It is January 20th and the UCI still has completely updated the list of continental teams. I'm trying to imagine if the NBA didn't release the roster of all of their teams or development teams until after the beginning of the season. Yet the UCI doesn't have a firm grasp on marketing for their stakeholders or in management practices. While teams are smart to get ahead of the game in announcing their riders, the UCI should still be responsible for getting this information together and made available before the season begins.
Vuelta a Tachira
The opening race in Venezuela looked like it could have been an upset win by U23 Jose Mendoza all the way up until the final stage of the race. Mendoza, from the small village of Las Mesas, which lies in the Tachira province in the extreme west of the country, was on a magical run through the first 9 stages that included two stage wins including an uphill sprint in La Grita.
On the 9th stage, chinks in the armor began to appear as Mendoza was tailed off near the end of the mountain top finish at Casa el Padre but held the overall lead. On the final stage to San Cristobal, the site of the 1977 World Championships, the dream went out the window as Mendoza lost a colossal 24 minutes and 32 seconds to finish 30th overall. Luis Mora turned out as the winner of the U23 classification after finishing 11th overall, 4'14" behind Costa Rican winner Joseph Chavarria. Chavarria is fairly young (born in 1992) and has done well domestically in Central and South America including 5th in the past two Vuelta a Costa Rica editions.
Hong Kong World Cup
Frenchman Thomas Boudat won the Men's Omnium and seems to have usurped Bryan Coquard as the pick for France for the Rio Olympics. Boudat beat out Olympic medal contender Lasse Norman Hansen while U23 World RR silver medalist Simone Consonni finished in the top 10. Boudat could be a medal contender in Rio as he was the 2014 World Champion in the discipline even though many current contenders were not present there. Hell, there are probably about 10 riders at a given time that could win a medal there so it will be interesting to see who gets the birth.
A very young Australian team pursuit team that was anchored by Miles Scotson had a big weekend by turning out some impressive times including a 3'56" in the quarterfinal. That is underlined by the fact that this is not their A team by any means so these demons are not holding back and would be very happy to take an Olympic spot. The team they beat for the gold was Denmark, who had another very young team that included two junior riders. Bronze went to GB, who brought their U23 squad along with former sprinter turned endurance rider Kian Emadi.
New Zealand Cycle Classic
Chris Lawless (JLT Condor) took a 1-2 with teammate Alex Frame to open up the New Zealand race with a circuit around Masterton. State of Matter-MAAP rider and Australian U23 criterium champion Jesse Kerrison took the final podium spot ahead of Dion Smith and former Drapac trainee Brad Evans.
While the World Tour teams are the main draw here, there are some younger riders that are invariably turning heads. With the Colombian contingent of Gaviria and Conteras carrying Etixx, Miguel Angel Lopez being a main player for Astana and Tour de l'Avenir winner Marc Soler being a possible contender for Movistar, there a few younger riders that are looking to shine at some point. While they both lost time in the opening team time trial, Brayan Sanchez (Jamis) and Vuelta a Colombia U23 winner Richie Carapaz (Strongman-Campagnolo) could shine in the mountains later on.
Tour Down Under
Sean Fucking Lake. That is all.
Tropicale Amissa Bongo Bongo Bongo
More towards the equator, racers from all over creation come to take part in some hot, dusty African racing. While Andrea Palini is currently cleaning up the race, there are a few promising young results including Abderrahmane Bechlagheme (Algeria), Belay Fisseha (Ethiopia) and current KOM leader Joseph Areruya (Rwanda), who was 2nd overall in his home tour back in November.
EFC-Etixx gets a boost
In case it was overlooked by some, EFC-Etixx, the former development arm of the Etixx World Tour Team before what is now Klein Constantia came aboard, is now teamed up with Trek-Segafredo as their development team. While comprised of all Belgian riders, they feature some strong riders such as Benjamin Declercq and Piet Allegaert.
News should begin pouring is as the tap of results is burst open and teams are getting close to their first events. Look to Espoirs Central either here or on Twitter for all of your news and (unsolicited) opinions.