Monday, April 7, 2014

Weekend Review: Mulhberger wins Piva Banca; Oram 2nd overall in Redlands

While there was a huge amount of U23s racing in Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux this weekend, that was not the only racing going on by any means. There was racing across every which pond and with spring finally sprung, many are finally peaking for their spring objectives.

Mühlberger climbs to Trofeo Piva Banca win

Repeating last year's breakaway outcome, the 66th edition of the Trofeo Piva Banca also came down to a breakaway deciding the winner while the peloton sprinted it out for the lower placings. The race, taking place in Col San Martino in Treviso, featured a hilly circuit that acted as a buzzsaw; slowly trimming down the peloton until a breakaway got away to decide the race.

The race was marked by a two man breakaway including Gianni Moscon and Luca Chirico, who spent the majority of the day out front, but they were never endangering the favorites. The circuit featured a big climb, the Col San Martino, and that is where the race was decided as 1st year Australian Robert Power attacked on the slopes of the climb and drew out Austrian Gregor Mühlberger (Tirol), Alexander Foliforov (Helicopters), Manuele Senni (Colpack) and Felix Großschartner (Gourmetfein). The early breakaway duo was not able to hang onto their wheels for long. In the finale, it was Power who was taking the initiative on the climb and attacked his breakaway companions but it all came back together for the final sprint where Mühlberger took it ahead of Foliforov and Power. Behind, it was Caleb Ewan (Australia) who took the sprint for 6th ahead of Michele Scartezzini (Astana) and Marco Chianese (Pala Fenice). Ewan, who was beaten by Jakub Mareczko last weekend, has not gotten a chance to properly face the Italian sprinters yet but he did show off his climbing chops by getting 6th here as he was also 8th here a year ago.

Mühlberger continued a strong spring campaign that has included a prologue win and 4th place overall at the Istrian Spring Trophy and now this impressive win. Power, who was in his first European race as a U23, put on quite a display and he should be making waves later this year and in years to come. Luka Pibernik? Not so much. The Slovenian who is down to join Lampre as a stagiaire later this year and full-time in 2015 finished way down in 34th place nearly 7 minutes off the pace of Mühlberger. His season hasn't been bad but not exactly a pro level.

Oram finishes 2nd overall in Redlands Classic

Kiwi James Oram (Bissell) attacked on the Sunset Loop stage of the Redlands Classic with Joey Rosskopf (Hincapie Development) to try and get the overall lead from Travis McCabe (Smartstop). The duo worked well together and they were able to pull of the coup on the young Arizonan with Rosskopf taking the overall win and Oram 2nd overall along with the best young rider. On the final stage, young riders that made the front group included ex-Garmin Jacob Rathe (Jelly Belly), Mexican Eder Frayre, Kiwi Dion Smith and Ty Magner (Hincapie Development), Daniel Eaton (Canyon Bicycles-Shimano), Torey Philipp (Cal Giant) Clement Chevrier (Bissell) and junior wunderkind Adrien Costa (Hagens Berman U23).

While Oram finished 2nd, Dion Smith finished 6th overall, which capped off a successful week that included a stage win, while Daniel Eaton finished 8th overall, which is his 5th top 10 GC overall already this year. Eaton is headed to Europe for a few months this summer and he will be one to watch. Also, if you are not aware of Adrien Costa then make yourself aware. The Hagens Berman rider is just 17 years old but his talent is on an unreal level. He has won 5 races already this year and finished 19th overall in Redlands, which is incredible for a first year junior going up against most of the American pro peloton. If he can keep progressing at this rate, he is the future for American cycling.


-Nicolas Marini did not win...2 races in the weekend. Zalf-Euromobil Marini, who has had the golden touch so far this year, won his 6th race of the year (out of 8 starts) at Saturday's Milano Busseto by coming out of the final corner with about 200 meters to go and promptly hitting the jets to blow by the late attacker Davide Martinelli, who hung on for 2nd, and his  Through just 1.5 months of racing, Marini is on track to go after Andrea Guardini's record for wins by a U23 in a season, which stands at 19, and it looks like a doable feat once he starts to race more frequently. While Marini was absent from racing on Sunday, Zalf-Euromobil was not. While they only managed 9th in Trofeo Piva with Giacomo Berlato, the team was able to take the top four placings at Coppa Caduti di Reda with Albanian Eugert Zhupa taking his 1st win of the year, the 10th for Zalf-Euromobil, in a solo breakaway ahead of a group of 10 riders that included four Zalf-Euromobil riders. 32 seconds after Zhupa crossed the line, Daniele Cavasin crossed the line ahead of Davide Gomirato and Gianluca Milani. So while they didn't dominate the UCI race, they did take the 2 other races they were focusing on during the weekend.

-Boucle de l'Artois took a step back from being a UCI stage race this year but it was still an important date on the French national calendar as it was the 3rd stop on the Coupe de France DN1 calendar. Saturday included 2 split stages including a morning TT and afternoon road stage. Some Nuns won the first TT stage...well Thibault Nuns of Océane U. He took out the 23 kilometer time trial by 4 seconds over Nico Denz (Chambery CF) and 5 seconds over TT stud Bruno Armirail (Armée de Terre). UC Nantes has a family reunion on the afternoon stage when Lorenzo Manzin from tiny Reunion Island won the mass bunch sprint ahead of teammate Fabien Schmidt and Jeremy Lecroq (CC Nogent-sur-Oise). Sunday's stage ended up being decided by a small non-threatening GC breakaway while Nuns, Denz, Armirail and others high on GC like Thomas Boudat were just behind them. It was Australian transplant Nick Schultz (CR4C Roanne) who won a tight sprint ahead of experience Benoit Daeninck (CC Nogent) with Hugo Hofstetter in 3rd. The yellow jersey group came in 12 seconds down with no changes on GC which allowed Nuns and his Océane U team to take the GC overall with Denz and Armirail in 2nd and 3rd.

One thing that is interesting about the Coupe de France classification for the amateur rankings is that while individual performances are good, it is the team rankings that are important for teams and having multiple riders that can score points is sometimes better than having one rider get the win and no one else get in the points. Let's use Boucle de l'Artois as an example. Océane U, with Nuns win, got a total of 60 points over the weekend but Vendée U, who put 5 riders in the top 10 of the final stage as well as the overall, amassed 107 points. So smaller teams that don't have a team roster have to try and find points anywhere they can while big teams with deep rosters like Armée de Terre, Vendée U and UC Nantes just vacuum up points.

-Cristian Cañada, the stunning climber with Mutua Levante, won the Memorial Valenciaga, the Copa de España's 5th round. Cañada won a three-up sprint ahead of Alberto Gallego Ruiz (Extremadura) and Antton Ibarguren (Tel'com). Cañada, who won the Subida al Gorla hillclimb last year, has been on good form this spring and is hoping to secure a professional contract. He only started focusing on the road seriously a couple of years ago after initially focusing on MTB. Lizarte had their best performance of the year so far in the Copa de España by going 4th, 5th and 7th, which included U23 Marc Soler. Unai Intziarte (Gipuzkoa) finished 15th and was able to hold onto his lead in the classification by 33 points over Sergio Miguez and 65 points on Ibarguren. The next round of the Copa de España will not be until April 27 at the Memorial Rodríguez Inguanzo.

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