Sunday, February 22, 2015

Weekend Roundup: Calmejane sweeps in France, Italy & Spain kick off plus everything and more

Freezing my ass off in a small apartment, the world of cycling moves on in places warmer than where I am. No time, we must get going.

Lilian Calmejane takes a double in France

After a cyclocross season that included 5 wins, Lilian Calmejane has had a successful return to the road in the past couple weeks. After a close two-up sprint loss to Oscar Landa on the opening stage of the Circuit des Plages Vendéennes, Calmejane came into the first race of the Coupe de France, the rainsoaked GP du Pays d'Aix down on the Cote d'Azur, with his Vendée U squad with some confidence.
With nearly 50 kilometers to go, Calmejane got into a move with Thomas Rostollan (AVC Aix), Remi Cavagna (Pro Immo Roux) and Benoit Cosnefroy to chase down Fabrice Seigneur (Sojasun Espoirs). More riders including Nans Peters, Nico Denz (both Chambery CF) and Jeremy Cornu (Vendée U) joined up and while it took a while, with 25 kilometers to go Seigneur was caught and it was a group of 9 up front. Coming into the final 10 kilometers, the breakaway had 2 minutes on the peloton and the attacks started to come thick and fast. Peters, who won 2 races last year, took off and teammate Denz, Cavagna and Calmejane went along with him with 6 kilometers to go and the quartet was off.

Denz attacked in the final kilometer but he was brought back for the final sprint. It was between Calmejane and Peters for the win with Calmejane taking the win. It wouldn't be his last of the weekend.

At Sunday's Souvenir Jean Masse, it was basically a carbon copy situation with Calmejane getting in to a breakaway with around 50 kilometers to go. The group, including riders like Alexis Dulin, Guillaume Martin and Jeremy Bescond, extended their lead over the peloton as the group was whittled down. While attacks went, it was a group of 5 heading into the finale with these four plus Geoffrey Bouchard (CR4C Roanne) but no one was going to deny Calmejane, who came around Bouchard to win the race.

Keep an eye on Calmejane, who won the queen stage in last year's Ronde de l'Isard, for this spring as he is not a U23 any more and will really need to ride out of his skin to impress someone enough for a pro ride.

In other French races...

The Norwegian National Team finished their demolition of the Circuit des Plages Vendéennes with 4 riders in the top 5 in August Jensen, Haavard Blikra, Tormod Jacobsen and Oscar Landa along with 3 stage wins and a rider on the podium of every stage. It is just a training race for them with some good but not amazing competition.

Down in the Basque County, the l'Essor Basque wrapped up with Armée de Terre taking a win in the Trophee de l'Essor but with GSC Blagnac's Romain Campistrous taking the overall from the 5-race series. Albeit the overall is just for riders that rode every race and don't include riders such as Yoan Verardo, who won two stages, so it is pretty much meaningless.

Opening Italian Weekend

It was a busy weekend for Italian teams as they got their seasons off to a start with some short but sweet racing.

Ballerini takes a big win in San Geo (via

The 91st Coppa San Geo was a wet and fairly cold affair but after a few breakaway attempts during the day, a smaller group came in for the bunch sprint. It was a UniEuro Wilier Trevigiani's Davide Ballerini who led the sprint from a long way out and rounding the final bend, he was able to hold off teammate Lorenzo Rota and Davide Martinelli (Colpack) in 3rd. Top 10 and small video here.

The 28th Firenze Empoli looked like it would be a slam dunk for the Zalf-Euromobil but last year's 3rd place Thomas Pinaglia threw a wrench into those plans with a big sprint win over Zalf's Andrea Toniatti (2nd) and Gianni Moscon (4th) with Simone Bernardini in 3rd.

This will not be the only time this happens this year (photo:ItaliaCiclismo)
Not to be disappointed about their opening day, Zalf-Euromobil bounced back with a podium sweep at the Coppa San Bernardino with Nicola Toffali taking the win in front of Simone Velasco and Filippo Rocchetti.

If it wasn't enough for the Venetian Zalf-Euromobil squad, they took the 1-2 in the GP De Nardi with Marco Gaggia and Gianluca Milani making it a banner day for the team.

After getting his nose in a sprint on Saturday, Davide Martinelli showed off his sprint promise (championed by yours truly) by taking the sprint at GP La (Joe) Torre. A breakaway of three were caught within sight of the line and Martinelli, the son of Astana DS Giuseppe, took the sprint by a good margin ahead of Marco Corra and Alex Turrin (both Mastromarco).

Copa de Espana opening

The Spanish Cup also opened up this weekend with the Circuito Guadiana, which ended up being a big sprint after multiple breakaway attempts ruled the day. Coming down to it, it was Antonio Angulo taking the big bunch sprint for the win. Cristian Torres (Fundacion Contador) was the best U23 in 4th place with James Newey (GB/Zappi's Pro Cycling) just behind him in 5th place.

To be continued next time.

1 comment:

  1. Hi chris. I am discovering your blog. Let me tell you that I enjoy your job. I am a Frenchman an a big sports fan. I especially like to "discover" new talents. Your blog is an oportunity to have an external observation of french riders. (and it also help me to improve my english by reading your articles). I would like to share my view on some riders. I believe Lilian Calmejane will make it to the next step.He is an all-round rider and has got enough qualities to become a pro. He is involved in a long term project with vendee U (academy and reserve for the team Europcar), and his future might depend on the venue of a new sponsor in 2016. We should also keep an eye on his teammate fabien grellier who might become a top-class rider. I also like Guillaume Martin. He is a good climber, with a good team spirit. He didn't manage to become pro after an internship last year with team FDJ, but it is mainly because Madiot wanted two young sprinter (Manzin and Sarreau).Next year maybe..we'll see !