Busy weekend so let's get to the meat of it shall we?
Ronde van Limburg
We knew it wouldn't take long but Mathieu van der Poel finally struck out for a big win. And when I say big, he was able to beat two World Tour riders onto the lower steps of the podium. The finish of the Ronde van Limburg is uphill and suits the lanky van der Poel to a T. Coming into the final kilometers, Philip Walsleben piloted van der Poel into the final climb along side riders from Belkin, Lotto, Topsport and others. Paul Martens was getting a bit boxed in in the sprint so to avoid losing out on the sprint entirely, he launched early and was looking good to take the win but it was van der Poel who lept out from behind him to take the win. Greg Henderson (Lotto) rounded off the podium while U23s Gianni Vermeersch (11th) and Mike Teunissen (14th) also finished well. Just out of the U23s Alexander Kreiger (still 22) finished 7th for Team Stuttgart. The German has been going quite well the last few weeks with a lot of top 10's including the Ronde van Zeeland Seaports (4th), two top 10's at the Bayern Rundfahrt and he even had a 6th at the Rund um Koln in April.
I know that van der Poel has a contract with BKCP through the 2016-17 cyclocross season (which would end around March) but I can't help but wonder how big the offers are going to get from road teams? He is a talent that does not come along very often. Cyclocross is going to need a superstar seeing how Sven Nys is getting older, Niels Albert is sidelined for now and Zdenek Stybar only comes around every now and then. Even Francis Mourey, who rides the World Cups at a very high level but has a pretty nice road schedule with FDJ. Those in power in 'cross will be wanting van der Poel to stick around along with the likes of Mike Teunissen, Wout van Aert, Gianni Vermeersch, etc. so that they can fill in the vacancies that are going to be happening sooner rather than later. I'm interested to see if that Pro Continental team that is being formed by Erik Dekker, Jean-Paul van Poppel and the rest of the Dutch crew happens because it might offer van der Poel and interesting opportunity. Well, enough of that for now...
Walscheid take German U23 crown
So Stölting was all raring to go for Sunday's German U23 RR Championship in Cottbus and were looking to keep the jersey on the team after Silvio Herklotz's win last year on the hilly course in Ilsfeld-Auenstein. With Herklotz not taking the start on Sunday (he was focusing on the German Elite RR), Stölting was looking to their best sprinter Phil Bauhaus to take the crown. Well they thought that Bauhaus would be the best sprinter anyways. The race itself came down to a sprint in the Cottbus city center after the breakaway, that included Stölting's Lucas Liß, was caught with 5 kilometers to go and it was Stölting's Max Walscheid that led the sprint from out long with 400 meters to go and no one was able to come around him, including the team's original leader Bauhaus. Behind the Stölting duo was Erik Bothe (MLP Bergstraße) in 3rd place followed by Pascal Akermann (Rad-Net Rose) and Willi Willwohl (LKT Brandenburg)
I shouldn't make it sound like such a surprise that Walscheid won because he had taken two stage of the Tour de Berlin and he is a good sprinter but this is really the first time opportunity has intersected with form. Stölting isn't exactly at a loss for winners seeing as the team has 6 different winners already this year and many others that have filled the top 10.
So Magnus Cort has 10 wins now. 10 UCI wins. 11 if you count the win he took back on Bornholm, his home island, in May. It is mid-June. That's as many wins as Andre Greipel has this year. Obviously not on the same level but for some one that isn't a bunch sprinter then 10 is a lot.
He added three to his haul the past weekend at the Ronde de l'Oise. l'Oise the the region just north of Paris that includes the city of Compiegne, which is where Paris-Roubaix has started for nearly the last 40 years. Stage 1 saw Romain Feillu take his first win in over 3 years (Tour de Luxembourg on June 5th, 2011). To put that in perspective, Linus Gerdemann was on Leopard-Trek and won the race overall. Anyways, Michael Carbel got 2nd in the sprint which is yet another good result from the young Dane.
Stage 2 = More sprint. Another bunch kick which was won this time by U23 Daniel Hoelgaard ahead of Justin Jules (La Pomme) and Dylan Teuns (BMC Development). Those that didn't make the split were minutes behind the group. The last couple didn't come in for another 33 minutes. Oof.
The final two stages is where Magnus Cort decided to stop playing around and came out to play. Stage 3 had a day long breakaway that included Shane Archbold (AnPost-ChainReaction), Thomas Vaubourzeix (La Pomme), Ricardo Van Dongen (Rabobank Devo) and Jeremy Morel (VC Rouen). The quartet spent the majority of the day outfront but when it came down to crunch time, Archbold and Vaubourzeix attacked with roughly 10 kilometers to go. The peloton was kicking into high gear. With 7 kilometers, the duo has 45 seconds. 5 kilometers...35 seconds. Down to just 2 kilometers and it was still 20 seconds. The duo lost 10 seconds in the next kilometer. The gap wasn't going to hold. It was just a few seconds in the last half kilometer. Archbold jumped and he looked golden to take the big win. But it wasn't to be. Cort jumped from the peloton and just mere meters from the line, he flew by Archbold to take the win. Boom. Done. Onto the next one.
The final stage, Cort, who was on level with Feillu in the general classification, was going to do what he needed to take the win. The race came down to the final sprint and it was Cort, in the points jersey, who was leading out the sprint and no one was able to come around him including Rudy Barbier and Romain Feillu. Cort, thanks to time bonuses, took the overall leader's jersey as well as the points jersey. Even when he isn't a true bunch sprinter, Cort can still get it done in a bunch kick. He is simply just another level...a pro level. He is just adding another 0 onto his contract at this point.
Carthy wins Tour de Korea
There he was. Riding across the lot looking like a tall drink of water that could have blown away if someone pushed him. Hugh Carthy isn't much except for a head, torso and a long pair of legs but god damn can that kid climb fast. After placing 3rd on the 3rd stage and surviving the others in one piece, Carthy punched it on the hard finishing climb to Pyoengchang Jin-Gogea, which averaged 8.7% gradient over 7+ kilometers. Carthy distanced the rest of the lead group on the final kilometer and when it was all over, that skinny kid had taken out 7 seconds from U23s Hyoeng Min Choe and Jack Haig and many seconds on all the others.
It was really the only stage that defined the race and Carthy manage through the final stage to sow up the general classifications to take a huge win. Carthy, just 19 still, took the yellow over Choe, who is still a U23, and the Australian wonder Jack Haig. In the last month, Carthy has gone 6th at the Tour of Japan overall and won in Korea and was there in all of the biggest mountain stages, even when there were a few dodgy Iranians.