Saturday, June 4, 2016

Zavod Miru U23 Stage 2: Up to Dlouhe Strane

On a stage that was set for fireworks, the riders lit the fuse and the Zavod Miru U23 exploded on the Dlouhe Strane climb. With Adrien Costa sidelined and other riders not firing on all cylinders, it was a diminutive Frenchman that took the race by the neck and took the biggest win of his fledgling career.
A breakaway of about 10 riders got away early in the race but were never given much of a gap by the peloton, with the Germans and Slovenians setting a strong tempo all day as they had missed the move. This group lasted for over half of the stage but was taken back by the first climb to Hrabesice, where Casper Pedersen took the KOM.

Onto the Dlouhe Strane, the peloton had come back together into a fairly large group but that was to be short lived. From here, I will get many of the details from James Knox, who was in the heat of the action on the climb.

The French took it at the bottom of the climb and then the Russian (Cherkasov or Nych) took a big turn on the front. The group was brought down to 16 riders but names such as Lennard Kämna and Lennard Hofstede were nowhere to be seen. Attacks began to happen and whittled the group down until an attack from Swiss Kilian Frankiny made a group of four including him, Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB), Edward Ravasi (Italy) and David Gaudu (France). Knox said, "I was stuck in between(the two groups) for a bit, before sitting on a group, who never committed to bringing them back."

After the leading group exchanged barbs, it was the tiny Gaudu, who weighs probably no more than 55 kilograms, who launched the winning attack with 500 meters to go as the climb leveled off near the reservoir at the top of Dlouhe Strane. It seemed as if Geoghegan Hart could have gone with him but the Hackney rider admittedly hesitated and that made the difference.
Gaudu took out 7 seconds from Geoghegan Hart plus another from Frankiny and Ravasi. Behind, Knox got a little frisky, "I hit my group after a couple of attacks and was in between the (two) groups (at the finish)." Knox finished 5th, 14 seconds back ahead of a group containing Michal Schlegel (Czech Republic), Giovanni Carboni (Italy), Aurelien Paret-Peintre (France), Bjorg Lambrecht and Steff Cras (both Belgium).

Gaudu took 10 bonus seconds at the finish to move his overall lead on Geoghegan Hart to 11 seconds, which will make the task tomorrow of overhauling him on the fairly short finishing climb quite big.

Gaudu didn't come here as an unknown exactly and it remains to be seen if he can finish this race off. What can be taken away now is his acceleration. Knox can to attest to it from l'Isard, "He seemed to be able to accelerate again and again and destroyed our group on the bottom of Ax 3 Domaines." He attacked the group multiple times today and finally made on stick. Like speed, acceleration isn't something that one can simply teach. It can be improved but a natural acceleration is not something everyone is blessed with.

The race finishes up tomorrow with a climb to the Hotel Priesnitz in Jesenik.

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