Since the death of the Giro del Capo races, South Africa has had a dearth of one-day racing. This year saw two races, the Mayday Classic and the Hibiscus Classic, make their debuts. South Africa has a pretty good continental circuit but they don't get much in terms of foreign riders most of the time besides follow Africans, especially Eritreans.
The Mayday Classic was controlled by a breakaway of three including Hendrik Kruger (who rode in France for a while with Martigues SC), Eritrean Metkel Eyob and U23 Nicholas Dlamini, who was 2nd in the S.A. U23 TT this year. The breakaway of three was riding well ahead of a disorganized chase group and it was Kruger, the current South African pursuit champion, who won the sprint ahead of Dlamini and Eyob, both of whom are U23 riders and teammates on the MTN-Qhubeka/WCC team. But due to issues with traffic on the course during the finale, the race jury announced that Kruger and Dlamini would split the win. U23 Ryan Gibbons won the sprint behind to take 4th.
In the Hibiscus Classic on Sunday, Dlamini launched an attack with 55 km to go but once he was brought back, it was his teammate Eyob who struck out on his own and got a maximum of one minute. Eyob had numbers in terms of teammates behind him and the Eritrean buried himself to take a fine solo win while behind it was Kruger taking the sprint ahead of Eyob's MTN-Qhubeka/WCC teammate Meron Teshome. I saw to keep an eye on this Kruger fellow. He has ridden in Europe and has a motor on him. And of course the Eritreans.
A series of three races took place over the weekend in the motherland with the first of which being the Mayor Cup in Moscow, which celebrates May Day, the International Workers' Day or basically ex-Soviet Union National Parade Day. This was won by Ukranian Sergey Lagkuti after a long breakaway with teammate Denys Kostyuk. The best U23? Get ready for it...Nikita Kugaevskiy
The next day the peloton went across town for the Memorial Oleg Dyachenko. A breakaway of hardened Ukranian and Russian journeymen took the day with another Ukranian, Mykhaylo Kononenko, winning the day while the first U23 was nearly 8 minutes down in Moldovan Cristian Raileanu.
What else but another race in Moscow. The biggest country in the world yet they have to have 3 races in the city that doesn't have too many geographic features. The GP of Moscow was a big sprint with Belorussian Siarhei Papok (Minsk) winning the day ahead of Russian trackie Ivan Savitsky and first year U23 Dzmitry Zhyhunou (Belarus).
Just a series of blah races.
Gianni Moscon is coming into fine form as he showed why he is one of Italy's finest one day racing prospects after taking his 3rd win of the year in the GP Industria e Commercio Botticino. Zalf-Euromobil held it together very well for the steep uphill finish and once on the climb, Moscon attacked and but distance between himself and Davide Gabburo, the only rider relatively close to him. Similar to his win in the GP San Giuseppe, Moscon came around the final uphill corner solo and powered up to the line to take another impressive win. In less than two months, he has 3 wins along with 2nd in the Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 and 4th in the UCI Trofeo Piva Banca.
|Minali (l) taking a tight one over Pacioni (r)|
The Romana Sieminskiego Memorial took place this weekend in no idea where, Poland. It was a big sprint won by Czech Alois Kankovsky, who won the inaugural track omnium World Championship in 2007. The best U23 was 5th place Adrian Banaszek. I have no idea who he is other than his results.
The Belgies love to do things their own way sometimes and while it is the beginning of May, the time trial championships happened this past weekend. In the U23 category, heavy favorite Ruben Pols (Lotto Belisol U23) blitzed the 37.8 kilometer course in an average speed of nearly 46 kilometers per hour or 28.5 miles per hour. Pols has won the East Flanders regional title, the Borlo National TT and now the National U23 Championship. Pols avenged his close loss from last year and looks destined to have an impact on the U23 Worlds TT this year.
Behind Pols, it was Nathan Van Hooydonck (BMC Devo) taking 2nd at a bit over 25 seconds down while Aime De Gendt (EFC-Etixx) finished in 3rd overall.
Formerly known as the Destination Thy, the GP Vyborg kicked off the Danish Three Day weekend of racing. The race featured three pieces of gravel roads and on the final portion, a group of 7 including three from Coop-Østerhus got away. That group would be slowly wittled down to two in Oscar Landa (Coop) and Bob Schoonbroodt (Parkhotel Valkenburg), who got away on the final local circuit. The duo had to keep their nose to the stem as the peloton was hard charging behind. In the two-up sprint, the upstart Landa was able to take the win ahead of Schoonbroodt while just 8 seconds behind it was Schoonbroodt's teammate Wim Stroetinga taking the bunch sprint ahead of Oscar Riesebeek (Metec) and U23 Gustav Höög (Tre Berg). This was an important win for Landa, who did it in front of his family no less, as the Norwegian rider has been trying to find consistent form all season.
The following day was more or less straightforward as the peloton kept together in the Himmerland Rundt and a bunch sprint came to the line. Who else but Wim Stroetinga to take the bunch sprint as it is seemingly his forte for nearly the last half decade. Behind Stroetinga, it was Asbjorn Kragh, Johim Ariesen and U23 Nicola Brøchner.
The last race of the weekend was the Skive Løbet. Mads Würtz Schmidt (coloQuick) was off the front with 30 kilometers to go but the young Dane was only able to stay away until roughly 10 kilometers to go. The small chase group that caught Würtz was quite active but on the final lap it was Alexander Kamp (coloQuick) and Haavard Blikra (Coop) that got away. Once they worked together, they were gone. Kamp has gone through some rough years with bad motivation and bad teams but the last three years seemed to all slip away and the rider that was hailed out of the junior ranks showed some of that brilliance. Kamp took Blikra to the line and the Dane took the sprint for his first UCI win in over two years.
That is all. There could possibly be more but I've reached my limit for now. Until next time.