Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2014 Devo Teams Transfer Recap

With the transfer season still acting at full capacity, development squads and continental teams that are chock full of young talent are announcing new signings and other teams are shuttering their doors at the end of the year. Let's take a recap to see some of these teams.

Argos-Shimano Development (new) (Country: Sweden?)

While cyclocrosser Lars van der Haar is the most publicized signing by the team, this team can be seen as a loose amalgam of Thüringer Energie and People4You-Unaas, both of which are shuddering at the end of the year. Jens Lang, the manager of Thüringer Energie, will be taking the helm at the new development team. Lang brings a lot of experience, having brought up Tony Martin, John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel just to name a few. People4You-Unaas is the team of Aike Visbeek, who is also a DS with Argos-Shimano. P4Y-Unaas was run under Visbeek's management company, Visbeek Cycling. The team ended after some sponsorship turmoil with the secondary sponsor, Unaas. In a series of stories by, sponsor Unaas Cycling, a Norwegian wholesale bike part company run by the two Unaas brothers, reportedly stopped paying in May of this year and instead pocketed the money for themselves. Then at the U6 Cycling Tour, one of the Unaas brothers, who was acting as a team mechanic, cleaned out of the trailer of all of the wheels, tires, tools, etc. To top it off, after the Tour des Fjords it is reported that the team truck, which was headed towards Stockholm, was stopped by a car on a highway near Oslo. The car, containing one of the Unaas bros. if my translation is correct, demanded the truck be cleared of its parts. Apparently some parts were taken but not all. So definitely some shady shit happened and Visbeek pulled out for 2014.

For 2014, three Thüringer Energie (Germans Jan Brockoff & Maximilian Schachmann and Kiwi Alex Frame) and three People4You-Unaas riders (Swedes Frederik Ludvigsson, Christian Bertilsson and Robert Pölder) join the team. Interesting bit I was told about Pölder's signing was that his father was a bigwig in the former Cykelcity team and is buddies with Visbeek. While Pölder is a very hard worker and can't be slammed too much, there was definitely some nepotism happening.

There were three more signings for the team in Danes Kristian Haugaard & Matthias Rask along with Belgian Jenthe Biermans. Haugaard is a transplant from Leopard-Trek and will be out of the U23 ranks next year, along with Pölder, Bertilsson and van der Haar. Rask and Biermans are transitioning from the junior ranks. Rask is a strong TTer and had success in flat to rolling stage races and Biermans is the current junior champion of Belgium and winner of the Ronde van Vlaanderen Juniors, along with other strong stage racing results.

The team currently has 6 U23 riders, just enough to enter most U23 races, and will most likely have a healthy diet of 2.2 and 1.2 races, a bit like Etixx-iHNed this year. Ludvigsson will be the leader in the stage races while Schachmann and Rask are strong TTers and Haugaard is a strong rouleur that does well in the classics but can climb well too (l'Avenir KOM winner).

Also, unless they sign more riders, the team will have to be registered in Sweden due to UCI rules where a continental team must register in the country where a majority of riders are from.

Bissell (formerly Bontrager) (Country: USA)

Axel Merckx's squad will be back once again for 2014. After an agonizing few weeks after announcing that the team would shutter unless they found a new sponsor, Merckx will once again run a cosmopolitan squad with riders from the Denmark, France, Germany, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. The team will lose 8 riders to do either signing a pro contract or aging out. The core riders that are left from the 2013 team include Tanner Putt, James Oram, Ryan Eastman, Greg Daniel and Alexandre Darville.

Bissell added some firepower by signing climber Clément Chevrier (Chambery CF), Nicolai Brøchner (Bissell-ABG-Giant), and Ruben Zepuntke (Rabobank Development) along with juniors Tao Geoghegan Hart, Nathan Van Hooydonck, Geoffrey Curran. Chevrier is one of the best U23 climbers going right now and had been hoping to turn pro for 2014 but will be back for more in the U23 ranks next year and will be looking towards the Tours of California, Utah and Colorado, all of which have some proper mountains. Zepuntke adds some needed rouleur power to the team while Brøchner is an up and coming sprinter.

Bissell hit the motherload by signing Geoghegan Hart, Van Hooydonck and Curran right out of the junior ranks. Hackney-bred Geoghegan Hart was electric this year by finishing 3rd at Junior Paris-Roubaix and then winning the overall classifications at Tour of Istria and Giro della Lunigiana. He does well in the hills and on any difficult course. He was set to have a big ride at Worlds but a snapped chain in the finale derailed those efforts. Van Hooydonck, nephew of the double RvV winner Edwig, only had one win this year (Keizer der Juniores overall) but he was all over the top 10 this year (17 major races, by my count) and at this point is an all-arounder but looks to be a classics man in the making. He was 2nd in the Junior Paris-Roubaix, 2nd in the National TT, 3rd in Philippe Gilbert Juniors, 4th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen Juniors, 4th in GP General Patton and top three on every stage of the Keizer der Juniores before winning the overall. Curran is an American talent that has been all over European podiums the last two years as a junior. Last year, Curran won Drei-Etappen-Rundfahrt overall and placed high in Course de la Paix (5th), Tour de l'Abitibi (3rd), GP Rüebliland (4th) and the Rothhaus Regio Tour (7th). This year, Curran won the Tour du Pays de Vaud and was 2nd in Trofeo Karlsberg and had some good results domestically with a 4th overall in the Pro Men's Sea Otter stage race and Tour of the Gila (Cat 1-2). He can definitely be developed into a stage racing threat.

The team also adds Tanner Putt's brother, Chris, and Keegan Swirbul, a MTB rider and national champion skier who is most known for beating Lance Armstrong in a MTB race as a junior. Chris Putt did well at U23 Nationals this year while I'm still scratching my head at Swirbul because I don't know if he has raced more than a handful of road races but I don't his signing was on just a hunch.

Even though Bontrager lost a lot, they have reloaded yet again and should be one of the best domestic teams in the cycling world next year. Some of the team's existing riders will need to step up as there is an influx of junior and new talent but guys like Chevrier, Geoghegan Hart and Van Hooydonck will be fun to watch in American races.

BMC Development (Country: It's Complicated)

While the team was originally supposed to be a continental squad for 2013 but instead stayed amateur but took on an international program that included races in North America, Europe and Asia. The team was made of a majority of Swiss riders but with Silvan Dillier off to the pros, it remains to be seen what the composition will be.

Two signings the team have made include climber Dylan Teuns and Johan Hemroulle. Teuns loves the mountains and has done well the last two years in Ronde de l'Isard, going 4th (2012) and 3rd (2013) overall. He needs to be more consistent because he has some flashes of brilliance and BMC has a pretty big budget so he could grow within their system. Hemroulle is the son of the head soigneur, Patrice Hemroulle, so I think we can put 2 and 2 together about why he was signed. Johan is pretty good rider but his results are a bit thin compared to others so unless he has some amazing test results, there was some nepotism.

Anyways, I'll update again when more of the roster has been announced.

Etixx-iHNed (Country: Czech Republic)

After a rough start to 2013 due to the team being confused about some pretty basic UCI rules, Etixx-iHNed took some good results and more importantly, graduated 4 riders to the pro ranks including Petr Vakoc and Julian Alaphilippe joining the OPQS World Tour team. While it might seem counter-intuitive for World Tour teams to fund development squads that eventually send riders to rival teams, it is still healthy for the sport. In a perfect world, teams might prefer a tiered racing system where you have the World Tour races and then you have "minor-league" affiliates that you could send riders to and from but that is an entirely different subject.

Etixx-iHNed, like Bissell, is losing a big chunk of its roster but unlike the American squad, Etixx is not strictly a U23 team and has a bit more talent to play with in terms of signings. In addition to Vakoc and Alaphilippe leaving, the team lost Louis Verhelst and Florian Senechal to Cofidis and Czech Tomas Koudela to the Austrian Continental team Arbö Gebrüder Weiss. Belgian Dieter Bouvry was let go by the team (a move that seemed to ruffle his feathers a bit i.e. deleted tweets) and he will be riding for the amateur EFC-OPQS next year.

For next year, the team gets a youthful injection. Young Croat Josip Rumac, who was at the OPQS Talent Identification camp this year, joins the team after a stagiaire role this year. Alvaro Cuadros, a Spaniard straight from Alberto Contador's junior team, was also identified by OPQS management this year. Cuadros had 8 wins on the Spanish scene this year and was 3rd in the junior National TT Championship.

Also joining the team for 2014 are Alexis Guerin, Paco Ghistelinck, Tim Kerkhof and Jan Hirt. Guerin, who rode for Entente Sud Gascogne and was a stagiaire with FDJ, is a strong TTer (6th, European U23 TT) and not too shabby climber (stage win at Ronde de l'Isard in 2012). Ghistelinck was a bit of a surprise to me because while his results are good, they aren't amazing but he did ride for EFC-OPQS. He had two wins in smaller kermises but his two best rides of the year were probably at the Zuidkempense Pijl (2nd) and the ZLM Tour Nations Cup (6th). Dutchman Kerkhof also rode for EFC-OPQS but had a better season in my opinion. He won the Essor Breton overall this year along with a stage win and finished 7th in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad U23. Hirt will be out of the U23 ranks next year but with the dearth of open spots on pro teams this year, he will ride the continental circuit again this year. To put it lightly, it must have been a punch in the gut for Hirt to still be on this level. Just look at his results from this year and you will see: 8th overall, Tour de Azerbaijan and a stage win; 2nd overall, Course de la Paix U23; 4th overall in Tour Alsace along with 3rd on the queen stage; 16th overall in the insanely hard Volta a Portugal; 7th overall, Settimana Lombarda and to cap it off a 12th place, front group finish in the U23 World RR Championship.

The team will remain Czech-based so I will not be surprised to see another Czech come on board. While Sam Spokes is the only rider as of now confirmed to return for 2014, more of the remnants from the 2013 squad will surely be back for another year.

Speaking of OPQS...

EFC-OPQS (Country: Belgium)

The amateur arm of the Omega Pharma-Quick Step conglomerate run by former pro Michel Pollentier has added a large amount after sending 6 riders to continental teams. Ghistelinck and Kerkhof left for Etixx-iHNed; Tom Devriendt, Gerry Druyts and Emiel Vermeulen are all headed to 3M and after some begging and pleading, Piotr Havik left for Rabobank Development. Also, in some rather surprising news, Kiwi Josh Atkins, formerly of Bontrager, is apparently retiring at year's end, at least according to

The team returns, among others, climbing talent Floris De Tier, David Desmecht, Maxime Farazijn, Daan Myngheer and Belgian U23 RR Champ Jens Wallays. Some older talent in Bouvry and Bert Van Lerberghe join while the team scored some prime juniors in Edward Planckaert (5th, Paris-Roubaix Juniors), Driedaagse van Axel winner Brent Luyckx and Piet Allegaert, who comes from the Avia-Crabbe team, which is in the OPQS pipeline. Allegaert was 3rd in the junior Belgian RR, 6th in Ronde van Vlaanderen, 3rd overall in the Oberösterreich Juniorenrundfahrt and provincial junior RR champ of West Vlaanderen.

All in all, EFC-OPQS had a pretty good offseason.

Hincapie Sportswear Development (Country: USA)

This team has been quiet so far, with one notable exception, this offseason. The team announced the signing of Toms Skujins, the Latvian rider that was one of many victims from the cycling crunch this offseason. Skujins, who won the Course de la Paix, finished top 10 in the Tour de l'Avenir and was 5th in the U23 Worlds RR just days after being assaulted by Davide Villella in the Ruota d'Or. It should be a good fit for Skujins and Hincapie and he should be able to take a leadership role if everything goes to plan.

An interesting tidbit about this squad is that George Hincapie seems to have big dreams for the squad. On Mike Creed's OpenMic, Hincapie mentioned multiple times that he wanted to see the team grow into, potentially, a World Tour team in the future. Hopefully Hincapie will still keep some sort of development team around but that is just a wish at this point.

Lotto-Belisol U23 (Country: Belgium)

Winners of the Top Competitie Teams Classification this year, Lotto-Belisol U23 is reloading after losing, most notably, Victor Campenaerts (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Stig Broeckx (Lotto-Belisol). Kurt van de Wouwer's ploeg might have had an even better haul of juniors than EFC. For 2014, 1st year espoirs will include: Mathias Van Gompel (winner, Philippe Gilbert Juniors and 3rd in European Championships), Dieter Verwilst (2nd in both the 2012 Ronde van Vlaanderen Juniors and 2013 Belgian National Juniors RR), climber Laurens De Plus and Massimo Vanderaerden, son of Eric Vanderaerden. Massimo, named after dad's former teammate Massimo Podenzana, hasn't had huge results but he definitely has pedigree, seeing as his grandfather, father, two uncles and brother all have been professional cyclists.

The team only has one non-U23 (climber Dimitri Peyskens) and returns stalwarts like Tiesj Benoot, Jorne Carolus, Frederik Frison, Louis Vervaeke and Xandro Meurisse. These are just the big names because the team has even more talent. While it might seem like I'm giving them a handjob right now, this Lotto-Belisol U23 team is better than a lot of continental teams. Add in the signings of climber Brecht Ruyters and TTer Ruben Pols from the defunct Ventilair-Steria squad and they won't miss a beat from last year.

Rabobank Development (Country: All Dutch, All The Time)

After getting rid of the German element this offseason, the Rabobank Development team will fall under the auspices of the KNWU (Dutch Federation) that will ironically include German Grischa Niermann. In any case, this team leviathan in the U23 world over the last decade but next year might be a transition year...maybe. The team unloaded Dylan van Baarle, Nick van der Lijke, Rick Zabel, Ruben Zepuntke, Daan Olivier, Jasper Bovenhuis, Marco Minaard and Lars van der Haar. While they lost that much talent, the team still looks good for 2014. Sticking around are Stan Godrie, Martijn Tusveld, Ivar Slik and most likely, current U23 World CX Champion Mike Teunissen.

The team also signed a truckload of Dutch juniors, which I profiled earlier this year in more depth. Piotr Havik comes over along with the sensation Derk Abel Beckeringh along with Timo Roosen and Jeroen Meijers, who both come over from De Jonge Renner.

What else is there to say about this team? When they produce results year after year without fail, it seems stupid to sit hear and say, "Well I don't know, they could go downhill this year..." because it would be total bullshit.

CULT Energy (Country: Denmark)

Over the last decade, Denmark always seems to have a "next big thing" in the U23 ranks but more often than not, the end up back in the continental ranks after biting off a bit more than they can chew. Mads Christensen, Thomas Vedel Kvist, Rasmus Guldhammer, Andre Steensen, Martin Mortensen, Martin Pedersen, Troels Vinther...and there are a few more. Obviously some are more dramatic falls than others but these are guys that were touted as the next big thing but couldn't cut it in the World Tour. No slight to them because the World Tour is not for everyone; it could have been because of the drugs, the suffering, injuries but whatever the reason, they are just apart of a trend.

CULT Energy is the evolution of the Glud & Marstrand team from years past and 2013 was quite a successful year for the team. While not a team strictly for developing riders, Michael Valgren and Magnus Cort were the headline acts for the Danish team while other young riders such as Ramus Sterobo and Jesper Hansen, who left in August to join Saxo-Tinkoff. With Valgren off to Saxo-Tinkoff, Cort will form the core of the younger riders along with Mads Würtz and now non-U23 Rasmus Sterobo. Two juniors join CULT in Michael Carbel (junior Danish RR Champ)  and Mads Pedersen, one of the best juniors in the 2013 class with 12 wins including the Junior Paris-Roubaix, Trofea Karlsberg, Course de la Paix and a 2nd at the World Championship RR. Also joining, on the youth side, include Emil Vinjebo, who finished 25th in the Post Danmark Rundt at just 19.

Remember those examples of Danish riders getting chewed up by the World Tour? Christensen, Mortensen, Steensen, Vinther and Lasse Bøchman will all be on the team for 2014. I assume they will give the youngsters some cautionary tales.

--Some other interesting news is that there will be four, maybe five, continental teams in Italy next year, an improvement from the pitiful one from 2013. Trevigiani will be going continental along with Team Idea and a team known as of now as "Team Cenghialta" as it is run by Bruno Cenghialta. Cenghialta was a DS with Acqua e Sapone and Alessio and when a rider, he was found to have a +50% haematocrit and linked to multiple doping cases. So we still have that bullshit happening.
Vini Fantini amateur is also going pro and merging with the Japanese Nippo team so it isn't known yet which country the team will register in. Swede Kim Magnusson joins along with young Austrian Daniel Paulus and Japanese Shiki Kuroeda.

--Oskar Svendsen will be joined at Team Joker by Odd Christian Eiking while Sondre Holst Enger will stay at Plussbank and Sven Erik Bystrom will stay at Øster Hus-Ridley. So you can't say, "Well what about Norway?"

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

U23 ABCs: E

Caleb Ewan (Australia - Jayco-AIS - 1994) @CalebEwan

Is it me or is Ruben Geerinckx (l) missing his front teeth?
Oh and Ewan is winning the 4th stage of the Thüringen Rundfahrt

With the hype that has surrounded Caleb Ewan since his junior days, it is easy to forget sometimes that he is just 19 years old and while he has signed with Orica-GreenEdge, people need to remember (looking at you CyclingNews) that he will not be joining the team until August as a stagiaire and then October as a full professional.

Ewan was a junior world champion on the track (omnium) and at just 17, he upset Allan Davis and Leigh Howard for two stage wins at the Bay Crits. His inaugural European campaign was filled with podium places, along with a couple wins, and culminated with a 2nd place in the junior worlds RR behind a solo Matej Mohoric.

While some Australians start the year off with a bang for nationals, Ewan won the Bay Crits opening stage along with the overall but then took Nationals easier than most in preparation for a long European season. Ewan started his Euro season off with a bang at the GP Palio del Recioto. After joining the early break and hanging on tough on the final climb with Luka Pibernik, Ewan latched on to the streaking chasing group that was going after Silvio Herklotz. After Herklotz crashed on a wet descent, a group of nine formed for a final sprint where Ewan bested a bloodied Herklotz and Pibernik. Ewan put up a similar result at La Cote Picarde, when he joined the late breakaway and out sprinted Sean De Bie and Simon Yates for the win.

Ewan notched up two stage wins at the Thüringen Rundfahrt but was beat on other occasions by Jan Dieteren (Ewan in 10th) and less so, for 3rd by Simon Yates (Ewan in 9th). After a stage win at the Tour Alsace, Ewan took the opening two sprint stages at the Tour de l'Avenir along with a 3rd on
stage three. Ewan finished off the year with an impressive climbing performance at the Firenze
Worlds where he attacked on the final climb of the Via Salviati but failed to bridge to Mohoric or
Louis Meintjes.

Ewan is going to be a fantastic sprinter no doubt. He reminds me of Cavendish in that he isn't the tallest and can get into a low tuck on the bike while sprinting. One thing he needs to work on is the number of DNFs that he gets himself. He had 7 DNFs this year and while at least one was due to a crash, that comes to somewhere around 12-15% of his starts ended up as a DNF. While I'm sure that
his endurance will continue to grow over the years, it is something to take notice to. Though at this point, I am just finding nits to pick. He is a beast.

Sondre Holst Enger (Norway - Plussbank- 1993) @sondreholstenge

Enger (far right) putting on a nice face in 2012 Tour of Norway
Photo via @TeamPlussbank

While some people went a bit out of control at the Tour of Norway and called him "the next Peter Sagan", it is time to bring them down to earth a bit. While I always detest when riders are referred to
as "the next whatever" , it really got under my skin when Enger was referred to as the next Sagan.
First of all, I have never seen him do a wheelie on the finishing straight. Second, Mr. Sagan has done some things that have not been seen since Sean Kelly.

Enger was a strong junior that had strong results of varied courses including the European Junior Championships in Offida (8th) and the World Junior TT Championships in Copenhagen (10th). Enger's first big senior result was when he was 4th on the opening stage of the Tour of Norway last year behind Jonas Ahlstrand, Alessandro Petacchi and Edvald Boasson Hagen.

After a slow start to this season, Enger finally came out during a week in Scandinavia where  he
scored two 6th places along with a 3rd place in the Ringerike GP. Where Enger got his Sagan comparison comes from his torrid late spring campaign. Starting at the Glava Tour of Norway, Enger was able to stay with the front groups throughout the week and chalked up four top-7 finishes along with a 4th place on the queen stage and a 2nd place on the final stage. It was an incredible performance for a 19-year old rider but it is important to remember that this race didn't have a lot of hills and sprinters are known for being able to show their talents at a younger age compared with climbers. Enger continued his hot form across the pond at the Coupe des Nations Ville de Saguenay. While he did not win a stage, Enger made the GC breakaway on stage 1 and gained enough time bonuses in the sprint finishes to overhaul Alexis Gougeard for the GC win.

Post CdN Saguenay, Enger went a big quiet compared to his earlier form and at the Arctic Tour of Norway, his best result was a 5th place in a sprint. At the Tour de l'Avenir, Enger went toe to toe with Caleb Ewan once and got his ass handed on the 2nd stage, settling for 2nd. Enger was able to get some revenge at the World Championships when he was able to stay with the front group over the final hills and beat Ewan in the sprint for the bronze medal.

Enger is a great talent and he should have a successful pro career but at this point, do not overhype him. He is great when he is on form but when he isn't on 100%, he isn't there in the bunch gallops or fades in the sprint. He is a big guy and will need some work to get over bigger hills consistently so he can compete with Ewan next year and in the future in the pro ranks.

Odd Christian Eiking (Norway - Bergen SK - 1994) @Oddeiking

Odd in Young Rider Jersey in Tour de Berlin
Photo via @Oddeiking

If he ever goes pro, Odd Christian Eiking will go down in cycling lore for having one of the most interesting names ever in the peloton. Messer Eiking had a few good results as a junior including 13th at the Junior Paris-Roubaix. This year, riding for Bergen SK along with Norwegian National Team, Eiking finished 2nd overall in the NorgesCup to Sondre Holst Enger and had two wins in Bergen and Trondheim rounds.

On the European circuit, Eiking put in some good rides. He made the decisive GC breakaway on stage 1 of the Tour de Berlin but after a good but not great TT, he finished the race in 10th overall.
His other notable result of the year was finishing 16th in the U23 World Championship RR, which was in the front group around names such as Ewan, van Baarle, Enger, Kudus...the cream of the U23 crop. Eiking has the talent in him so look for more of him next year, where he is slated to join the Joker team of Oskar Svendsen. On a side note, Joker will probably be riding new bikes next year, switching from Merida to Giant, reportedly.

The U.S. brings us two E's from two of the best development teams in the world in Bontrager (soon to be Bissell) and BMC Development. Ryan Eastman and TJ 'Timo' Eisenhart were two successful American juniors that have developed in two different ways.

Eastman (@RyEastman) will be entering his 4th year with Bontrager and while he doesn't have a huge amount of top results, he is one of the hardest working riders for the Bontrager squad and is known for his selflessness, slaying himself for others on his team. He has ridden strongly in Tour of California and Tour of Colorado, both of which he has finished twice, along with other races such as Tour of Utah and Tour de Beauce. 2014 will be a big year for him because while his hard work is very admirable, he will need to show his worth and perhaps nab a result to gain a pro contract.

TJ Eisenhart

Eisenhart (@tjeisenhart) took a different course this year and joined the BMC Development squad, which was new for 2013.  Eisenhart had impressive junior results and as a junior in 2012, he won the Tour du Pays de Vaud and Tour de l'Abitibi overall and was 3rd overall in Trofeo Karlsberg. This year, Eisenhart transferred to the U23 ranks with aplomb. Eisenhart rode well in GP Palio del Recioto and Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 and then came back stateside for the Tour of the Gila, where he rode to 26th overall. So nothing too exciting, yes? Eisenhart began to heat up mid-year when he finished 14th overall in Rondede l'Isard and 2nd in the youth classification behind Pierre-Roger Latour. He then went on to finish 6th in the Thuringen Rundfahrt in part to a strong TT and solid riding in the hills. He finished his inaugural U23 season by going 23rd overall at Tour de l'Avenir in support of USA National teammate Gavin Mannion. In all, it was a solid season for the Utah native and there are definitely big things to come for him. If he gets good results in the next few years, I bet five dollars that VeloNews will title an article "TJ 2.0".

Fun fact about Eisenhart...he started a small company last year, Panda Trinity.

Felix English (Ireland - Rapha Condor -1992) @FelixEnglish11

Many people might only recognize Felix English from his upset victory over Chris Hoy in the first round of the 2010 European Track Championships in Manchester. English had declared for Irish citizenship in 2010 in a hunt for the 2012 Olympics. While he didn't make the small Irish Olympic squad, English was able to make strides with career. The last two years English has been on Rapha Condor, which has a healthy diet of UK continental races along with some other European races. English got some good results this year during the Tour Series and other criteriums including a win in Otley. English had good rides in Boucle de l'Artois and Loir et Cher.

Now it is time to switch this series up...there are not a ton of E riders so I thought I would include some talent from the track and cyclocross disciplines.

On the CX side, we have Tijmen Eising and Yannick Eckmann.

Eising (@tijmeneising) is one of the worst stories right now because of an ill-timed firing that really should be illegal in the sport. This summer, Eising was informed by Sunweb-Napoleon Games dictator Jurgen Mettepenningen that his services were not wanted effective immediately. Dutchman Eising was saved by Metec-TKH to finish the road season but he has not raced at all this CX season. This is shocking because Eising has been in the top 10 in 3 of the last 4 U23 CX World Championships and was 4th last year in Louisville. While Eising would be racing with the elites now, it is sad to see the former junior world CX champion in this position. If anyone has more info, don't hesitate to inform me.

Eckmann at Louisville Worlds
Photo via @CyclingRox (used under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic)

Eckmann (@Eckmannia) is a rising star on the US CX scene and this year, he has been featuring more in the front groups. Eckmann might be recognized because of his dual citizenship, German-American, which saw him win the U23 CX Championships in America and then race for Germany in Louisville for Worlds. Eckmann, who has lived in America since 2004 (his father is the president of Pearl Izumi), will be eligible to race under American colors after 1/1/14, just in time for Worlds. Riding for Cal Giant-Specialized, along with his older brother Robin, who also races CX, Yannick has already scored 9 top 10's this year, which includes three local wins and a podium at a UCI race (3rd, Trek CX Collective Cup). He is the big favorite for the USA U23 crown this year and should be a top 10 favorite at Worlds.

On the track side, there is Australian Alexander Edmondson and GB sprinter Kian Emadi.

Edmonson (@alexedmo) is another Australian track prodigy that made the London Olympic team at just 18 years old as apart of the Team Pursuit alternate. Edmondson is the brother of racer Annette Edmondson and they were the first siblings to be on an Australian Olympic cycling team since 1976. Alex has three times been Australian champion in the Team Pursuit (South Australia) in the Elite ranks and was apart of the team that set the junior World Record in the team pursuit in 2011 that is still standing. In Minsk this year, Edmondson was apart of the World Championship Team Pursuit squad. While Edmondson will be focusing on the track until at least the 2016 Rio Olympics, he has been on a hot streak with the Australian domestic Euride team on the road this winter. Edmondson has won 6 times on the continental circuit this year, many of which were reduced sprints in breakaways, and has been on the overall podiums at the Tours of Gippsland, Great South Coast and Murray River.

Emadi (@kianemadi) is an emerging name in the GB track sprinting scene and is one of a few that is attempting to fill the huge hole that was left after Chris Hoy's retirement. Emadi was apart of the GB team sprint squad, along with Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes, that finished a dissapointing 6th in Minsk. Emadi has also been a bit of a kilo specialist and finished 4th in the World Championships though the discipline has gone down in recognition since it was chucked out of the Olympics. This summer, Emadi, along with Kenny and Matt Crampton, won the team sprint at a meet in Cottbus and the youngster won National Championships in the kilo and the team sprint most recently. Emadi has been described by British Cycling's Shane Sutton as a "long" sprinter, which suits him as the 3rd man in the team sprint and in the keirin. Emadi is still just 21 and by the time Rio rolls around, he should be primed to take on the German, French, Australians and Kiwis in the team sprint and perhaps an option for the keirin though Jason Kenny is still a viable option.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

U23 ABCs: D

As Great Britain continues to rise in the pro cycling scene and emerging as a dominate nation, the Olympic development system continues to churn out talent. While people go "OMG Yates Bros.", which I heartily agree with, don't forget about the others in that system. Coming off the velodrome, English-Welsh (Welsh-English?) Owain Doull has had an impressive year with front group finishes in the Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 and the ZLM Tour, two Nations Cup races, along with strong rides at the An Post Ras and Tour of Britain. He is a sprinter with a good kick on him that can get over a few bumps and the more he rides the road, the heads should turn a bit more every time he gets a chance. He is still a fixture on the track, having recently partnered with Mark Cavendish in a Madison in Gent. Doull was 5th this year in the World Championships in the Scratch in Minsk and with a participation in the Manchester World Cup forthcoming, he could see Olympic rings in his future.

Dibben winning the Omnium Scratch in Minsk (Photo:
Jon Dibben has made for himself as a road and track talent as a junior, taking a medal at the Junior World Championship Omnium (2nd) and going top 5 twice at the Junior Paris-Roubaix along with 5th at the Junior Worlds RR in Valkenburg. Dibben is another than has feet firmly in both the road and track, with Rio 2016 looking like the target. Dibben was 8th overall in the omnium in his first Elite World Championships in Minsk and won the scratch race. At just 19, he is one of Britain's best candidates to go for the omnium gold in Rio.

Sean De Bie (Photo:Wiki Commons)
Belgium…what is there to say that most people cannot say? They have one of the strongest cycling cultures on earth and mass amounts of talent are a byproduct of this. From his early junior days, Sean De Bie was seen as the next Tom Boonen by Belgian cycling and was set up for greatness. De Bie is a name synonymous with cycling in Belgium as he is related to World Champion Danny De Bie, national coach Rudy De Bie and his father, Eddy, was a professional in the 80's. Sean started as a cyclocross rider as a junior but quickly showed his talents were on the road, with wins across Europe. His U23 career started off slowly with his first big result coming in 2011 with a win at the Toscana Nations Cup in a sprint ahead of Youcef Reguigui and Alexey Lutsenko. 2012 started off very promising with a stage win and 5th overall at Triptyque Monts et Chateaux followed by a 2nd, behind a breakaway win by teammate Kenneth Vanbilsen, at Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 and a 4th place just days later at La Côte Picarde. While De Bie continued to impress through June, his season was halted by a nasty crash that put him out for the season. With a switch to Leopard-Trek for 2013, De Bie has a quieter early season but came out storming for April with three top 5 finishes in two weeks, including 4th at RvV U23, 2nd at La Côte Picarde and 4th at Arno Wallard. But past that? De Bie had one more bright spot on the season with a win at the European U23 Championships in the Czech Republic, where he outsprinted Petr Vakoc and Toms Skujins. De Bie had some good national results but after back-to-back rides at the Volta a Portugal and Tour de l'Avenir, De Bie was too tired for the end of the season and the World Championships, where he had been preselected earlier in the season to be a leader. While he has signed a neo-pro deal with Lotto-Belisol starting next year, I'm interested to see if De Bie can be one of the future Belgian stars or if injury and inconsistency will continue to plague him. De Bie is just one of a crop of 'D' Belgians…

Floris De Tier was trying to forge a career in cyclocross but in June, he announced that he would be quitting to focus on the road and transferred to EFC-OPQS. It was evident immediately that this kid had some talent. In his first major stage race, De Tier finished 18th overall at the Giro Ciclistico Valle d'Aosta. Later in the summer, De Tier went on to with the Tour de Namur and then capped off his season with a 5th place in the Paris-Tours Espoirs last weekend. De Tier still has one more year in the U23s and should be able to shop for a pro team next year. De Tier's EFC-OPQS teammates included Tom Devriendt and Gerry Druyts. Devrient clocked up 9 regional wins this season along with a 3rd place in the GP Stad Geel, a Top Competitie race. Team Director Wim Feys described Devriendt as the best sprinter he has ever had under him. Druyts clocked up 2 wins in Belgium but had more success on a larger circuit with a 15th overall at Tour de Normandie, a 10th at Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 and a 7th at the GP des Marbriers. Moreno De Pauw is better known for his exploits on the track but after a solid season on the road this year, he will be joining Topsport Vlaanderen in 2014. De Pauw won the 5th stage of the An Post Ras this year out of a group of favorites along with multiple top finishes on the Belgian amateur scene with his Rock Werchter squad. De Pauw will continue to dream for a spot in the Rio 2016 Olympics but while try to become more active on the road. Other Belgies of note include David Desmecht (23 podiums this year including 5 wins) and Gertjan De Vos (stage winner in Ronde de l'Isard.)

The first time that most people heard of Flavien Dassonville's name was during this years U23 World Championships when he attacked with teammate Julian Alaphilippe in the road race. Dassonville was eventually brought back but still managed to finish just behind the front group in 21st position. Dassonville, who rides for BigMat-Auber93, had a breakout season this year with a win in the French U23 RR, a stage win in Tour de Franche-Comte and just this last weekend, an impressive win in the Paris-Tours Espoirs, where he outsprinted breakaway companion Daan Olivier to take the win. Other 'D' Frenchman include Cedric Delaplace and Alexis Dulin. Delaplace won the French Elite Amateur RR Championship while riding for Sojasun-ACNC. Dulin was 6th overall at Tour des Pays de Savoie, after finishing 2nd on the final stage summit finish to La Toussuire behind Clément Chevrier.

Dall'Oste glistening in the Italian sun

Italy has Daniele Dall'Oste and Andrea Dal Col. Dal Col was the winner of the time trial in the 2012 Giro Bio, which got him some recognition. This year has been quieter for the Trevigiani product but he produced three regional victories and is set to join the remains of the Vini Fantini squad for next year, Team Yellow Fluo. Whoever came up with that name needs to be smacked. Daniele Dall'Oste comes from the Trevigiani brood as well and is seen as one of the future Italian stage racing talents. Strong in the TT as well as in the hills, he is still a developing talent who might need a few years in the pros before he will make an impact. Last year, a won the Giro del Belvedere along with the prologue in Valle d'Aosta and finished 4th overall in the Vuelta a Tenerife, which could be changed to 3rd because of a doping Jose Belda, who blew away the field. This year, Dall'Oste was 2nd overall in the Giro del Friuli, thanks to an impressive climbing performance on the summit finish at Matajur where he finished 2nd behind Jan Polanc and ahead of Riccardo Zoidl and Ivan Rovny. Dall'Oste was 8th overall in the mountain heavy Valle d'Aosta and followed it up with some top placings in the late summer including a 3rd at the GP Poggiana.

Two young Americans that broke into the U23 ranks this year were Greg Daniel and Alex Darville. Both were apart of the Bontrager Development Team though they were not on the UCI roster, which saw them spend the majority of their time racing in Europe with the USA National Team. Daniel, who was the junior National TT Champion last year, was able to win a stage in the Arden Challenge ahead of Simon Yates and finished 12th overall in the Kreiz Breizh Elites. Darville, who is a stronger sprinter, was 3rd this year in the U23 National Criterium Championships and finished 2nd behind a last gasp breakaway winner Kristian Haugaard in the opening stage of Fleche du Sud. Both should joint he UCI roster for Bissell next year though nothing is confirmed as of now.

I want to mention Tobias Derler because he was involved in a horrific crash in a Tchibo Cup race in Austria. The peloton was heading full-tilt into a downhill section of the course when unbeknownst to them, a car had gotten onto the course and was heading straight for them. The impract was gruesome and Derler was one of the two main casualties that had to be airlifted off the course and to the hospital. The young Austrian, who rides for the Tirol team, suffered multiple arm fractures, a broken cheekbone and a concussion but after only a few days in the hospital was allowed to return home. If he is able to continue cycling, Derler has talent to work with but it will be a long road back.

Dieteren beating van der Lijke and Zabel in Thüringen Rundfahrt (

While Rick Zabel was the best known German sprinter in the U23 ranks, Team Stölting's Jan Dieteren has set himself up as a prime suspect to take over that mantle next season. Dieteren has been in the U23 ranks for two years now and has struck gold twice at the recently defunct Thüringen Rundfahrt, including winning this year over Zabel and Nick van der Lijke. He is not in every sprint and does not like the mountains but he finished the season off strong with three top 10 finishes at the Kernen Omloop, Ruota d'Oro and the Münsterland Giro.

Before a few years ago, many who follow cycling could not name a single cyclist from sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa. MTN-Qhubeka has been breaking open the gap by signing riders from across the continent but sub-Saharan Africa is still rather dry in terms of cyclists. Dan Craven (Synergy Baku) is the most famous Namibian cyclist and has raced for mainly British squads, represented his country at the Olympics and sported the biggest unibrow this side of Colombia. This mantle of most famous Namibian cyclist could be taken by Till Drobisch, a young rider for the MTN-Qhubeka Development Squad and the UCI World Cycling Centre. Drobisch, the Elite and U23 TT and RR Nat. Champ, has been making strides with the UCI coaches and with a lighter race schedule, was able to finish the Tour de l'Avenir in 35th overall. He has two more years left in the U23s and hopefully he can see expanded racing time, which will help in his development.

With more development money coming into Eastern Africa, Eritrea is emerging as a new cycling power on the continent and pushing riders into Europe. Starting with Daniel Teklehaimanot, Eritrea now has 5 professional riders. Mekseb Debesay is another potential Eritrean talent. He was the winner of the Tour of Eritrea this year, ahead of Merhawi Kudus, but he does have a) much racing outside of Africa and b) not many results when he has gone to Europe. Perhaps MTN-Qhubeka will bring him in to their fold.

Antoine Duchesne has come on in recent years and has been Canada's brightest hope in the U23 ranks but unlike some of his Bontrager teammates, his team for 2014 is still not secured. Duchesne has had some good rides this year with 8th at Coupe des Nations Saguenay, a front group finish at Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 and a 5th at stage 4 of the Tour of Alberta, where Duchesne was able to slug it out with Cadel Evans, Tom Slagter, Simon Geschke and Ben Day in the breakaway that went to the line. Duchesne was also consistent this year, having only one DNF (last stage of Tour de Beauce along with most of peloton) in around 50 racing days.

Dunne after winning opening stage of AnPost Ras (Photo: Velovercors)

Conor Dunne is a big unit and the Irish-English rider has been making a name for himself in Belgium during his U23 career. Riding for VL Techniks, Dunne has proven himself to be good in the TT and on the cobbles. His shining moment of the year was in the AnPost Ras when he broke away with 20 kilometers to go on the first stage and beat out break mate Mike Northey for the victory. Dunne still has another year left in the U23s and is rumored to be joining AnPost-ChainReaction for next year, which will make him the tallest rider in the pro peloton. 

Dzamastagic heading to stage win in Rhône-Alpes Isère Tour
Mark Dzamastagic is a name most have not heard but there is a chance he could get by in the pros. The Slovene has won twice this year, a late break away win at the GP San Vendemiano along with a sprint victory at 4th stage of the Rhône-Alpes Isère Tour ahead of Clément Venturini and Europcar's Kévin Reza. Dzamastagic also came agonizingly close at the ZLM Tour, where he was involved with a last kilometer move with Yoeri Havik but didn't have it in the legs and settled for 2nd. While these results are impressive, pro teams only have so many spots and it looks unlikely that a spot will be available. This means yet another young Slovene, as there has been more than one, that will have to wait his turn on the sidelines and ride random 1.2 and 2.whatever races across Eastern Europe and Asia. It remains to be seen what will become of Dzamastagic.

The last two I have, since I seemingly cannot get enough of the D, are Norwegian Kristian Dyrnes and Dutchman Emiel Dolfsma. Dyrnes is good on a variety of courses; 10th last year at the L-B-L U23 and 2nd this year in the flat Himmerland Rundt in Denmark. Dyrnes finished his year with year with a 20th overall at the Tour des Fjords. Dolfsma is in his 1st full year on the road with Rabobank Development after focusing on cyclocross as a junior and early in his U23 career. He definitely has some promise and can get through tough races and with no DNFs this year, he is pretty consistent as well. With a full year on the road under him, Dolfsma should be one to watch for 2014.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

2014 UCI U23 Calendar

I am mystified about the U23 Nations Cup calendar. This is supposed to show the best of the best, in terms of U23 racers, and give riders from smaller nations a chance to compete on a higher level. While you want these races to be the best of the best, did the person at the UCI who is in charge of the scheduling for the Nations Cup have a lobotomy? There are 5 races on the whole U23 Nations Cup calendar and a grand total of one outside of Europe. When these 5 races include three one day races within a week of each other and two stage races, only one of which features all of the best talent. The supposed point of this tiny calendar is to let riders race for their nation but in 1.2U and 2.2U events, the are national teams that take part. While some national teams are cash-strapped, why not disband the Nations Cup and then have a ranking for all x.xU races, where riders can participate as either part of a trade team or as a part of a national team and collect points to an overall classification. This would allow other races in the Americas, Africa and Asia to turn into x.xU races, which would allow for a greater cultivation of talent and grow the sport. This is a rudimentary plan, which is apart of a greater manifesto when I come to power, but I feel like junior and U23 development of both sexes is underfunded and could be done much better by the governing bodies in cycling.

Like always, there are some cock-ups with the scheduling. Paris-Roubaix Espoirs, a race coveted by Belgians and Americans mostly, is back on tap for this year but the French teams, who prize the Coupe de France overall ahead of one-day races, will still have to rush to the race as Boucles de la Marne, a Coupe de France race for Division 1 amateur teams, is the day before. There is also the some double scheduling problems. The ZLM Tour, a U23 Nations Cup race, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 occur on the same day. I find this scheduling strange since the Nations Cup is supposed to be one of the biggest races of the season. On the stage race front, the Tour de Berlin and Course de la Paix (Peace Race) U23 run over the same weekend but this shouldn't be too bad as the Peace Race attracts the climbers and Berlin is a sprinter's paradise.

A big disappearance from the calendar is the Internationale Thürigen Rundfahrt, which featured as one of the biggest stage races on the U23 circuit.The state of Thüringia has shifted some of their policies and less money is being funneled into cycling. Thüringen Energie is looking more like it will cease to exist at year's end and the stage race, which is not listed on the current UCI calendar.

Additions to U23 calendar:
Paris-Roubaix Espoirs (6/1)
Tour des Pays de Savoie (6/19-22)
Volta a Portugal Futuro (7/17-20)

Wave Goodbye to:
Thüringen Rundfahrt
Paris-Tours Espoirs (most likely going amateur)

I created an iCal download, which lists all of the U23 races on the UCI calendar including continental championships. This doesn't account for other UCI races, namely 1.2 and 2.2 events, where continental and development teams will race because it would be a pointless exercise to list every race. If this is popular enough, I can do some other downloadable calendars closer to next year for other UCI races that these teams will target.

UCI 2014 U23 Calendar

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

World U23 RR Championship Recap

After finally coming to life at the Tour de l'Avenir, Matej Mohoric was able to pull away from a fatigued Julian Alaphilippe and then held off South Africa's Louis Meintjes to go back-to-back in his last two World RR Championships, after he won the junior World RR in Valkenburg last year. The results have been out there for days now and going through the race blow by blow is a bit redundant at this point but there is always time for some analysis.

Mohoric is talented but...

Mohoric doing some top tube descending

There is no denying that Matej Mohoric is talented and has the ability to go onto a big career in the pros but every time I think about his upcoming transfer to Cannondale, the more that I think that he could turn into a rider that 8 years from now will have questions of "he was a huge talent as a junior and U23 but hasn't panned out in the professional ranks." Mohoric was a phenom last year as a junior; winning 9 races in the last half of the season and soloing away on the Cauberg to take the World Title in the junior ranks. This year was slower with a quiet first half of the year but after a good Tour of Slovenia, Mohoric spent 7 years 2 weeks in Tibet at the Tour of Qinghai Lake, where he garnered 18th place on some of the highest altitude of any UCI race. This sparked a great Tour de l'Avenir, where Mohoric was in the break on the final two stages; gaining two 2nd places behind Simon Yates and Julian Alaphilippe, respectively.

Cue the Firenze Worlds and Mohoric was a dark horse but not one of the big favorites. Mohoric capitalized with some insane bike handling skills and thanks to a couple more kilos post-l'Avenir, some more top end power for the climbs. Mohoric churned a big gear, even on the steep climbs. It was an impressive display and he definitely earned the victory. But where will he fit in on the pro circuit at just 19? It would be dumb for Cannondale to race him more than 50-60 days. Past that, what kind of rider will he even be? There have been plenty of young phenoms that plateau early and never hit the heights they reached at a young age. Even more so, there is a lot of young talents that make it into the pros and do good things but there are still questions about whether they are truly fulfilling their talent.

Mohoric could go on to huge things, especially in some hillier races, but going into a World Tour system at a young age is a challenge so while he is on top of the world now, it might be a while before he hits those heights, if ever.

Caleb Ewan

...was impressive. While I knew that he could keep up on the hills, I all but ruled him out on the Florence course due to how selective the races was. Ewan put some egg on my face as he accelerated on the final lap to try and close the gap to Mohoric and Meintjes, creating a separation on the Via Salviati where only Simon Yates could follow the compact fast man. Ewan showed a lot of zeal on said attack on the Salviati and when the peloton came back together, Sondre Enger was able to beat him out for 3rd place. While it was a shame to miss out on a medal, this is a race which really marks Ewan as a danger man as a pro. Ewan, who announced he will be spending another year in the U23 ranks before heading for the World Tour, is really turning into an all-around rider that could be an partial answer to Peter Sagan in the near future.

Toms Skujins is a tough man

After Davide Villella punched Skujins off his bike at the Ruota d'Or, which lead to a knee injury, Toms lined up for the Worlds RR just days later and in the early going, his hopes were not high.

Skujins had to change bikes during the race but after a while, the Latvian's knee cooperated for the finale of the race. While the crash might have inhibited him in the finale, he was able to hold onto the leading chase group behind Mohoric and Meintjes and in one of the best stories of the day, came in 3rd in the sprint just ahead of Villella and good for 5th on the day. Now it is just a question if a team will get their head out of the sand and give Skujins a chance at the pro ranks.

WTF Belgium and Denmark?

Were they even in the race? Seriously, Jasper Stuyven talked so much trash going into the race and went on about how he would crush the race. Well, after good preparation, the results were a bit awkward. Stuyven missed the front split and finished 25th, 1'14" back on Mohoric. Off days happen so I can't give him too much shit but perhaps a bit less bragging to the media?

The rest of the team was a bit anonymous but while some knew the course would be quite difficult, others were definitely thrown for a loop and while the majority of the Belgian squad had good results leading into the race, they weren't ready for how hard the course was.

One disappointment that surprised me more was the Danish squad, which featured Michael Valgren and Magnus Cort. There were no Danish riders in the main split and the highest finisher was Cort in 36th place, 2'33" down. Cort, in an interview with, explained post-race that he was perplexed how the team all seemed to be on an off day for the race but that the course's technical nature made it hard to find a place to recover, which made eating and drinking difficult.

Other notables

-You might have noticed my omission of Louis Meintjes and his great 2nd place performance. The reason for that is that I don't believe Pro Continental riders should be allowed to race the U23 Worlds. They are making a pro salary and they weren't forced to move up to that level so they shouldn't be allowed to step back down and race with continental and amateur riders. I know that just because they are Pro Continental doesn't necessarily make them better, especially in the unpredictable U23 ranks, but when PC riders race full pro calendars, I find it incredibly dumb to let them come back for a more or less amateur event. In any case, Meintjes fully earned his result, which was a breakthrough for African cycling, so big congratulations to him.

-Nate Brown wasn't Plan A for Team USA but when "climbing specialist" Lawson Craddock, Gavin Mannion and Lawson Craddock all dropped away, Brown was the last man standing for the USA and he nearly turned it into a medal. After summiting the Via Salviati for the final time and running into the finish, 'Downtown' Brown attacked out of the final corner on the course in a huge gear and pulled away from the chasing peloton. As Mohoric was celebrating and raising his hands across the finish, Brown was dying 1000 deaths and trying hard to stay away from the peloton but was caught with 150 meters to go. It was a sterling effort by Brown, who will be going into 2014 as a neo-pro with Garmin Sharp.

-If Julian Alaphilippe would have waited to attack until later in the race, everything could have turned out much differently. Alaphilippe, who is turning neo-pro with OmegaPharma-QuickStep next year, but on a descending clinic when he went after the early breakaway with a few laps to go but when Matej Mohoric bridged up to him with less than two laps to go, Alaphilippe was not able to hang with the Slovenian on the climbs and eventually had to return the peloton, where he finished in 9th on the day. While Alaphilippe might not have been able to hang with Mohoric if he was more rested, he might have made it a bit more interesting in the finale as he has a much faster sprint that Mohoric. But now I'm just dreaming about scenarios...

-It was a good race for the younger U23s as Mohoric (1st), Enger (3rd), Ewan (4th), Silvio Herklotz (8th), Merhawi Kudus (15th), Odd Christian Eiking (16th) and Sebastian Henao (18th) all finished in the front group. All of those riders were born in either 1993 or 1994 and with the exception of Mohoric and Henao, all will be back for more U23 racing next year.

Please remember that just because a rider might break through with a nice Worlds result, that by no means makes them the next Gilbert or Sagan or Contador. There is no test or metric that will tell anyone that a rider will be able to make the jump from a U23 to a pro and excel. It has been shown the just because you are a superstar on the U23s, it doesn't automatically transfer to the pros. There are many problems that arise where a rider hits the pros and flounders such as lack of training structure (Popovych), overtraining which can lead to anorexia (Pliuschin) and even more extreme cases like Dmytro Grabovskyy's alcoholism. Injuries can pile-up and bad luck can plague a rider. No one can see the future and a rider can do everything right and it won't come together.

I rant because there will be a deluge of news articles and press releases about such and such being the star of the future and a promising talent just because they got some results as an amateur. Remember Fabio Duarte winning the U23 Worlds in Varese in 2008 ahead of a visibly angry Simone Ponzi? Remember how good Duarte is doing now? He is still living off that result right now and while he had bright flashes at the Giro and some other races, he can be wildly inconsistent. Duarte had some fucked up experiences as a young racer in Colombia but his promise is still bigger than his results. He is turning 28 next year and he really has to make the next big step in his career. Duarte is just one of the riders that have done well in the U23 Worlds and have yet to reach those heights again. Just like the some high placers in the Tour de l'Avenir, the inflated promise of some can lead to diminished returns.