Thursday, April 4, 2013

Silvio Herklotz: The German Wunderkind

Bridging up to the breakaway riders at the GP Palio del Recioto, Silvio Herklotz decided that he wasn't going to wait around for his companions to make the race. Herklotz took of on the descent, riding like a man possessed and taking incredible chances to try and secure the victory; chances that would catch up with him on the last descent. Going into the final left-hand bend at nearly 80 km/h, Herklotz hit a wooden pole and went skidding out. Bruised and bloodied, he immediately hopped back on his bike and attempted to salvage the victory that was assuredly his. Herklotz was joined by 8 chasers, including noted sprinter Caleb Ewan. He led the sprint out from the front with 250 meters to go but Ewan was able to over power him. While Silvio might have had a sour taste in his mouth over getting 2nd, duplicating his result from the day before at the Giro del Belvedere, there is no denying the immense talent that the young man from Berlin possesses.

Born in Berlin in May, 1994 and living in the suburb of Mahlow, Herklotz began riding when he was only 9 years old and quickly took to racing. At 12, he won Berlin's prestigious International Kids Tour in the U13 category, a race won by the like of John Degenkolb. He would go on to place 2nd overall in the following two years in the same race in the U15 classification, being beaten by Ruben Zepuntke (now Rabobank Development) and Maximillian Schachmann (Thüringer Energie). Other riders that have previously won the U15 classification there include Roy Sentjens, Oscar Gatto, Degenkolb and Mads Christensen. Also from a young age, Herklotz was active on the cyclocross scene; racing on the Deutschland-Cup circuit along with local Berlin races. From 2008 to 2010, he won the Deutschland Cup overall for U15 (2008) and U17 (2009-10) racers along with his first national title in 2010 in the U17 (Debutant) Category in Magstadt for his RSV Werner Otto Berlin club.

His first season in the juniors started out incredibly well as Herklotz rode the World Cup circuit in the 2010/11 cyclocross season where he was twice in the top ten in World Cup races, finished 8th at the World Championships in Sankt Wendel and won the German junior title. While he experience great success in 'cross, he had always been focused on the road, where his lanky body was suited to climbing and time trialling. He won the time trial at the Juniors Peace Race, beating Danny van Poppel (now Vacansoleil) and Alexis Gougeard (vice-champion in French U23 TT last year). In part to a strong time trial, Herklotz won the overall at the Drei Etappen Rundfahrt Frankfurt, one of the most prestigious junior stage races, where he beat riders such as Ivar Slik (now Rabobank Development).

Cyclocross again proved to fruitful for the young German in the 2011/12 season as three times he came 2nd place to the freight-train that is Mathieu van der Poel, the now two-time world champion. Herklotz finished 5th overall in the junior World Cup overall rankings after finishing 7th at Worlds along with another German title. This would be his adieu to cyclocross racing because his eyes were now fully trained on the road.

Herklotz and his former 'cross rival Quentin Jauregui (France) went head-to-head at the GP Général Patton in Luxembourg, with Jauregui beating Herklotz by two seconds on the first stage and just as much in the overall. After experiencing an off day at the first stage of the Giro della Lunigiani, Herklotz went on a rampage and won the next three stages, which pushed him up to 2nd overall and secured him the points and mountain classifications. There were no sprint stages either. Each stage involved Herklotz breaking away from the peloton and taking wins in breakaways. This attacking nature is one of the major characteristics of Herklotz' riding style. He isn't a rider that looks out of control when attacking either. His pedal stroke is smooth and his upper body is still with all of the power going directly into the pedals. It is easy to draw comparisons to another German rider that was highly touted at a young age. I don't like saying riders "resemble so-and-so" because I always think that sets them up for failure but coming out of the junior ranks, it is hard not to look to Jan Ullrich when you see Silvio Herklotz. Perhaps Ullrich was a bit different type of rider and had more raw power but I still think that they are comparable.

Moving into this season, Herklotz transferred to the Stölting-Ruhr team led by Jochen Hahn, who specializes in nurturing young talent and in the past, he coached riders such as Linus Gerdemann and Gerald Ciolek. Also taking on Hahn as his personal coach, Herklotz had a very solid winter training that put him on line for a big season. Herklotz had a sojourn with cyclocross as he went on to finish 3rd in the German U23 championships.

His 2013 season has gone incredible for a rider his age. I have written about him a lot so far this year simply because of his results. In the Istrian Spring Trophy, his first elite stage race, he went 2nd in the prologue and 3rd on the queen stage on the way to 4th overall behind racers such as Matej Mugerli and Patrick Sinkewitz, both of whom have decades of experience. Just this week, Herklotz has been at it again at U23 races Giro del Belvedere and GP Palio del Recioto, where he attacked both races hard and came away with two 2nd places. Go to my write-up of both if your curious for more.

With the Toscana-Terra di Ciclismo Nations Cup stage race on tap for Herklotz, it will be interesting to see what he can do on a higher level with the best U23 talent around. It would be a big mistake if riders don't take notice to him because if they let him get up the road, he could be gone for good.

Silvio Herklotz

  • Mahlow, Berlin, Germany
  • Team Stölting-Ruhr Profi Radteam
  • Age: 18 (May 6th, 1994)
  • Height: 1.90 meters (6'3")
  • Weight: 68kg (150 pounds)
  • Strengths: TT, Stage races, hard one-day races

No comments:

Post a Comment