Sorry everyone, I have been quite busy with work, trying to find a place to live, etc. and since I get paid a grand total of $0.00 for this blog, there hasn't been an update since the Tour de Bretagne started. But never fear, I always have my eyes on the U23s and I can give a brief update of the week that was. Also, expect a Top 5 (or so) U23 post for the best U23s through April.
Tour de Bretagne
Is there really any way to describe this race other than it being equal parts wind, rain, tiny roads and a jittery pack? Nope, didn't think so. Bretagne ranks up there with Normandie in terms of my favorite 2.2 stage races but Bretagne has a greater mix of older, more experienced riders than the latter does.
It has been a little while since the race has passed so an exhaustive rundown is a bit unneeded in my opinion so I'll just give you some quick hits.
-Mike Teunissen is a boss. Still in his 1st month of racing, Teunissen is getting very close to a major breakthrough. He was making all the right moves in the first half of the race and was 2nd overall heading into the final stage which included a torrential downpour, cold weather and some cobbles. A big breakaway went on the final stage, which included his teammate Bert-Jan Lindeman, and Teunissen missed out. He ended up falling to 13th overall in the standings while his teammate Lindeman won the overall after finishing 2nd on the stage. There was some consolation in that but it was a bitter pill to swallow after being so high on GC for the majority of the week. Teunissen also lost his SRM in a crash earlier in the week so he had that to deal with too. (His DS Arthur van Dongen went two hours out of his way after the stage to try and find it.) Teunissen is right on the cusp of something big and when he gets some more racing kilometers under him, he should be set for a big ride.
-U23s really benefitted from the big breakaway on the last stage of Bretagne with Dylan Teuns (BMC Development), Alexis Guerin (Etixx), Romain Guyot and Frank Bonnamour (BIC 2000) all finished in the top 10 overall. Teuns has been so close to big wins in the last few weeks after going 2nd overall by just 4 seconds in Bretagne and 2nd in Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23. Teuns should be ready for all-comers at the Ronde de l'Isard later this month. Bonnamour is just a first year U23 and the reigning European Junior RR Champion; he has boatloads of talent and will be one to watch in the coming years.
-Props to Vadim Galeyev (Astana CT), Teuns, Daniel Hoelgaard (Etixx) and Andre Looij for taking stage wins. The random nature of the sprints over the week made consistency quite hard thus 3 different U23 sprint winners. Hoelgaard did win the points jersey while Rabobank's Sam Oomen won the KOM classification.
Carpathian Couriers Tour
-For those of you who are tipping Eduard Grosu (and I know there are some of you that exist) I would be cautious about his future even after the great race he had at the Carpathian Couriers Tour. Grosu podium-ed every stage besides the stage 3 time trial, where he finished 6th, including winning the final two stages into Ciezkowice and Tarnow. The Romanian with Vini Fantini-Nippo still came up short on GC, finishing 2nd overall to Austrian Gregor Mühlberger by 4 seconds. Kudos on the great race but to be honest, this was a 2.2 without a lot of big-time teams. It seems like he can get into kicks at bigger races but definitely not as consistent as he was here.
-Gregor Mühlberger has been showing himself well this year after putting everyone in their place in the time trial on his way to overall victory. The young Austrian with Tirol has had a breakout year that has included a prologue win in the Istrian Spring Trophy (on his way to a 4th overall) as well as a win at the Trofeo Piva Banca. Should be a finalist for my upcoming Top U23 riders Early Season edition.
-Patryk Stosz repeated as the KOM winner at this race. The young Pole has now won 3 KOM classifications in major U23 tours (Carpathian Couriers Tour x2, Peace Race).
Tour of the Gila
-Big fucking crash on stage 1 involved about 80 riders.
- U23 Nicolai Brøchner (Bissell) won stage 2 in a sprint over former Little 500 winner Eric Young and Smartstop's Travis McCabe. Brøchner's teammate Ryan Eastman finished 4th.
-The Gila Monster stage proved as decisive as ever. Clement Chevrier couldn't quite make the lead selection and he and Bissell teammate James Oram ended up in the chasing group that came in 3'11" down. Chevrier was the best U23 overall at 4'36" behind overall winner Carter Jones.
-Adrien Costa, the wunderkind superstar for Hagens Berman U23. won the Category 1-2 stage race at Gila by winning three stages and winning the overall by nearly 2 minutes. While the competition was parred down compared to the professional race, there were some hitters present in the field and at just 16, Costa is continuously proving his talent.
U23s swept the entire weekend's worth of racing in Denmark that included the Skive Løbet, Himmerland Rundt and the Destination Thy.
-Phil Bauhaus (Stölting) took out the Skive Løbet in a bunch sprint ahead of former WT riders Alex Rasmussen and Rasmus Guldhammer. Bauhaus also finished in the top 10 of the other two races during the weekend to bring his total top 10 finishes in 1.2 races this year up to 6.
-The rest of the weekend was the Magnus Cort show. He had been a bit quiet in the last few weeks leading up to the past week, probably since the Volta Limburg in early April, but he emerged with a vengeance. At the Himmerland Rundt, Cort went on a breakaway with Rasmus Guldhammer with just 10 kilometers left in the race and the two were able to stay away from the peloton, with Cort taking the sprint from the fallen star. While Soren Kragh nipped in for 3rd, it was Thomas Nybo Riis (Bjarne's son) who won the bunch sprint for 4th ahead of Phil Bauhaus to make a Tre-For 2-3-4.
Cort wasn't done as the next day. His teammate Martin Mortensen (ex-Tinkoff-Saxo) was riding impressively off the front but the chasing group was able to bring him back with just 1 kilometer to go. CULT Energy was wanting to take the race and Cort just lept out of the pack on the slight uphill with 500 meters to go. Cort sprinted away from the remnants of the chasing peloton and was able to sit up with 50 meters to go, his win sealed.
Magnus Cort is a prodigious talent and he is probably wise beyond his years for electing to stay another year in the U23 ranks before going off into the professional scene. The real waiting game will be for which team he decided to turn pro with...my money is on Giant-Shimano, as long as they can secure funding for 2015 and beyond.
Everywhere else plus more
-Eschborn Frankfurt U23 was held on May Day like always to commemorate International Workers Day, something which falls on deaf ears in America. The U23 edition of the race had a pretty good mix of German, Belgian, French and Scandanavian talent but was missing a few big names such as Silvio Herklotz, who started the pro race and ended up attacking in the finale, eventually finishing 13th.
A three-man breakaway including former winner Sven Erik Bystrøm, Mads Pedersen and Nils Pollitt ended up deciding the race as all of the major teams (Oster Hus, CULT Energy and Stölting) had representation in the breakaway. First year U23 Pedersen was able to outkick Politt and Bystrøm. Behind them, CULT went 4th and 6th with Mads Würtz and Cort while Daan Myngheer (EFC-OPQS) was sandwiched in between them.
-The Italian Sprint Drama continued over the past week and a half. Jakub Mareczko (Viris-Maserati) beat out both Rino Gasparinni (Mg.KVIS-Trevigiani) and Nicolas Marini (Zalf-Euromobil) at the UCI 1.2 Circuito del Porto in Cremona. The race averaged over 49 km/h and Mareczko seemed quite pleased with his win. While Nicolas Marini was riding high with his 7 wins for a while, Mareczko is quickly catching up to him with 5 wins now.
Marlen Zmorka (Pala Fenice) is coming into form and took out the regional time trial in Mongrando ahead of Davide Martinelli (Colpack) by 26" and Seid Lizde (Zalf-Euromobil) by 47". Zmorka is shooting for at least a podium in his final U23 season at the World Championships while Davide Martinelli is quickly coming to a crossroads. Martinelli was billed as a time trialist from a young age but he has proven himself in many bunch kicks this year and could be at a crossroads that Marcel Kittel once faced. Kittel was a star TTer as a U23 but in his first pro season, he switched to sprinting and the rest is history. Perhaps Martinelli is coming to decision time.
Zalf-Euromobil is on track to break their 59 wins from last year as the Veneto-based team is already at 19 wins this season and with the races beginning to happen more frequently during the week. Just in the last 10 days alone Nicolas Marini, Simone Velasco, Gianni Moscon and Giacomo Berlato all racked up wins.
Colpack is currently on a Basque sojourn at the Bidasoa Itzulia, a four-stage race in the Basque Country featuring some of the best Iberian talent and more. With 15 kilometers to go, a crash ripped through the peloton and left only 57 riders in contention. Manuel Senni was on the attack the majority of the stage but the Colpack Italian flatted with 8 kilometers to go and his attempt was thwarted. Colpack's Iuri Filosi attacked with Tom Bosmans (VL Techniks-Abutriek) and Colombian Steven Calderon. Filosi dropped his companions with a couple kilometers to go and went around the final bend into the finishing straight to take a fine solo win. Behind, Davide Martinelli has snuck away to take 2nd while Oliveiro Troia won the bunch sprint ahead of Antonio Angulo, Ion Insausti and Loïc Chetout. Thursday's stage takes in the Jaizkibel just 10 kilometers from the finish.
Anything else? My brain is fried right now so I think that is all you are getting. Look for a Top U23 post in the next few days. To be honest, it is between a top 5 riders list or a best of list featuring sprinters, climbers, sprinters, most underwhelming, etc.