Surprisingly, the world continues to turn when I am in full-geek mode about a race. This past week for example, I was pretty much obsessed with Tour des Pays de Savoie to the point where I'm sure more than one person muted me on Twitter. Yet other races happened and big news was announced as well while I was questioning why there was an Ottavio Bottecchia sprint in the final stage of Savoie. Let's begin at the beginning with the biggest U23 news of the week.
Magnus Cort signs with Orica-GreenEdge
The biggest news of the past week was the announcement that Magnus Cort had signed with Orica-GreenEdge for 3 years starting in 2015. While Caleb Ewan was the biggest announcement for a contract so far, the Dane's signing overshadows Ewan's, in my opinion, because of how dangerous of a rider he really is. Cort has racked up 10 UCI wins this year and doesn't look like he will be stopping anytime soon. GreenEdge is a good spot for him to go as well because of their good track record with development, most recently with the Yates brothers Simon and Adam.
DS Matt White described Cort as a multi-dimensional rider and a "classy all-arounder" who should develop with their Classics team. I'm hoping that they don't pigeonhole him as just a one-day rider because this kid...he is a talent. If you limit him to just focusing on one-day classics, then you could be missing out on some things. Anyways, White included some comment in the CN article announcing the move where he said, "Most people probably perceive Magnus as a sprinter, but
I wouldn't call him that." Matt White, did you fall on your head one too many times as a rider? Who are these most people that think Cort is just a sprinter? Maybe if you have been hit in the head with a hammer you might think that. Not to offend the casual observer but even if you just looked at his race results, you would realize Cort isn't just a sprinter. Uphill finishes, breakaways, one-day races, stage races...and yes even sprints. Yet you would need to be blind and deaf to think he is a sprinter. Even then, I think that those unfortunate souls could work out he is more than just that.
Kung wins Fleche Ardennaise; 2nd in Swiss Elite TT
While I was in my brain fog of Savoie, something else did happen in Belgium. Stefan Kung (BMC Development) continued his strong season by breaking away from a breakaway and riding solo to win the Fleche Ardennaise while his teammate Loic Vliegen, also riding well this year, was able to come in for 2nd, 43 seconds down, while Boris Dron slotted into 3rd.
To follow up his win at Fleche Ardennaise, Kung went to the Swiss Nationals and instead of lining up for the U23 TT on Wednesday, he took part in the Elite Men's TT against Fabian Cancellara. Fabs bested the younger Swiss Mister by 49 seconds on the 44.7 kilometer course but Kung was able to hold on for 2nd place.
Sondre Holst Enger wins the Norway U23 RR
Mr. Enger has had a fairly quiet year up until the Tour des Fjords, where he was up in the sprints and finished 5th overall. This past weekend, Enger lined up for the Norwegian U23 RR. The race itself didn't turn out to be too hard and a big group came to the line together which allowed Enger to take the sprint victory ahead of teammate Andreas Erland and Frederik Galta (Oster Hus). I'm not very surprised as there were no other big-time sprinters in the race so I'll chalk it up to just checking a box rather than a very big accomplishment.
Other News and Notes
-In case you missed the big news, Louis Vervaeke will be transferring to the Lotto-Belisol pro team starting on July 1. Vervaeke had wanted to stay in the U23 ranks for the rest of the season but after winning Pays de Savoie, according to Lotto-Belisol manager Marc Sergeant, Louis realized he was ready to face the professionals. This isn't an unprecedent move as roommate Tim Wellens did just the same in 2012 after a torrid spring in the U23 ranks. Wellens told Louis that this would reduce the pressure compared to starting in the pros in 2015. If everything goes to plan, Louis could see the start of the Tour of Austria and singing mid-season, he would still be able to ride Tour de l'Avenir (thanks UCI!).
-On the back of the Vervaeke announcement, it was also confirmed by Lotto-Belisol U23 leader Kurt Van De Wouwer that Tiesj Benoot would be getting a stagiaire role with Lotto-Belisol starting in August. I have to say that Lotto is doing a very good job at keeping home grown talent in house.
-Patrick Konrad won the Oberosterreichrundfahrt over the weekend. He was the first one that was able to pronounce the race name correctly. He and countryman Gregor Muhlberger got away on the final stage together and Muhlberger got the win, his 5th of the year, while Konrad took the overall.
-Loic Vliegen continued a torrid spring by going 2nd in the IWT Jong Maar Moedig race on Wednesday. The BMC Development rider got into a 2-man break with partyboy Gijs Van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen) and the track star Van Hoecke outpaced Vliegen in the finale. Vliegen has gone very well in one-day races this year and could be in line for a stagiaire role later this year if he keeps it up.