Monday, September 1, 2014

Belgium wins U23 Nations Cup

With Louis Vervaeke and Dylan Teuns stage wins and Vervaeke's 5th place overall in the Tour de l'Avenir, Belgium was able to secure the U23 Nations Cup by a scant 2 points ahead of France, who led the competition coming into the race. (Full rankings here) The French put up a good fight but as French National selector Pierre-Yves Chatelon said with DirectVelo, they lacked riders that could go for stage wins like they had last year in Julian Alaphilippe and Alexis Gougeard so they did what they could.

An interesting tidbit is that since the Nations Cup rankings were first started in 2007, France has been on the podium every year. They have won the overall 4 times and had a 3-year streak up until the Belgians derailed them this year.

Vaulting up to 3rd place was Russia, who rode the strong performances of Alexey Rybalkin and Alexander Foliforov at the Tour de l'Avenir to move from 7th place to 3rd. This is Russia's highest overall placing in the rankings after getting 7th place three times within the past 5 years.

Rounding out the top 5 are Colombia, thanks to Miguel Angel Lopez, and Norway, which held steady in 5th place thanks to Kristoffer Skjerping's stage win in l'Avenir.

There is a reason I'm only listing the top 5 because if you remember back to my World Championships Qualifying story, the top 5 countries on the final Nations Cup standings get an additional rider for Worlds. Now Colombia was already at the maximum of 6 because of Fernando Gaviria winning the Pan-Am Games U23 RR so this bonus does nothing more for them. Belgium, France, Russia and Norway will all be getting an additional rider at Worlds, which means all of them will have 6 on the line in Ponferrada.

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