage with u23 Dan Eaton (Canyon Bicycles-Shimano) in 3rd place. Chevrier took the overall lead on the stage by 3 seconds on Coulton Hartrich. The final stage, a criterium, was won by former USA National Team rider Dan Holloway while Chevrier finished comfortably in the bunch to win the overall over Hartrich while Dan Eaton finished 3rd overall. Chevrier took a big gamble by coming to Bissell and as of now, it is paying off.

-Attention. Attention. Nicolas Marini did not win a race this weekend. The nation is crumbling at the seams. Well maybe not but still, it is notable that Nicolas Marini, who had a winning percentage of 87.5% so far this year, did not win a race that he started in. While Marini didn't win, the 105th edition of La Bolghera did not end in disappointment for Zalf-Euromobil. On an undulating course, 1st year U23 Simone Velasco, who has been heralded as one of the best of his generation, attacked solo on the final 10 circuits of the race and put in a huge effort, that allowed him to have a gap of nearly 1'00"
 by the time he crossed the line. A group of 20 came to the line after him with his Zalf-teammate Albanian Eugert Zhupa leading the charge. Zalf now has 8 victories in a very young season and will be looking to top 60 wins this year. This race signaled the return of the talented Federico Zurlo, who bork ehis collarbone in Trofeo Franco Balestra.

-Arnua Sole won the heralded Spanish one-day, the Subida al Gorla, which is a one-day hill climb that has been won by some of the biggest Spanish names in recent history including Joaquim Rodriguez and Alberto Contador. Marc Soler, a U23 that has been tearing it up on the national front, finished 4th and will be a new name to many when he joins the U23 national team for some races later this year.

-Arvid de Kleijn (Croford) won the U23 Meeus Race, which is a relatively big regional event in Belgian involving everyones favorite elements: wind and cobbles. The race more or less stayed together for a big sprint, which was won by de Kleijn ahead of Christophe Noppe (EFC-OPQS) and Christopher Lawless, a first year U23 with the GB National Team's 100% ME squad.


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