Let's do a quick roundup of the U23 National Road Races that took this weekend...
Ireland: Ryan Mullen
Ryan Mullen decided to not let any World Tour riders keep the Irish jersey and he decided to go on a loooooong breakaway and by the time he crossed the line, he was nearly a minute ahead of teammate Sean Downey and ex-AnPost rider Paidi O'Brien by the time he crossed the line solo to win both the Irish Elite and U23 National Road Race titles. Mullen is really the next big Irish rider after a great junior career and U23 career, to date, and will be on the tip of many's tongue coming into 2015.
Spain: Gonzalo Andrés
Italy: Simone Sterbini
There is a reason that Simone Sterbini (Pala Fenice) signed with Bardiani-CSF for 2015 all the way back in 2013. After taking an impressive stage win in the mountains in Peaches and Nectarines, Sterbini made the 7-man breakaway in the Italian National Championships that was able to go to the line. In the final 180 turn with less than half a kilometer to go, Jacopo Mosca (Viris-Maserati) led the group out but Sterbini launched from the 3rd wheel and won comfortably ahead of Simone Andreetta (Zalf-Euromobil), Luca Chirico (MG.Kvis-Trevigiani) and Iuri Filosi (Colpack). Sterbini isn't one of those guys that goes for 8 wins a year but when he wins, it is big.
Austria: Gregor Mühlberger
Kicked everyone in the stomach. The Austrian U23s were lumped into the elite category and it was an absolutely brutal pace. Something like 3500 meters of climbing and over 100 miles in distances makes a tough day for anyone. Riccardo Zoidl and Gregor Mühlberger were able to make the final selection and while Zoidl made the final blow to take the win, Mühlberger performed out of his skin to take the U23 crown. He beat the 2nd place U23 rider, Maximillian Keun, by over 6 minutes. Mühlberger is ready for the pro peloton. Mark my words. Also underline. And star. Underline one more time for good measure. Only 21 riders finished the elite/u23 race.
Albania: Xhuliano Kamberaj
Reversing the result from the Albanian TT, Xhuliano Kamberaj beat out Nikaj Iltjan in a sprint to win the Albanian Elite RR Championship. Basically count it as a U23 championship because all of the best Albanian racers are U23s and race in Italy for some pretty notable amateur teams. Both Kamberaj and Iltjan have some potential so good on them for going back to the mother country to ride nationals.
Rwanda: Valens Ndayisenga
At last autumn's Tour of Rwanda, Valens Ndayisenga won the 2nd stage of the race in an uphill sprint as just a first year U23. He has continued to ride well for the National Team this year by competiting in the Algerian Grand Tour and finishing rather well in most of the races. After taking a break from racing, Valens came back to racing with the Rwandan National Championships. In the TT, he beat out every strong contender incluing Jean Bosco Nsengimana and Adrien Niyonshuti. The next day, Valens beat out Janvier Hadi and Bonaventure Uwizeyimana to take out the Elite Rwandan RR title.
The Rwandan National program might have truly started with Adrien Niyonshuti but I think that Valens Ndayisenga could be the most talented rider to day. That is saying a lot since Bonaventure won a stage in Amissa Bongo this year and was getting offers from Vendée U to ride for their squad in Europe. Valens was the last emperor of the Eastern Roman Emperor before things truly went to shit. Perhaps Valens I tooks enough of the flack so Rwandan Valens go extend his legs and go into the pro ranks climbing. Someday.
Slovakia: Lubos Malovec
Czech Republic: Tomas Koudela
Ukraine: Valerii Taradai
Portugal: Joaquim Silva
Silva, pure and simple, rode everyone else into the ground. 2nd place was 2'58" back and the peloton was 10 minutes down fighting for 4th place.
Netherlands: Tim Kerkhof
When a team puts 7 riders in the top 10, you kind of expect that team to win. Right? Wrong. Rabobank Development kind of dropped the ball a little bit. They put 7 in the top 10 yet only one rider on the podium in Piotr Havik. Etixx's Tim Kerkhof was joined by Havik and Dennis Bakker and Kerkhof, who isn't exactly known for winning lately, was able to outsprint the other two to take the impressive win. A little egg on your face there Rabobank.
Poland: Piotr Brozyna
Belarus: Nikolai Shumov
Canada: Ben Perry
Perry (Lotto-Belisol U23) was never in contention for the win with Svein Tuft being on a rampage but Perry was able to hold onto one of the main chasing groups with 3 Quebecois in Guillaume Boivin (Cannondale), Hugo Houle (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Antoine Duchesne (Europcar) to take the U23 jersey by a whopping 13 minutes over Kris Dahl (Smartstop). The Belgians will be happy with Perry taking a little souvenir back with him across the pond.
Sweden: Markus Faglum
Descent of the famed Faglum brothers (Gosta Pettersson and his brothers but they were from the town of Faglum), Markus Faglum has now taken up the family business. Faglum was apart of a 4-man break in the Swedish Elite/U23 RR including Michael Olsson, Alexander Wetterhall and Frederik Ludvigsson. Olsson hit out for broke in the end to take the Elite Men's crown while Faglum distanced Ludvigsson in the finale to take the U23 jersey. He even had time for a wheelie across the line.
-Phil Bauhaus is collecting podium spots in the German Championships. After going 2nd to his Stölting teammate Max Walscheid in the U23 RR Championship, Bauhaus lined up for the German Elite RR and proceeded to go 3rd overall behind two heavyweights in Andre Greipel and John Degenkolb. Bauhaus is turning 20 years old in a week. Are people going to finally pay attention to this stud or am I going to have to slap them upside the head? Seriously. Bauhaus will be the next big young German sprinter. Young Alexander Kreiger (Stuttgart) continued his strong season in 4th while Willi Willwohl (LKT Brandenburg) snuck in for 9th.
-Apparently going 26th in the U23 RR is good prep for the Elite National RR. In one of the more shocking championship results this year, Tormod Hausken Jacobsen, an unheralded U23 on Øster Hus-Ridley, took out the biggest win of his short career. Hausken Jacobsen was the freshest heading into the final sprint and owes a huge thanks to his teammates Sven Erik Bystrøm, who was on the attack from early on until the penultimate lap, and Frederik Galta, who gave him a nice leadout in the end. FixIT.no's Filip Eidsheim had to settle for 2nd while Odd Christian Eiking placed a very strong 3rd overall ahead of World Tour rider Vegard Breen. Big favorite Alexander Kristoff came in in 16th overall over 2 minutes down with Sondre Holst Enger and Vegard Stake Laengen. Article here with results and another with more reactions here and here.
-Denmark had their U23 RR weeks ago but many of them lined up for the Danish Elite RR in Faa-Faa-Faaborg. Michael Valgren continued his strong neo-pro season by breaking away to take the solo win while behind it was U23 Michael Carbel who won the bunch sprint for 2nd, which is a damn fine result for a first year U23. Also in that front chasing group was Christina Watches' Alexander Kamp. Kamp was just publicly shamed by his DS Bo Hamburger on Open Mic with Mike Creed for being one of the biggest Danish talents yet having limited work ethic and also having his father call up about his schedule. Again, that would be like your dad calling your boss and asking about your schedule and why you aren't getting a raise, etc. Kamp was such a talented junior but his U23 career has been up and down and he needs to get his shit together before he fades into darkness.