Monday, February 16, 2015

Weekend Roundup: Here at last!

While it is currently single digits in central Pennsylvania, the racing in continental Europe has finally started in earnest and the riders are coming out of hibernation after a long off-season of riding a lot and not eating much. Lots of French races plus a little bit more.

Gogl hangs on for GP Laguna win
With 40 kilometers to go, Michael Gogl was nearly 5 minutes up the road with breakaway companions Seid Lizde and Simone Petilli over a group of 23. While the gap might have appeared to seem dramatic, it was about to plummet and become a nail biter. The chasing group was stacked with 5 of Gogl's Felbermayr-Simplon Wels teammates, 3 from Petilli's Unieuro-Wilier Trevigiani and 2 from Lizde's Colpack team.

The details are scarce because Croatian races simply do not believe in live updates but the race got tight as Adria Mobil, who had 4 in the chasing group including ex-World Tour rider Marko Kump. A 5 minute gap was just mere seconds by the finish but Gogl, who was 4th in a stage of the Tour de l'Avenir last year on the way to 15th overall, was able to easily out-sprint Lizde and Petilli for the win. Just 10 seconds behind Gogl was a flying Marko Kump, who beat out Gogl's teammate Daniel Biedermann and Lizde's teammates Davide Martinelli and Damiano Cima. Martinelli is further proving my hypothesis that he will see more success as a sprinter than as a time trialist.

Tour de l'Ardeche Meridionale

Down in South Central France, Chambery CF got their season off to a splendid start in the two day Tour de l'Ardeche Meridionale, which took place along the scenic Ardeche river and river valley. When I mean splendid, I really mean that it was about as close to perfect as possible.
Day 1, aka the GP du Domaine Lou Capitelle, saw Chambery CF take 5 riders off the front of a 150 man peloton and go 1-2-3-4-5 with Nans Peters taking the solo win ahead of Nico Denz (Germany), Benoit Cosnefroy, Francois Bidard and Freddy Ovett (Australia). Now, this isn't the first time this has happened like Baden Cooke exclaimed as Armée de Terre did this multiple times over the last couple of seasons but it was an impressive display.
Day 2, aka the GP d'Aubenas, was a repeat for Peters, who once again took a rain-soaked solo win. Chambery didn't do the quintet but put 3 in the top 10. Peters, who was 3rd in the French U23 TT last year, beat out Bruno Chardon (ASPTT) and Simon Buttner.

Circuit des Plages Vendeennes

Coop-Osterhus, disguised as the the Norwegian National Team, went down to the Vendee region and so far, has gone 2 for 2 in the 6 stage Circuit des Plages Vendeenes (think Mallorca Challenge of Central France). On stage one, Oscar Landa and Lilian Calmejane (Vendee U) went off the front of a group of 10 late in the race. Calmejane didn't have much impetus to work with Landa as he had multiple teammates in the breakaway including sprinter Romain Cardis. The two-man move didn't come back and it was Landa, who rides for Coop-Osterhus, that outsprinted Calmejane for the win. 14 seconds back, it was Haavard Blikra (Norway taking the sprint for 3rd over Fabian Grellier (Vendee U) and Clement Mary (Sojasun Espoirs).
On stage 2, August Jensen, who won the KOM in the Arctic Tour of Norway, won after taking a solo flyer. Have a mentioned that results sheets for French amateur races suck because it shows that there was no time gap behind Jensen but obviously there was no one for a while since there is no one in the photo. Anyways, the action in the Vendee continues on Tuesday.

l'Essor Basque

Speaking of Mallorca Challenge look alikes, the l'Essor Basque takes place down in the French Basque country (and surrounding areas) with some short races to warm the legs up for a long year. While usually much better weather, the first stage, the Boucles de l'Essor, was a rain-soaked affair that was dominated by the home team, GSC Blagnac. Yoann Verardo lept away from 7 others to take a wet solo win while his Blagnac teammate Romain Campistrous took out the sprint for 2nd.

In the Circuit de l'Essor, former Ag2r pro Julien Loubet made the race defining breakaway and dropped everyone to take a solo win for his new team, Marseille 13 KTM (former La Pomme Marseille). Ex-pro Erwann Corbel won the sprint for 2nd with teammate Cyrille Patoux following in 3rd.

In other races...

-Remi Cavagna, a 2nd year U23 with Pro Immo Nicolas Roux, took a solo win in the Tour du Centre Var. Cavagna was 2nd in the French U23 TT last year and was a standout time trialist as a junior.

-Axeon Cycling's Dan Eaton won the Valley of the Sun time trial. Fabrizio Von Nacher, who hails from Southern California and rides for the KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo team, rode a fairly consistent race with 3rd in the TT and 2nd in the criterium to finish as best U23 and 4th overall in the race behind winner Heath Blackgrove.

-David Edwards, who had been riding for Chambery CF in France up until this year, won the U23 crown in the Oceania Continental RR after being apart of an early breakaway of 6 and being the U23 present in the group. Edwards has had a trying two years in France but looks to be on good form to bounce back with CharterMason.

Anything else present that you think is missing and deserves immediate attention? See me @Vlaanderen90 on twitter

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