It's been two weeks since the Tour de l'Avenir has ended and I am just getting around to writing this. I have been trying to think of something meaningful to say. With social media these days, it seems like many people only really care about the information that is slapped together and sent out rather than stuff that has some actual thought behind it.
The mountains really make the race at l'Avenir and they certainly didn't disappoint this year. David Gaudu and Edward Ravasi separated themselves with the attack on stage 6 and they seemed fairly even through the rest of the race, with Gaudu having a little bit more top end at the end of the climbs. It seems that Adrian Costa was just a little bit off his best form but in only his first U23 season that has been fairly big in terms of racing days, a podium here is exceptional as he separated himself from the others behind him.
Tao Geoghegan Hart was good but was another that didn't seem to be on his best form as he wasn't as sharp. Perhaps a chink in the armor that he could be limited in the higher mountains compared to some others like Gaudu, Costa and Ravasi? SKY will turn him into a robot next year and their track record with developing young talent is so-so at best really compared with some teams like Movistar and Etixx-OPQS. Geoghegan Hart should be put on a one-day/Ardennes track but seeing as SKY's focus on those races is middling at best, it is a shame he might not shine in those races doing forward.
Hot take - Pavel Sivakov is the most versatile rider in the U23 ranks. He can ride the classics very well as he was a contender in the Paris-Roubaix and was 2nd in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He was up there in sprint stages in the Tour de Berlin. Now in both Valle d'Aosta and l'Avenir, he has shown that he is able to climb some big mountains fairly consistently for a rider that can also do the above as well. With a year under his belt, next year could be very interesting for Sivakov.
It was also announced that l'Avenir will again expand with a 9th stage being added, which will make it the first time since 2009 that the race will be this long. The race course is not finalized as a start in Bretagne is being tossed around, which would certainly be a nice change of pace. I am all in favor of adding some legitimate sprint stages to this race and see teams bring in their best sprinters along with their best climbers. Obviously with small teams, selections are pretty tight but if there were say, 4 stages that could be designated for sprinters and 2 or 3 big stages for climbers, we could see a rounded roster as opposed to the teams in recent years which have been more or less all climbers and perhaps a big engine time trial rider.
It just comes down to my point that sprinters need their chances too and that includes on the biggest stages. While some people might salivate for climbers showdowns, I really would love to see Pascal Ackermann go up against Enzo Wouters, Chris Latham, Kristoffer Halvorsen, Cees Bol, Consonni/Minali/Maronese along with some other pros that are still U23. Well that would basically be a preview for this year's Worlds in Doha but one or two stages in the U23 circuits biggest event doesn't seem like enough.
Anyways, I think it is high time that I start writing more on here...