Wednesday, April 15, 2015

La Côte Picarde: ¡Vince Consonni!

The northern coast of France took on an Italian look today during the 2nd of the season's U23 Nations Cups. 27 nations toed the starting line in Crotoy for 180.7 kilometers of fun along some windy and mainly flat French coastline.
The day started out with an attack trying their best to get established but it wasn't until nearly an hour was done that 1st year U23 Eddie Dunbar was able to get clear and the pack was willing to let him go. Dunbar, a very talented junior who now rides for the British NFTO team, was restless in the pack and decided to go for it and a cheeky move turned into a nearly all-day breakaway.
With a free pass from his Belgian DS, Dunbar got a lead that max out at over 7 minutes on the peloton. Federico Vivas (Argentina) tried in vain to chase down Dunbar but had no luck in doing so. He was briefly joined and subsequently passed by Kazakh Grigoriy Shtein, last year's junior Asian RR Champion. Shtein could only make it within 5 minutes of Dunbar before running out of steam.

With 60 kilometers left, Dunbar still had over 4 minutes on the peloton but soon after, a counter move by Massimo Morabito (Luxembourg) and Juan Curachet (Argentina) got out of the peloton. Shortly after, they were joined by Jonas Koch (Germany) and the trio began to steadily chomp at Dunbar's advantage. The pace of the breakaway and peloton began to ramp up but Dunbar still had an advantage of over a minute on the chase after being out front for over 100 kilometers.

The chase group was finally able to make a junction with 30 kilometers to go and the quartet plowed on trying to avoid a seemingly inevitable fate. Dunbar showed strength beyond his years as he and Koch broke away from the other two on the rolling hills on the finish circuit and continued towards the line. It wasn't until 18 kilometers to go and the beginning of the final circuit that Koch and Dunbar, who had been out front for 124 kilometers or roughly 3 hours of racing, were brought back into the fold. For his hard work, Dunbar brought home the KOM trophy and got a nice handshake from Eddy Merckx on the podium.

It was Soren Kragh (Denmark) that lit the touch paper on the final lap as he took the KOM on the final circuit. Jack Haig made a small move but was followed closely by Gianni Moscon (Italy), who had a few kilometers of freedom before being brought back. The only true attack in the finale that had the peloton sweating was started by a two man move by Austrian Felix Großschartner and Dane Mads Pedersen, who got off the front with just after Moscon was brought back. Soon after it was Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 Truls Engen Korsaeth (Norway) who bridged up to the duo and with 5 kilometers to go, they were nursing a 10 second advantage. Korsaeth has been a revelation this week and was using some secret herring-aided strength to power the move but it was for naught as they were brought back just before 3 kilometers to go.

Consonni looks like a Stretch Armstrong but his sprint is masterful
Photo: Courrier Picard/
Into the finale kilometer, my pick for the win, Daniel Hoelgaard, was looking good for the win but Simone Consonni of Italy (Colpack during the rest of the year) timed his sprint to perfection and wearing some ridiculous POC sunglasses, the Italian took a huge victory ahead of last year's Ronde winner Owain Doull and Hoelgaard.

  1. Simone Consonni (Italy)
  2. Owain Doull (GB)
  3. Daniel Hoelgaard (Norway)
  4. Yoann Verardo (France)
  5. Aksel Nömmela (Estonia)
  6. Mads Pedersen (Denmark)
  7. Colin Joyce (USA)
  8. Jan Dieteren (Germany)
  9. Pryzemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Poland)
  10. Lucas Gaday (Argentina)
Full Results can be found here

-This was the first edition of this race to finish in a true bunch gallop since 2011 when Arnaud Demare won ahead of Alexei Tsatevich and Tosh van der Sande. This is only the 2nd true bunch sprint in this race since 2005.

-Consonni's win along with Gianni Moscon's performances the last two races have shown that Italy has come to play this year. The last couple of seasons have seen Italy fall a bit flat in the Nations Cups while succeeding at home against domestic competition. These two come from two different programs in Colpack and Zalf-Euromobil but Consonni has proven himself as an impressive sprinter at just 20 years old while Moscon can get it done on nearly any type of hilly terrain.

-Italy takes the lead in the Nations Cups overall by 7 points on Norway and 11 on France.

-Truls Engen Korsaeth? Didn't really know the name before last weekend but I will be remembering it for certain. After strong performances in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and here in Picarde, he is on the form of his life right now.

-A little underwhelming so far this year? Jon Dibben.
-Above, a wild Kazakh mechanic seems to be contemplating life out of the car window while in the caravan.

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