Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Everything but Valle d'Aosta

So while my brain was in the Alps of Northwestern Italy for the entirety of last week, the world kept on moving for some strange reason. While Robert Power was crushing souls, stagiaires were being signed and racing continued in many places. Let's see what happened outside of Aosta...

Stagiaires Galore

The stagiaire period is upon us in just 11 days and the announcements for who will be riding for who are flooding in. For those of you that are uninitiated, stagiaire is a french word for trainee and every year starting on August first, a team is able to sign up to 3 stagiaire riders to race with the team. Stagiaires are not allowed to ride World Tour events (you will see some riders sign a full pro contract around this time, which can lead to confusion) but some teams tend to utilize them more than others. Stagiaires do not always have standout performances such as Andrea Guardini in the 2010 Post Danmark Rundt (Tour of Denmark), where he barely cracked the top 100 after being the best Italian sprinter on their amateur circuit.

I have commented on some of the other stagiaire announcements so I'll list the ones that have happened since the week before Aosta.

Ag2r La Mondiale: Romain Campistrous (GSC Blagnac), Francois Bidard (Chambery CF) and Florent Pereira (Immo Pro Roux)

Lotto-Soudal: Dries Van Gestel, Kenneth Van Rooy and Frederik Frison (all Lotto-Soudal U23)

Cofidis: Huge Hofstetter (CC Etupes), Xabier San Sebastian (Fundacion Euskadi) and Rayane Bouhanni (AWT-Greenway)

Wanty-Groupe Gobert: Robin Stenuit (Veranclassics-Ekoi), Kevin Callebaut (Cibel) and Romain Barraso (Guidon Chalettois)

Bora-Argon 18: Lukas Postlberger (Tirol) and Gregor Mühlberger (Felbermayr-Simplon)

There are more but that is the big teams. More announcements will be made in the coming days.

Volta a Portugal do Futuro

Not the biggest talent factory on the planet especially with Valle d'Aosta in session. Riding for the Cafe Baque team, which is directed by the likes of Manolo Saiz, Marino Lejarreta and David Etxebarria, Julen Amezqueta won the overall of the Portuguese race ahead of Ukrainian Anatoliy Budyak and Alvaro Trueba.

Honestly I don't have much to say here seeing as the Iberian racing culture is so insular with the vast majority of riders being from Spanish or Portuguese teams with the odd Russian and Ukranian thrown in for good measure. Amezqueta is certainly a talent as he won a stage of the Copa de Espana earlier this year but past that, it seems like he is a good climber but who knows. I really should get someone on here that knows what they are talking about when it comes to Iberia.

Qinghai Lake

If you are looking for a place where the Wild West of cycling still exists, then one must go experience the Tour of Qinghai Lake, which is out on the Chinese high steppe near Tibet. Cities in the middle of nowhere with roads that go up the sides of remote mountains. Big elevation gain and quite a mix of riders from temporary Colombians signing with Chinese teams, Americans and a smattering of Ukrainians.

On the U23 side of things, it was a bit sparse. There were younger riders in the race but only a handful. The best U23 on the GC was Ben O'Connor from Navitas Satalyst, who was 16th on GC. The next one after him was Maral-erdene Batmunkh from Mongolia, which was 25th overall. The young Chechen Ivan Savitskiy (RusVelo) (who is 23 this year) had a strong race with 9 top 10 stage finishes including a stage win along with 20th overall.

You'll hear more from Qinghai Lake in an upcoming interview.


-Nathan Van Hooydonck (BMC Development) showed his good form with a national TT win in Beveren albeit Belgian U23 TT Champ Ruben Pols was absent. Van Hooydonck followed it up by a solo win in another regional race.

-Alexander Kuznetsov, the father of Soviet cycling, hit a high point with his Lokosphinx team when Evgeny Shalunov rode to a solo win at this weekend's Trofeo Matteoti. The team put 4 in the top 14 and Shalunov, who won the Vuelta Comunidad de Madrid in May, has been on the form of his life. U23 Oliveira Troia finished 6th in the race while with the Italian national team.

Did I miss something? Am I a hack without talent? Do you want to tell me anything? Please follow on twitter @Vlaanderen90 or drop me an email on the sidebar.

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