Monday, July 21, 2014

Giro della Valle d'Aosta Wrap Up

While the racing has finally settled in the Western Alps of Europe, it is time to do a little bit of reminiscing as well as some analysis.
-Bernardo Suaza was the first Colombian to win the Giro della Valle d'Aosta overall since Alex Cano won the race in 2007 and is just the 2nd to win the race overall. Suaza is still a bit of an unknown quantity to me because of his lack of experience but is obviously capable in the mountains and while Colombia will be absent from l'Avenir thanks to some stupid administrative squabbling, Suaza should be active at some late season stage races.

Speaking of his team, 4-72 Colombia was very strong throughout the race. Diego Ochoa won the prologue and they put 3 in the top 10. While Ochoa couldn't hang on during the first stage, Suaza took up the slack and defined his leader role. Juan Felipe Osorio also rode well for a first year. This race was essentially their l'Avenir this year and while not all of the big names were here, they did what they set out to do. Win. Now if team manager Saldariagga would patch up relations with the Colombian Cycling Feds, then we could see them back in l'Avenir where they deserve to be.

-Odd Eiking really showed his true colors as a scalatore here after finishing 2nd overall and being near the front on every uphill finish. The lanky Norwegian looked very strong throughout the week and lost time to Suaza in the time trials and the opening stage but Eiking is an aggressive racer. I like (smart) aggression in racing. Also, Eiking is young at just 19 years old and I'm curious to see what kind of interest he is getting from the pro ranks.

-Colpack was impressive for most of the week but they were on the ropes on the final road stage. The trio of Manuel Senni, Edward Ravasi and Giulio Ciccone put on a great display on the first two road stages where Senni won the first two stages and Ciccone was raking in the KOM points. This isn't even mentioning Iuri Filosi and Davide Martinelli, both of whom were putting themselves into multiple escape moves. It seems like they had put in a bit too much energy on those stages and were caught out on the final road stage to Les Esserts. Senni was in yellow and got dropped by both Eiking and Suaza while his teammates didn't fair any better. If they were that strong the first couple of stages then the whole race could have been planned differently.

-A new name for me this past week was Paolo Bianchini. The Delio Gallina rider was riding with the front group on the biggest mountain stages and while he seemed to lose some steam on the final two stages, he was fighting it out with the big riders.

-Silvio Herklotz had a fairly anonymous race. The German wunderkind was fairly silent for the early part of the race but started to come around towards the end. He finished 9th on the last road stages with the remnants of the lead group and then went 6th in the ending uphill time trial.

-Oskar Svendsen...not too shabby. I'll go with a thumbs up. Okay he wasn't spectacular but he showed some glints of that mega-talent we all expected.

-Etixx was one of my bigger disappointments of the week. Besides Alexis Guerin's breakaway on stage 3 (he didn't win), the "Czech" team was fairly anonymous.

-Daniel Pearson looks like an interesting prospect. Pearson rides for the Zappi's Team, which is a full British roster that races almost exclusively in Italy. Pearson won the British Junior RR Championship in 2011 ahead of the likes of Jon Dibben and Owain Doull as just a first year junior. Racing for Zappi's, he has had some successful results this year in hillier races. He was 2nd in the Coppa della Pace and 9th overall in Peaches and Nectarines. He was never spectacular but he was always hanging around the leading group and his consistency paid off with an 8th overall.

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