Sunday, April 20, 2014

Anthony Turgis takes shocking win in U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege

Why do I have this pang of dread somewhere inside me that the peloton is going to get really fucking French here in the next couple of years. I admire the French but really, can some other nation start churning out young riders like The Hexagon is? I only say this because it seems like everything the French have been touching lately has been turning to gold in terms of rider development and they have been winning a lot on the U23 side. After Thomas Boudat's win in the ZLM Tour, of course just an hour or so later Anthony Turgis (CC Nogent-sur-Oise) lept off of Tao Geoghegan Hart's wheel to win the Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23. Greedy French.

The U23 edition of L-B-L is basically the 2nd half of the pro course; starting in Bastogne, the race winds around lower Wallonie before heading back towards Liege, hitting 9 climbs including La Redoute, Saint-Nicolas and the Cote d'Ans before finishing in the Ans velodrome in Alleur, which sits on the northern outskirts of Liege.

A breakaway of 6 went away early in the race before many of the climbs and got a maximum of 6 minutes. To be honest, I was still sleeping during the first half of the race so I couldn't really tell you much that happened. Mathieu Le Lavandier (CC Etupes) crashed with 60 kilometers to go in the race and broke his collarbone. The race really began to touch off at this point as TJ Eisenhart (BMC Development) attacked and was joined quickly by Antoine Warnier (Color Code-Biowanze). The duo set off in pursuit of the breakaway, whose gap was plummeting. As the race hit the mythical La Redoute, Warnier went right past the breakaway and went solo over the top of the climb. Warnier's bid for freedom was short-lived as he was brought back into the fold by the pack, which was now split due to La Redoute, shortly after with 40 kilometers left in the race. Between La Redoute and the Cote de Tilff, multiple attacks were launched by riders including Loic Vliegen & Dylan Teuns (BMC Development), Magnus Cort (CULT Energy) and Paco Ghistelinck (Etixx) but all were brought back before the Tilff climb.

On the Tilff with 21 km to go, Louis Vervaeke (Lotto-Belisol U23) launched a solo move and quickly got a gap of 20 seconds. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Bissell) tried to bridge briefly but was brought back into the fold. Vervaeke held out for another 8 kilometers before being brought back in with 13 km to go. At the base of the Saint-Nicolas, Pierre-Roger Latour (Chambery CF) attacked but was quickly passed by Derk Abel Beckeringh (Croford), who puttered out right as he summited the climb.

Just as there was a lull in the peloton after the summit, Dylan Teuns (BMC Development) attacked solo and pulled out an advantage over the bunch. A counter-attacked was launched by Geoghegan Hart and Anthony Turgis (CC Nogent-sur-Oise) and the duo was able to latch onto Teuns, who was 5th in the same race last year, with 6 kilometers left.  On the Cote d'Ans, the trio had 11 seconds on a small group of favorites and the gap was just beginning to wane ever so slightly.

Safely over the final climb, Loic Vliegen took a flier and was able to latch himself onto the group just before they were getting ready to enter the velodrome. The peloton was right on their ass so Geoghegan Hart took the initiative to keep the pace high before the sprint. The Hackney rider lead the sprint from way out, starting at around 400 meters to go, just to ensure the breakaway was not caught by the chasing peloton. Turgis, who was last wheel, popped out from behind and powered away for the victory, the first French victory here since Christophe Kern in 2002, ahead of Teuns, Geoghegan Hart and Vliegen. Just behind Vliegen, Espoirs Central pick for the win Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Belisol U23) won the sprint for 5th, which he was very frustrated with simply because he had the legs to do better than 5th but after problems with his chain on La Redoute and being shuffled out during key times, he had to deal with his place.

1. Anthony Turgis (CC Nogent sur Oise)
2. Dylan Teuns (BMC Devo)
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Bissell)
4. Loic Vliegen (BMC Devo)
5. Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Belisol U23)
6. Sam Spokes (Etixx)
7. Frederik Ludvigsson (Giant-Shimano Devo)
8. Floris De Tier (EFC-OPQS)
9. Tanner Putt (Bissell)
10. Derk Abel Beckeringh (Croford)

It was a great day for the class of '94 as both Boudat and Turgis took wins in the two biggest races of the weekend. Turgis himself was even surprised with his win as he was just looking to get a top10 result but after a strong ride at the Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 Nations Cup one week prior, the form was there. Turgis excels in cyclo-cross but he is no stranger to the road as he was a very strong junior and will be looking to join his brother, Jimmy (Roubaix Lille Metropole), in the pro ranks soon.

The youngsters from '95 were showing there talent with Geoghegan Hart, who was originally down for being a worker for Tanner Putt, taking 3rd. Sam Spokes (Etixx) has been riding very well as of late (14th in RvV U23) and his 6th place is definitely a big result.

It was a big group who came to the line together so many big names such as Magnus Cort, Pierre-Roger Latour, Jens Wallays and Louis Vervaeke finished rather anonymously in the bunch.

Many of the big one-day races for the U23 races, at least for spring, have now passed and the stage races with actual mountains will begin to pop up. The one gem that many future classics stars are looking forward to is Paris-Roubaix Espoirs, which is back after a one-year hiatus and will be taking place on June 1.

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