Hello everyone, it has been a little while. Life...can be annoying. Plus, you know, I don't get paid for this so every now and then, passion needs to be recharged.
In any case, let's attempt at getting a preview out for the U23 World TT Championship that is happening from Richmond, Virginia, USA. Espoirs Central will be in attendance for the U23 events with my lovely girlfriend but I don't know how much reporting I will be doing but more likely muses from Twitter (if you aren't following, it is @Vlaanderen90).
It is now just two days before the event, yet there is no confirmed start list for the U23 World TT so once again, great job to the UCI. Two days before the Super Bowl and you have no idea who will be actually competing. EDIT: CyclingFever has us covered
For now, I will go over the main story lines and once a list is confirmed, I will go more in depth either on here or on Twitter.
Steven Lammertink (Netherlands) will be a name on many people's lips simply because of his major wins this year in time trials. Lammertink, who signed with Lotto NL-Jumbo for next year, won the Tour de Berlin TT, the Netherlands U23 crown and a tight European U23 TT in Tartu, Estonia. While his pedigree is certainly there, he was a distant 8th at the recent Chrono Champenois, nearly 1'30" down. This happened last year with the Dutchman as he was on red-hot form earlier in the season but slipped in the latter stages and finished 14th at Worlds. So his form is certainly in question but if Champenois was a hiccup, then he could easily be a medal contender.
Speaking of usual medal contenders, Australia is in a rather unique situation. As a nation, they are usually gunning for the win in this event. The last time they had no one on the podium was in 2007. Since that time, they have taken 9 medals in the event (out of 21) including 4 gold medals with four different winners in Jack Bobridge, Luke Durbridge, Damien Howson and Campbell Flakemore. This year, they are faced with a dilemna because they lack a standout TT rider coming into Richmond. However, the Cycling Australia bosses have decided to put just 1 rider in the ITT instead of the three riders they could have.
If was are going by Chrono Champenois results, Miles Scotson seems to be on the best form as he went 4th place at 50 seconds back. Scotson has been primarily focused on the track with his eyes on the Rio Team Pursuit squad but he has popped up here and there on the road. Albeit, he has never done a U23 World TT before or many TTs against international competition so if he get the nod, will he be able to produce? Haig is obviously known for his climbing talents but the old boy can scoot on a TT bike and has been getting better with age. Carpenter has produced in TTs at home but is a volatile quantity abroad. He deserves a ride simply because he has chipped away at this for years and who knows, it could be his only chance at World's glory.
Mads Würtz (Denmark) was the junior World Champion in the discipline in 2011 and after being cut by CULT Energy this past year, he has bounced back fantastically and is now a favorite for gold. He was on point at the Tour de l'Avenir and demolished the competition at the Tour of Denmark TT so if his form has carried, he should be all over this.
French National Coach Pierre-Yves Chatelon made a gross oversight by not selecting Frenchman Remi Cavagna, the current national U23 TT champ, because he didn't feel like he could compete in the road race. Utter bullshit and Cavagna was the best chance at a major result. On a good day, Marc Fournier can throw down in a TT but with this crowd? Top 20 at best.
GB is coming with a few shots in the like of Owain Doull and Scott Davies but perhaps a top 10 will be the best they will get. Speaking of the island, Ireland has Ryan Mullen and Eddie Dunbar. The former is definitely a favorite for the win after missing out my mere fractions of a second last year to Campbell Flakemore. Dunbar is just a first year but was 9th in European Champs.
Davide Martinelli might be getting the hype for Italy but while he can TT well, I don't think he will be Italy's highest finisher. Filippo Ganna, who was 4th in the Junior Worlds TT last year and the recent winner of the Chrono Champenois, has been flying since graduating high school and should be the Italian that is on the tip of your tongue.
Germany has two top 10 talents that, in theory, could both medal in Max Schachmann and Lennard Kamna. Schachmann has been building the last couple of years with a 9th place in 2013 and 5th last year and was 3rd in the European Championships. The course is a bit more rolling than the Tartu course so it could play to Schachmann even more. Kamna has been the sensation of the season with his incredible riding and seems to still be in fantastic form after winning the German hillclimb championship in early September. Remember when he smoked Adrien Costa last year in the Junior Worlds TT by nearly 1 minute?
James Oram for New Zealand had a breakthrough last year when he went 10th on the Ponferrada course and if he is on form, he could repeat that result however the talent in this year's field seems quite deep so perhaps a top 15.
Marlen Zmorka (Ukraine) has persevered through some intense personal grief with the situation in Ukraine to get back to some of his best form. Based out of Italy, the Ukranian has been competitive with Martinelli and Ganna in the time trials even beating them on multiple occassions. He was 2nd in the European Championships but has been known to drop the ball in Worlds TT.
Finally, the home nation brings Dan Eaton & Greg Daniel to the table. Dan Eaton, aka Swole, has stepped it up with Axeon this year and when he is on, he is on. He was 4th in the USA Pro Challenge time trial and could make the home team very happy with a nice top 10.
1. Mads Würtz (Denmark)
2. Max Schachmann (Germany)
3. Ryan Mullen (Ireland)