Tour de l'Avenir teams
Teams for the 50th edition of the Tour de l'Avenir were announced earlier this week. I tweeted about it earlier this week but there definitely was one major oversight. While the Czech Republic might not have the name recognition of some other countries, riders such as Petr Vakoc and Josef Cerny were robbed of a chance at the race after it was announced that the Central European country was robbed blind and defenestrated in favored of lower ranked Spain, Austria and Switzerland, who had not participated in any U23 Nations Cup races this year. Vakoc was ablaze in July after winning the Vuelta a Madrid, going 4th in the Czech Cycling Tour and 2nd in the European Championships RR and now he is screwed out of showing himself on a higher level.
Bontrager on the edge
Bontrager is facing demise after it was announced by DS Axel Merckx that the team would have to shutter if a new sponsor was not found. (Cyclingnews was late as ever in picking up the story but they are also the same people who called Lawson Craddock a "climbing specialist" so it doesn't surprise me. CN does some good work but they are off the pace sometimes.) Bontrager, which was formerly the official feeder team to Radioshack, has been an independent development squad for the last few years and has been one of the best U23 teams on the circuit; sending a good portion of riders to the World Tour. They are also at a major crossroad because if they do continue, they will be losing 8 out of their current roster of 13. Jasper Stuyven has signed with Trek while Lawson Craddock is rumored with Argos-Shimano. Past those two, Nate Brown, Antoine Duchesne, Andsz Flaksis, Gavin Mannion, Connor O'Leary and Nate Wilson are all in their last year of the U23s and would have to find new teams for 2014.
The UCI has been pushing teams to have an official development program and with Leopard-Trek shuttering after this year, the Trek WT team will be without an affiliate. These teams are not cheap either as Patrick Lefevere had to spend close to 1.5 million euro investing in Etixx-iHNed for this season after substansial UCI prodding. As of this year, there are 8 WT squads that had official development teams and the UCI wants that number grow.
-- In another unsurprising transfer and one that was called by me on EC, Nick van der Lijke is heading to Belkin for a neo-pro deal. While three of his Rabobank Development teammates were scooped up early, van der Lijke was still able to secure a WT ride with his home team after putting in strong GC performances all over the place including a recent win in the Kreiz Breihz Elites.
-- In an interview with Directvelo, Clement Chevrier announced that he was told a big fat NO by Ag2r La Mondiale and that they wouldn't be seeking his services for 2014. Chevrier, who has ridden for the Ag2r feeder team Chambery CF for the last three years, is looking for a pro ride for 2014 even though he has another year of eligibility in the U23s. After struggling with low body fat issues in the offseason, Chevrier has announced himself as the next big French climber this year with podium GC finishes in Ronde de l'Isard and Giro della Valle d'Aosta along with a strong ride in the Tour de l'Ain, which was his first UCI .1 race. Chevrier is good friends and training partner with current Ag2r wunderkind Romain Bardet and has been, as he puts it, learning a lot about the rigors of the professional life and what it takes to be on the pro scene.