Sunday, February 14, 2016

Where Are They Now?

There are always those riders that catch your eye and stay on your radar for years. They could have a hot streak and be the flavor of the month but even after a cold streak, you still wonder what happened to them. Inevitably in the bike shop, someone will pip in with "Hey, you know whatever happened to Tom Steels?" I mean, it doesn't have to be Tom Steels. It could be Djamouladine Abdoujaparov. Or Ludovic Turpin. Anyways, let's take a look at a few of these cases from some U23 and continental riders that have taken on the role of High Plains Drifter.

Yuri Metlushenko

It was only a couple of years ago when Metlushenko was torching all comers in the Tour of Taihu Lake in a late career renaissance. When I was starting to get deep in cycling, Metlushenko transferred to Amore & Vita and in 2008, he proceeded to win the now-defunct Lehigh Valley Classic in a sprint ahead of Karl "He has the strength of ten" Menzies and Brad Huff. For the next two seasons, Metlushenko struck success mainly in Asia but was able to take more races in America and in a handful in Europe. It isn't surprising as Metlushenko was a prime talent back with Landbouwkrediet when they brought on the Ukranians with Popovych and Bileka. Metlushenko didn't have luck with securing big contracts (he looked certain for Lampre-ISD) but they fell through at the last minute.

Now Metlushenko, who has had success in China throughout his career, is riding on the Jilun-Shakeland Cycling, which he signed with halfway through last year. The team was notable for signing Mustafa Sayar and Dmytro Grabovskyy last year. Sayar was notorious for winning the Tour of Turkey but then testing positive for EPO while Grabovskyy is a Ukranian-Israeli that has been bouncing around the world in cycling as well as dabbling in Ironman racing. Metlushenko will most likely be at the Tour of Qinghai Lake as well as some of the later season Chinese races.

Some interesting facts about Metlushenko are that he reads the entire Bible from cover to cover every year and that the large scar you see on his face is from a crash in the days right after his first pro win in at the GP Costa degli Etruschi in 2002.

Here is a interview with him over at VeloVeritas that has a few nuggets.

Sergej Fuchs

There are riders that leave cycling and completely disappear off the map. American John Devine is a good example. Sergej Fuchs has an interesting story but he disappeared as fast as he came.

Fuchs was born in Kazakhstan, which at that time was a Soviet Republic. The city he was born in is Karaganda, which at its high consisted of 70% ethnic Germans who were exiled to Siberia and Kazakhstan by Stalin. Karaganda is in the middle of fucking nowhere, or was until Astana was built. Built near coal mines that was notorious for using slave labor, Karaganda lost a dramatic portion in the decade after the disillusionment of the Soviet Union with roughly 100 thousand people emigrating to Germany, with Fuchs and his family being one of them.

Fuchs rode as a junior and then eventually joined Team 3C-Gruppe, which featured some other talent such as Dominic Klemme, Paul Voß and Sebastian Forke. He rode to the top 10 in Olympia's Tour and the Rothaus Regio Tour as well as riding in his first Tour de l'Avenir, which saw him finish 13th against the like of Jan Bakelants, Rui Costa, Jerome Coppel, Andrey Amador and Tejay van Garderen. The following year, his last in the U23 ranks, he joined Rabobank Development along with van Garderen, Theo Bos, Steven Kruijswijk and Michel Kreder. Fuchs, the lone German on the team, has some good results like 6th in the Thüringen Rundfahrt, 5th in the Tour de l'Ain TT, 10th in the Tour du Poitou Charentes and culminated in a 3rd overall in the Tour de l'Avenir thanks to some good mountains riding and a strong time trial.

Results like that would usually culminate in a pro contract for most riders but Fuchs came up empty handed and was left with a ride for Nutrixxion-Sparkasse. His first season out of the U23 ranks wasn't bad with a 4th overall in Fleche du Sud but after three more seasons with Nutrixxion and NSP-Ghost, Fuchs retired and is seemingly untraceable on the internet. No Facebook. No Linkedin. No Twitter. So if you have any idea on the whereabouts of Sergej, please give an update because I'm curious to see what he is up to.

David Boily

Canada hasn't had a huge history with big time Grand Tour contenders up until Ryder Hesjedal began his run with Garmin that included his Giro d'Italia victory. Steve Bauer is the only other Canadian to win a Grand Tour stage and even sprinter Gord Fraser didn't get a big chance in Europe after he left due to disenchantment with the Festina era.

Born just ten days after your author in 1990, David Boily looked like he could be the chosen one. Beginning his athletic career as an figure skater, the Quebecois rider transitioned to cycling in his teens and finished 3rd in the Tour de l'Abitibi in 2008. As a first year U23, he turned some heads in America with a 3rd place on Wachusett Mountain in the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic, which was right behind Rory Sutherland, who was in the middle of his reign as king of American stage races, as well as a 6th overall in the Univest GP. Boily split time with the road and track, the latter of which he rode some a World Cup in Manchester.

2010 was an emerging year for Boily as he racked up a lot of quality race days including multiple week long stage races and grabbed some nice results. He was 9th overall in the Tour de Beauce, 9th in the UCI 1.1 Sparkassen Giro Bochum and finished 16th in the U23 World RR in Geelong.

He stepped up with Spidertech to the Pro Continental level in 2011 and by all accounts, he wasn't having his best year year with spotty results before the Tour de l'Avenir. He started well in the prologue and made multiple early breakaways to vault himself up the leaderboard and into the yellow jersey. He was able to hang on for dear life on the later stages to hang onto 2nd overall behind Colombian Johan Esteban Chaves and ahead of the likes of Mattia Cattaneo, Vegard Stake Laengen and Warren Barguil.

2012 was again an up and down year as he rode well in the Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 (13th), 2nd in the Tour of California KOM classification and 4th overall in the Coupe des Nations Saguenay (beaten by the likes of Kamyshev, Alaphilippe and Lutsenko). While his season didn't end well racing wise and Spidertech folded in October, he seemed certain for a contract with the Cannondale team, which was then the new iteration of Liquigas, along with fellow Canadian Guillaume Boivin. That was until the team over-promised and Boily was searching for a contract in December of that year.

Boily was saved by Cristian Fanini's Amore e Vita team for 2013, which was "Ukranian" that year but featured 11 different nationalities. Boily only finished a handful of races, including the Tour of Iran, but had stopped racing by June. The cause? Respiratory issues that saw his lung function decreased to 60 to 70% capacity of a normal person, which was caused by multiple falls as a skater and cyclist without proper recovery. Boily was unable to function properly as a rider and was forced to step off the bike for nearly a year. While in rehabilitation, Boily took up a job in catering to have some income coming in. He came back as an independent rider in 2014, where he focused on some regional races in Canada.

Boily was able to ride with the Stringray-Ultime Vélo-Trek team in 2015 to rehabilitate further and secure a contract with the Garneau-Québecor after a two year absence from UCI racing. If recovered fully from the cramping and breathing issues that plagued him for years, Boily could make a resurgence and perhaps we will be able to see the talent that saw him get into the leader's jersey in the Tour de l'Avenir.

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