Monday, March 25, 2013

Revelations from Normandie, Alentejo and more

After a busy week of racing in Normandie and Alentejo along with multiple one-day races peppered throughout Europe, it is easy for your eyes to get glazed over when you look at results, especially if you are unfamiliar with riders and races. You probably ask "What the hell am I looking at?", as you scroll through a stage race in rural France not even knowing what the hell you are looking for. So let us sift through the results of the past week so we know who to focus on going forward.

Tour de Normandie

  • Silvan Dillier, the overall winner of the Tour de Normandie, is definitely a talent for the future but where he will end up specializing is still to be determined. Dillier (BMC Devolopment) comes from a track background and still rides for the national team pursuit squad. His biggest moment before this was his stage win in the Tour de l'Avenir last year, where he won the first stage out of a 4-man breakaway and then held the yellow jersey for the next two days. His performance in Normandie showed consistency above all as he stayed out of trouble and kept himself well place, especially on stage 4, where he took the leader's jersey from Alexander Blain (Raleigh). His win did involve a bit of luck as well like most stage race wins, i.e. keeping out of trouble and not getting caught out of sprint

  • Arguably the strongest rider of the week was Dylan van Baarle, who finished in 3rd place overall just 8 seconds back. Van Baarle (Rabobank Development) was the victim of poor timing as his prologue was ruined by rain thus pushing him well down the leader board where typically he would be in the top 10 and then got tangled up in crashes on stage 1, which saw him lose a further 30 seconds. Van Baarle showed resilience by attacking on multiple stages, taking time on stage 4 and through time bonuses. Couple this with his two wins so far this season in Ster van Zwolle and the Dorpenomloop, van Baarle has shown himself to be the most consistent and impressive rider so far this early season.

  • Another standout from Normandie was young Swede Frederik Ludvigsson. The younger brother to Argos-Shimano's Tobias, Ludvigsson put in an impressive performance for an 18-year old as he went 5th overall, losing only minimal time over the course of the week. With Normandie being geared towards sprinters and flatlanders, Ludvigsson performed beyond his years, especially as he is not a sprinter of flatland specialist. 
  • Other good performances were put in by Leopard-Trek's 23-year old Fabio Silvestre, who went 4th oveall, won a stage and only lost time on one stage, the stage that saw him lose his race lead after being separated from the leading group. Rick Zabel (Rabobank Development) got his 1st win of the year but it is still remained to be seen if he is destined for the bunch sprints like his father. Tom 'Scud Missile' Scully (Raleigh) won the prologue and after having an up and down year with the Chipotle squad last year, he got this season off on the right foot.

Volta ao Alentejo

  • Jasper Stuyven...what is there to say? He was on his A-game all week and along with some stellar team work by his Bontrager squad, he could do no wrong. While he only won one stage, he used his sprinting abilities to gain time at time bonuses and went all out on the two uphill finishes, where he finished 7th in both stages. Where does he go from here? He is trying to peak for the U23 Ronde van Vlaanderen Nations Cup in two weeks time and his future career while most likely see him focusing on the classics but with a mainly flat parcours and no TT to deal with, a stage race such as this is perfect for Stuyven. This would be a good place to mention his Bontrager teammate Tanner Putt, who rode strong the first two stages before crashing on the third stage.
  • Chad Haga (Optum) and Antonio Carvalho (LA-Aluminium) are both a bit older but at 24 and 23 years of age respectively, they are young enough because they both put in great rides. Haga, who is in his 2nd season with Optum, is a stage racer in training that likes a TT but instead he used his climbing and all-around skills to finish 2nd overall with three top-5 stage finishes. Carvalho won the final circuit stage around Santiago do Cacém with an impressive uphill sprint that saw him pass Haga with less than 10 meters left in the race.
  • Karel Hnik (Etixx-iHNed) won the mountains classification after going bananas on the last stage, taking the first four KOM sprints over his rival Daniel Silva (RadioPopular-Onda). Hnik is a converted cyclocross racer who, up until now, has never put much effort into the road. Perhaps this is a new beginning? 


  • Nicola Gaffurini (Delio Gallina) won the Piccola Sanremo in Italy, his 2nd win in two weekends. The race was truly epic with rain, wind, cold and even snow on the Vigo climb on the backside of the circuit. 3rd place finisher Davide Orrico, who has been on great form of late, put in another great performance. Team Food Italia teammates Calvin Watson and Davide Martinelli went 4th and 5th.
Cristian Cañada
  • Cristian Cañada won the Subida a Gorla (Gorlako Igoera), a Basque U23 race with more predictive capabilities than you might think. The race finishes on a super steep climb, which brings out some of the best climbers in Spain. Brace yourself for this list of past winners...Cuesta, Sastre, Garate, Purito Rodriguez and Contador just to name a few. So I think it is important that we remember Cristian Cañada's name.

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