World Tour Teams
Europcar announced three signings for next year from their feeder team Vendée U in sprinter/all-arounder Thomas Boudat, Julien Morice and Guillaume Thevenot. The also announced stagiaire spots three more Vendée U riders in Romain Cardis, Jeremy Cornu and Taruia Krainer. Cardis has one win this year but is able to get up in the bunch kicks such as a 3rd in one stage of Tour de Normandie and 4th in the French Amateur RR Championships. Krainer was the surprise winner of the Paris-Tours Espoirs in 2012 but the Tahitian rider has been quieter since then. He had a good year this year with a 12th overall in Tour de Bretagne and 6th overall in Paris-Arras. Cornu has avoided health concerns this year and after 4 years on Vendée U, he has been rewarded with a stagiaire spot. Cornu was 11th overall in the Tour de Normandie after some strong rides late in the race and was 2nd in the Tour du Eure-et-Loir, which is a DN1 race i.e. all the big French amateur teams. From an interview with Cornu on directvelo.com, he indicated that Europcar manager Jean-Rene Bernadeau said a possibility of a contract is still on the table for him and presumably the other stagiaires.
It is really good to see that while some teams do not use their development team to their full capacity, Europcar is almost relying on Vendée U completely to bring in young talent so they won't need to rely on transfers.
Olivier Le Gac will be joining FDJ on a full contract from August 1st but FDJ went ahead and announced 3 stagiaires for the season as well. Lorenzo Manzin is a good sprinter with U Nantes Atlantique and got some recognition earlier this year for chucking a bottle at Kazakh Vadim Galeyev after he lost to him in a tight sprint in Normandie. Manzin, who is from Reunion Island, has won 4 races this year including 2 DN1 races and won the group sprint for 12th behind the breakaway of 11 at the ZLM Tour. Riding for CC Etupes, Guillaume Martin is winless but has done quite well on rolling to hilly terrain including breakaway rides in the Tour des Pays de Savoie, top 20 in the Berner Rundfahrt and Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 as well as 2nd overall in the hilly Tour du Franche-Comte. Sarreau has the best season going, at least in terms of results, as he has 4 wins and a slew of top 5 finishes including 3rd in the ZLM Tour Nations Cup. He has a good sprint on him but isn't a one-trick pony.
While Louis Vervaeke is making the mid-year switch to the pro team, Tiesj Benoot is getting a stagiaire role this coming August after an impressive year and a half on Lotto-Belisol U23. Led by Kurt Van De Wouwer, Benoot has been a constant presence in the top 10 this year (12 times) and a steady hand for Louis Vervaeke in the mountains. Benoot is a strong all-arounder that can get it done in classics (3rd in Ronde van Vlaanderen U23) and stage races (3rd in Ronde de l'Isard).
UPDATE: After Benoot was announced, Xandro Meurisse and Olivier Naesen were announced as stagiaires for Lotto-Belisol on July 5th. Meurisse is an all-arounder who gets it done in one-day Belgian races but likes to mix it up in the stage races, where he is a constant in the top 10 on sprint days. Naesen (Team Cibel) is out of the U23 ranks (born in 1990 like yours truly) but has been killing it in one-day races with year with 4th in the 1.1 Ronde van Limburg and 9th in the 1.1 Handzame Classic while hitting the podium for 3rd in the Memorial Van Coningsloo. Respectively, Meurisse and Naesen were 8th and 10th in the recent 1.2 IWT Oetingen. Lotto is trying to beef up its classics team and both should be able to provide something in the late season one-day races.
I'm nonplussed to see BMC take on Vliegen and Teuns after the Swiss/American team have signed Stefan Kung. The team seems committed to their development team after reaping the rewards from Silvan Dillier so far this year. Vliegen and Teuns are like peanut butter and jelly. Both are good on hilly terrain and have done well together when they line up together. Vliegen is the punchier of the two riders while Teuns is the better climber. Vliegen won the Triptyque Ardennaise and finished 2nd in the IWT Oetingen and Fleche Ardennaise (both UCI 1.2) and was 4th in the L-B-L U23 behind Turgis. Teuns was 2nd overall in the Tour de Bretagne just 4 seconds behind Bert-Jan Lindeman but he did win a stage in the process. Teuns was 2nd in the L-B-L U23 (same breakaway as Vliegen) and 3rd in Romsee-Stavelot-Romsee behind Gaeten Bille and guess who...Vliegen.
BMC has released temporary schedules for the duo for their time with the pro team. Both will have a focus on the Tour de l'Avenir and World Championships, if they get selected. Teuns will be riding the Tour of Utah before returning for l'Avenir then riding Tour de Wallonie followed by Worlds. Vliegen will ride the RideLondon Classic, Arctic Race of Norway then l'Avenir, Wallonie and Worlds.
7/7 Update: Thanks to @CyclingUpdates on Twitter for the reminder that I forgot to add Ilya Koshevoy on here. Koshevoy, a Belorussian who rides on the GS Podenzano amateur team in Italy, will be joining Lampre on August 1st this year as a stagiaire. The move had been a long time coming and Koshevoy was already taking pictures of himself in his Lampre kit in the middle of June. Koshevoy, who won the GP Liberazione last year in after dropping breakaway mate Adam Phelan, was a stagiaire with Androni last summer. It was rumored he would be moving to Lampre on a full contract but as of now, it is just for the stagiaire spot. Koshevoy has taken 3 wins this year mainly on hilly courses. His last win was an uphill time trial in Gardone Val Trompia where he won by over 20 seconds on the 9.4 kilometer course.
Koshevoy's first race with Lampre is slated to be the Tour of Utah.
Update 7/25: Andrea Vaccher will be joining Lampre and Koshevoy at the Tour of Utah. Vaccher is an older rider who is well out of the U23s but finally getting a shot on the pro level. He has been riding for Marchiol this year, which is on the continental level but still races some amateur events. He is fairly good in the one-day races and he won the Trofeo Edil C out of a 6-man breakaway earlier this year. In Utah though...I think Vaccher is going to be in the autobus a lot.
7/12 Update: Giant-Shimano, who might not even be around next year, decided to tap into their development team and call up some family. Frederik Ludvigsson might even be more talented than his big brother Tobias, who is now a 3rd year pro with Giant-Shimano. Freddy burst onto the scene last year with big time trials and strong GC riders including winning the Boulces de l'Artois and 5th in the Tour de Normandie. After People4You-Unaas collapsed, Ludvigsson joined Giant-Shimano Development for 2014 and kept right on with the strong rides. He was in the top 10 in GC at Normandie (10th), Triptyque Monts et Chateaux (5th) and the Circuit des Ardennes (10th) before turning in a damn fine 7th place in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23, which was technically 3rd in the bunch sprint that caught the break on the line.
Ludvigsson was in a bit of a late spring funk with some knee issues and such but everything seemed to come back together at Swedish Nationals. Ludvigsson got into the decisive breakaway and proceeded to finish in 4th place good for 2nd U23 and signaled that he would be ready for the 2nd half of the year. Ludvigsson is set to ride the Arctic Tour of Norway (2.1) and the Tour of Britain (2.HC).
so happy for my brother witch gona ride as a stagiaire for us. It is a special feeling to have him at the same team:)
— Tobias Ludvigsson (@tludvigsson) July 10, 2014
Now it's finally official !! Going to ride as stagair for @GiantShimano !!Dream to ride with and against the best riders in the hole world !SKY
— Fredrik Ludvigsson (@Ludvigsson94) July 10, 2014
Update 7/12: Is this 2012? Seriously. Davide Martinelli is a bit of a puzzle to me. I don't know whether to think of his as a time trialist or not. He can time trial and that seems to be his preferred discipline but he can sprint, which I think might be his hidden talent ala Marcel Kittel. So torn. I hope SKY can figure out what the hell to do with him. In the mean time, he has won 4 races this year including one sprint and 3 time trials. He also has five 2nd place finishes smattered across the board including 2nd to Stefan Küng at the European U23 TT Championships on Friday.
7/20 Update: Is this 2009 or something? Rasmus Guldhammer won the Liege-Bastogne Liege U23 that year and finished 4th in the Post Danmark Rundt. He was just 20 and he signed a contract with HTC-Columbia, the best team in the world at the time. He then proceeded to be one of the biggest busts in cycling history. Guldhammer moved to Italy and quickly became homesick; barely training and not performing up to snuff. The only times he did perform were in Denmark but that wasn't going to cut it. He went back to Denmark and has ridden on three different teams in the last 4 years. The last two years, Guldhammer has ridden for Tre-For-Blue Water and has gotten his mojo back. He won two stages in Loir-et-Cher with explosive attacks and won the Hadeland GP in Norway. He also recently finished 4th in the Danish National RR.
His move to Tinkoff-Saxo isn't a revelation because while Oleg Tinkov is a mad man, the team still has strong Danish roots (for at least this year) and Guldhammer would be a nice addition. He is down to ride the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado and the Tour of Britain. The former, I think, he will struggle through while the Tour of Britain is a race where he could definitely shine with short climbs and explosive finishes.
Sven Erik Bystrøm
Update 7/20: Bystrøm will be joining compatriot Alexander Kristoff at the oligarch-run Katusha for the rest of the season with a possible neo-pro contract being discussed. Bystrom has had a great last U23 season with 15 top-10 finishes so far and while he hasn't won a UCI race this year, his talent for the classics and selective sprinting is quite evident.
Update 7/20: Denz is the first call-up by Ag2r, who usually bring on the maximum amount of stagiaires every year to give them a shot in the umpteen amount of smaller French races the team is invited to. Denz rides for Chambery CF, Ag2r's feeder team, and while many of you haven't probably heard of him, he is a good prospect with a good turn of speed. He just won the 7th round of the DN1 Coupe de France at the Trophee des Champions in Aquitane, where he broke away from 4 others including Olivier Le Gac and future teammate Jimmy Raibaud. He also won a German Cup race in Caldozburg, where he was on his own and ended up winning solo ahead of the likes of a full-on Stölting team, Heizomat and others.
Update 7/21: The team announced that they would also be taking on Jimmy Raibaud and François Bidard. This isn't Raibaud's first go around with Ag2r. He was a stagiaire with the team in 2012 but didn't get selected for a pro contract. Soon after, Raibaud began to develop some knee issues and basically, his entire 2013 campaign was scrapped. He has to sit home and watch races while not being able to train. He had to give up his French Amateur National Champions jersey. 2014 was a year of redemption for the CR4C Roanne rider. He started early with a win in the 2nd round of the Coupe de France in the GP de Buxerolles in a two-up sprint over Yann Guyot. He won a big bunch sprint in the UCI Rhône Alpes Isere Tour as well as a stage in the Tour de la Creuse. He was also 3rd in the DN1 Coupe de France won by new teammate Denz.
Bidard just joined Chambery this year and is a fairly good climber. He hasn't had any huge performances this year, only a small overall win in a French race, but he has done multiple UCI stage race with a lot of climbing and was 8th overall in the last year's Tour du Gevaudan Languedoc-Roussillon.
Update 7/25: Tusveld will be coming up from Rabobank Development to join Belkin starting at the Tour of Utah. Tusveld has been a consistent rider for Rabobank Devo on pretty much any terrain. He was 4th in the 2013 Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 and was hanging around the top 20 overall in the Tour des Fjords, Rhone-Alpes Isere and Ster ZLM Tour.
Update 7/25: Kirsch will be joining the pro team at the Tour of Utah. Kirsch has ridden for the Luxembourg-based Leopard Development team for the last few year and has fashioned himself from a potential GC rider to an all-around/classics style rider that can ride a good TT and be handy in a bunch sprint. Kirsch was 7th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 Nations Cup this year and was 3rd in the Skoda Tour of Luxembourg prologue this year as well as in the Triptyque Monts et Chateaux TT, which secured him 3rd overall in the race. Kirsch has come a long way in just a few years and I tip my imaginary hat to him for getting the call-up. I hope he can get a nice contract for 2015.
Pro Continental Teams
Turgis is best known this year for his somewhat surprise win at the Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 but outside of that he has been a bit quiet. He came out this past weekend in the French Amateur Championships for 3rd place. Kowalski is young and has 5 wins this year but mainly from smaller races. Kowalski was a keen junior with many wins including in UCI races like the Course de la Paix (Peace Race).
7/7: Loic Chetout was the final Cofidis stagiaire announced by the French team. It could be a very promising move for them as Chetout has blossomed in his first season out of the Euskaltel-Euskadi system (Naturagas Energia) with GSC Blagnac. Chetout is a French Basque, a rarity in the pro peloton, from Bayonne and has won 7 races this year including a UCI race, the 3rd stage in the Ronde de l'Isard, which is fairly close to home. Chetout is a strong all-around rider who did well in classics-style races this year but can ride in the hills pretty well, with his overall win in the Bidasoa Itzulia as evidence.
Sondre Holst Enger
The talented Norwegian signed early on this year with IAM Cycling for a stagiaire role as well as a possibility at a contract for 2015. Enger has had a much quieter year compared to last year but put it back together for the Tour of Norway and Tour des Fjords, where he had 4 podium finishes on stages (there was a dearth of sprinters to be honest) and 5th overall in Fjords. Enger won the Norwegian U23 RR in a mass sprint but didn't have similar luck in the Elite Men's race, where he finished 17th.
Update 7/21: Enger will be going full pro instead of just a stagiaire.
Update 7/23: It was announced that Simon Pellaud and Claudio Imhof would be joining the team as stagiaires as of 8/1. Pellaud rides primarily with the Swiss National Team and has ridden very well in one day races including 4th place in this year's La Cote Picarde Nations Cup and 11th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, which ended in the very messy sprint that saw a massive crash. Pellaud is a strong boy and he could be a good addition to IAM's one-day team. Imhof is mainly a track rider and has ridden in multiple 6-day races.
Bonnamour's selection was announced nearly 2 months ago after his 8th place overall in the Tour de Bretagne, which is very impressive for a first year U23. Bonnamour was a very strong junior including the European Champion in 2013 and has a lot of talent to give. Riding with his CC Nogent-sur-Oise team, Ledanois led the team with a 6th overall at the Tour de Normandie while he was 11th in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 behind winning teammate Anthony Turgis. Ledanois is a rouleur that can do a bit of everything and has done quite well for himself in prologues and short time trials. Don't know much about Journiaux but he was a good junior last year and this year he has 4 wins in smaller races while on the DN3 Pays de Denain team.
Update 7/12: The Spanish side has once again chosen from its amateur team for its stagiaires and started with choosing climber Arnau Sole. Sole won the famed Subida al Gorla and has been strong on the Spanish continental scene for the green and white squad.
Interestingly enough, Caja Rural also went on the announce that 3 more riders would be fighting it out (on the road...no cage matches) to decide the last two stagiaire spots. Miguel Angel Benito, Hector Saiz and Jesus Alberto Rubio will be riding to see who gets a change to ride with Caja Rural later this year. I'm saying now that Benito has an inside track seeing as he was 2nd overall in this year's Copa de Espana overall ranking. So Saiz and Rubio for the 3rd spot...should be just so fun to follow. Maybe. If you are into that sort of thing.
Update 7/21: Perhaps the best stagiaire class overall? NetApp-Endura have secured sponsorship for the next 5 years in the form of BORA, who have indicated that they will be wanting more German speaking talent. If there was a wish list for five young German speaking riders for 2015, I would put all three of these riders on that list.
Patrick Konrad is very deserving of a World Tour contract so NetApp-Endura landing him is good news for BORA in 2015. Konrad ran with Etixx in 2013 and was 3rd overall in l'Avenir and yet when it came to a pro contract...crickets. This year was a grudge year with Gourmetfein-Simplon. He started out with a stage win in a small bunch sprint in Triptyque Monts et Chateaux followed by 4th overall on a non-Konrad course. After a small lull, he went 6th overall in the Rhône Alpes Isere Tour, 4th in the GP Südkärnten and then 2nd in the GP Jugendorf. Then he wins the Öberosterreich Rundfahrt overall...and he is just getting warmed up. Konrad goes on to kick some ass in the Osterreich Rundfahrt; the tour of his own country. He experienced only one truly bad day where he lost a minute and a half to leader Kennaugh and if he wouldn't have limited his losses better he would have been standing on the final podium...instead of in 4th overall place. Just 22 years old. Patrick Konrad could be a mega-talent if properly managed.
Mühlberger has arrived this year and has been tearing it up this year with Tirol. Just a 2nd year U23 at this point, Mühlberger came out storming at the Istrian Spring Trophy to take the prologue win and then put his hand in on one of the uphill finishes to finish 4th overall. Mühlberger is a freight train; big amounts of power that can be seen in sprints, breakaways and time trials. He proceeded to win the Trofeo Piva Banca after breaking away with four others on the hilly circuit and took the sprint easily ahead of Alexander Foliforov, Robbie Power and Manuel Senni...these names should sound familiar. If not, you need to read my site more. Was his season done? No way. He then capitalized on his time trial skills and blew the doors off the competition in the Carpathian Couriers Tour, where he won the overall thanks to him time trial and then conserving that lead. After winning a two-up breakaway stage with Konrad at the Öberosterreich Rundfahrt, Mühlberger was the only rider to be able to stick with Riccardo Zoidl somewhat at Austrian Nationals, elite or U23, and Mühlberger finished 2nd to the Trek rider and won the U23 race by a slim 6 minutes and 16 seconds. He even rode the Tour of Austria and spent some days in the attacks getting KOM points. If you haven't paid attention to Mühlberger yet, then do it. Now.
Krieger is a rider that has gotten my respect this year with some gritty performances. He is in his first year out of the U23 ranks like Konrad and has been acting like his life depends on results. Perhaps it is that "Oh shit, I need to kick it into gear" feeling or just having a full team backing him but Krieger has been a warrior this year. 4th place in Waasland to get the year going. 6th in the Rund um Köln...okay the race isn't the deepest field but it is a 1.1 race. Then 4th at the Ronde van Zeeland Seaports behind Bos, Sinkledam and Van Staeyen; those are some legit names. His latest result was a 4th place at the German National RR behind Greipel, Degenkolb and Phil Bauhaus. Krieger might not be winning 10 races a year but he will scrap for results and would be a great addition to the teams sprinters that already include Sam Bennett, Daniel Schorn, etc.
Romain Le Roux