Monday, June 24, 2013

National Championships Review

It has been a busy weekend around the cycling world because for nearly every big cycling country, the weekend before the start of the Tour de France signals the national championships all over Europe, Asia and beyond. U23 national championships do not always fall on the same weekend as the professionals and occasionally are stand-alone events, such as is the case with Italy.


Dylan Van Baarle blew away the competition (Photo:

Dylan van Baarle did the U23 double in the Netherlands this season after pulling away on the brutal Kerkrade circuit to take an impressive victory to compliment his national TT victory in Schoonebeek earlier this month. Van Baarle and teammates Mike Teunissen and Gert-Jan Bosman broke away in the middle of the race and got an advantage on the peloton. Bosman was dropped with a few laps left while Teunissen and van Baarle plowed on, the gap ballooning. On the final lap, it was van Baarle leaving Teunissen on the climbs and taking the victory solo by 49 seconds over his Rabobank teammate. Behind, it was upstart Joey van Rhee (Metec) who was able to gain the final podium position over Bob Schoonbroodt (De Rijke-Shanks) after the two had broken away from the decimated peloton.


Andrea Zordan (Zalf-Euromobil) backed up his impressive results so far this season with another sprint win in a rather familiar way. It was a group of eight that decided the sprint finish in Felino and all the more familiar, it was Zordan and Colpack rival Davide Villella who were the leading two with 200 meters to go. Zordan and Villella had sparred earlier this season with Zordan taking every occasion. Zordan lead out the sprint and Villella, who was directly in his wheel, could not come past him and was once again beaten. Managing 3rd in the sprint was Alberto Bettiol, the jack-of-all trades 19-year old who was 4th overall in the Coupe des Nations Ville de Saguenay.

Davide Martinelli (Food Italia) won the Italian U23 TT championship in May.


Photo: Dariusz Krzywański
After his breakaway stage 1 win in the Thüringen Rundfahrt, Etixx-iHNed's Lukasz Wisniowski did what Dylan van Baarle and Lasse Norman did in their respective countries this season and pulled off the U23 National Championship double. Wisniowski won his TT by 14 seconds over first year U23 Pryzemyslaw Kasperkiewicz and followed this up by a solo victory in the RR over Wociech Migdal. Frankly, I would have been more surprised if Wisniowski didn't win. There are no Polish U23 riders that are close to his talent lever at the moment.


Former junior standout Rafael Reis had been tapping into his potential recently and at the Portuguese National TT, he blitzed the competition by winning with a 2 minute margin over 2nd place Victor Valinho (Loulentano). The Ceramica Flaminia rider has been doing better this season after having some teething problems in his first two U23 seasons. Reis was 5th in the Tour de Berlin TT but he has not had many chances to race, as I think he only has one racing day with his Ceramica Flaminia team.

The RR was decided by a small breakaway ahead of a larger peloton and it was Valinho who was able to escape from António Barbio and Federico Figueiredo and take a solo victory. The bunch came in at 18 seconds back for 4th place with Daniel Freitas taking the sprint and Rafael Reis finishing in 7th.


Photo: ROTH/

After a disappointing Thüringen Rundfahrt, Jasha Sütterlin had a big chip on his shoulder for the German National TT Championship, a race where he was the defending champion. With his main competition, teammate Maximilian Schachmann, out because of an injury from the Thüringen Rundfahrt, Sütterlin was determined to blow out his competition. In this race, he definitely met expectations.

Sütterlin blasted around the course in Wangen im Allgäu, just northeast of Lake Constance, with an average speed of nearly 49 km/h and beat his closest compeition, Nils Politt of Team Stölting, by 48 seconds on the 25 kilometer course.

With Silvio Herklotz winning the German U23 Championship on the weekend before the Thüringen Rundfahrt in Ilsfeld, a contingent of U23s lined up on the Wangen im Allgäu course on Sunday to contest the elite men's championship and vied to be the first non-professional U23 since Gerald Ciolek in 2005 to win the elite men's race (sorry Martin Reimer). On the cool day that went from cloudy to torrential rain, it was a select sprint finish that decided the race. While Andre Greipel took the sprint win over Gerald Ciolek and John Degenkolb, three U23 riders crossed the line in the lead selection of 18. Herr Herklotz was an impressive 7th in the sprint while Heizomat teammates Raphael Freienstein and Johannes Weber finished 9th and 11th in a group that consisted of nearly all World Tour and Pro Continental riders.


French amateur elite champion Cedric Delaplace (Photo: PQR/Ouest France)
France is weird. France decided to hold a national championships for elite men, elite and U23 women and amateur men all on the proper weekend and then hold the championship for l'Avenir (promises), which consists of U23 men and junior women and men in August. For the amateur men event, it plays out like many Coupe des Frances races with a mixture of young and old that keeps things interesting.

This edition was no different and saw a breakaway attempt make it to the line with a cheeky solo move to seal the deal. With Clement Saint-Martin (Top 16) up the road, it was Cedric Delaplace (Sojasun Espoir-ACNC) who lept away from a chasing group of 4 others with two kilometers to go and bridged to Saint-Martin. Spending a mere 20 meters on his wheel, Delaplace put a surge in with 500 meters to go and dropped the Angouléme-based rider and took the win by five seconds.

The Delaplace surname might sound familiar to you because Anthony Delaplace, Cedric's brother, is a pro with Sojasun and will be starting his 3rd consecutive Tour de France, an impressive feat for one who is just 23 (will turn 24 in August). Cedric just finished his exams for his degree in Business Management from Caen Basse-Normandie University and is hoping to find a stagiaire role this season and then give it his all for a professional contract.


  • Luka Pibernik pulled off a shocker in Slovenia as he beat out Matej Mugerli and Jure Golcer for the Slovenian Elite Men's RR title. Pibernik, Mugerli and Golcer were apart of a group of seven inlcluding Matej Mohoric (Sava), Kristjan Fajt (Adria Mobil) and Blaz Jarc (NetApp-Endura). The breakaway began to crumble in the latter stages of the race and Pibernik, Mugerli, Golcer and Mohoric were the only ones left to contest the finish. On the steep run-up to the finish, it was the powerful Pibernik who easily sprinted away from Mugerli and Golcer to take the elite title while Mohoric was close behind. Pibernik now owns both the Elite and U23 National Championship jersey and will be in the white, blue and red year around
  • While the Elite men's result was sprinted out between Matt Brammeier and Philip Lavery, the race for the U23 Irish crown was being settled in the middle of the pack in a tight sprint. Sprinting for 13th-15th places, it was AnPost-ChainReaction rider Jack Wilson who took the sprint over young Cormac Clarke and Conor Dunne (VL Techniks), who is still rebounding from a broken elbow in the An Post Ras.
  • Spain had both their U23 TT and RR this past weekend with some new names getting big wins. The former junior and U23 Spanish TT champion Mario Gonzalez Salas had a fabulous weekend. The Cafes Baque rider won the U23 RR on Friday with an impressive breakaway with Basque rider Beñat Txoperena and won the two-up sprint for the win. Friday saw Gonzalez go 3rd in the TT behind Alberto Just, the Champion of Aragon in the RR two years running. Just was just able to hold off last year's U23 TT champion, Marcos Jurado of Seguros Bilbao, by 8 seconds on the challenging course around Bembibre.
  • Simon Yates continues his impressive season by being the best U23 in the British Elite RR Championships in Glasgow on Sunday. After finishing 10th overall at the Thüringen Rundfahrt, which concluded last weekend, Yates spent the majority of his day in a chasing group behind a World Tour dominated breakaway. In the end, Yates managed 8th overall, finishing with NetApp rider Scott Thwaites, but he was nearly 5 minutes clear of 2nd place in the U23 category, which went to his 100% ME teammate Owain Doull.

    The British U23 TT title went to Sam Harrison, who defended his title from last year with aplomb by beating Joseph Perrett by 23 seconds on the 35km course. Harrison is a fixture on the track and has mixed in the the British team pursuit squad.
  • Other Champions include: Tom Skujins (Latvia RR), Andzs Flaksis (Latvia TT), Josef Cerny (Czech Republic TT), Michael Boros (Czech Republic RR) Roman Katyrin (Russia RR), Alex Kirsch (Luxembourg RR), Antoine Duchesne (Canada RR)
Well that should be a good start for everyone and if you are more curious, results are everywhere. The U23s will be ramping up their prep for July, which include the Vuelta a Comunidad Madrid U23, Giro Ciclisto della Valle d'Aosta Mont Blanc and the European Championships.

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