Monday, 13 July 2015

Next week LEADout Academy from South Africa starts their journey in Europe and for most of their juniors it will be the first time to taste European racing. Read my interview with one of them, Aidan Van Niekerk

Hello Aidan, for the start, could you give us a small introduction about yourself?

I'm Aidan van Niekerk, an 18-year-old cyclist from George, South Africa. I've been a massive cycling fan since I was about 11, but only started cycling with serious intent when I turned 14. Most of my cycling thus far has been racing on our MTB marathon scene, but since the beginning of the year I've had a more serious focus on road racing. I love all kinds of climbing - but being quite a small guy, I'm pretty sure it's the only terrain that suits me.

How did you start cycling?

Contrary to popular belief, we don't actually live in grass huts and ride around on elephants here in the RSA, so sorry to disappoint if you're expecting a story of where I was forced to ride 30km to and back from school everyday! My parents actually started MTBing to improve their health (and probably because of a mid-life crisis), and being a little 11-year-old, I followed suit. As the years progressed, I discovered my competitive nature and started taking things seriously.

I know you are now riding for LEADout academy in South Africa. Can you tell us more how did you get there and how is the academy working?

Well, I guess Barry Austin (LEADout Principle) was impressed by something I did in race and I got a call from him offering me the opportunity. LEADout academy is actually "restarting" this year after a few years of absence. The academy aims to develop young riders and give them the opportunity to get some exposure against the best juniors in the world when we race in Europe. It was previously know as "ACL" and its alumni include Louis Meintjes, Johann van Zyl, Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, John-Lee Augustyn, and Jaco Venter. This year LEADout will be sending a 6-man junior squad over to Europe with Barry Austin and John-Lee Augustyn as our managers.

How would you sum up this season so far ? Are you happy with your results?

Up to this point I'm quite happy. I really aimed to win a national title, but that didn't go as planned. That being said, my biggest aim is obviously when we head to Europe next month, so I'll evaluate my season based on what I achieve there. In January, I didn't even dream about going to Europe, so having been offered that opportunity I can already view this season as a success.

Next month, you are heading to Europe. Which races are you planning to ride ?

We'll be based in Oudenaarde, Belgium for the most part and will do a few kermesses in the area to keep us race-ready. Our UCI race schedule is as follows:
- Oberöstereich Juniorenrundfahrt
- Internationale Niedersachsen Rundfahrt
- Ronde van Vlaanderen Juniores
- Aubel-Thimster-La Gleize
- Ronde des Vallées

Are you going to ride as national team in Europe or as LeadOUT academy ? I've noticed that none of the races are from Nations Cup calendar, why is that ?

We're representing LEADout Academy in all of our races and not acting as a national team. Quite honestly, I'm not quite sure why there's no South African representation at some Nations Cup events because we have quite a few capable riders who are already in Europe. There's too much politics involved, I guess.

Does the national federation support your trip to Europe ? Seems like an important part in developing future champions!

Unfortunately there's no structured development system like the well-oiled machine that the Americans have. We have to go about covering all our expenses at our own cost (luckily LEADout helps with subsidising certain expenses). For example, bringing my TT bike with us just creates a bigger logistical nightmare and extra expense, so it's staying behind. If it wasn't for LEADout and their work, I'm really not sure how SA talents like Meintjes, Van Zyl, etc., would've got the necessary exposure as juniors. Sure, we might not be a cycling nation like Belgium or France, but there are a lot of young South African juniors who have the talent and work-ethic to become professionals. All they need is the high-level exposure in Europe and they're good to go. It's a pity that many talented guys will never get that opportunity because of the financial constraints of traveling abroad for weeks. It's definitely something that is lacking on the part of Cycling South Africa, and I would love to see that change for the good of our national development.

MTN-Qubeka seems like a team focused on developing African riders, they have u23 team but what about juniors ? Does young riders in SA get any support from MTN team ?

There's no development team for juniors. We don't receive any direct support or assistance, but the feeder team does a very good job at developing the u23 African riders. For this season, they signed a few juniors from last year and, if anything, it's an incentive for juniors to perform.

I have heard you never rode on cobbles! Is that true ?

Another aspect lacking in South Africa is cobbled roads! Besides for a few driveways, there are no cobbles in sight. We do, however, have some really shitty roads which could pass for cobbles - and I spent some time on gravel to get used to a different kind of surface to tar. But I'm looking forward to tackling the pavé in Flanders!

What are your expectations before heading to race in Europe ? Any specific race that you would like to perform well ?

It's my first time ever riding at such a high level and I expect to get my ass handed to me at every race! That being said, I am in the best shape yet, so maybe I won't be too useless. The biggest aim would be to learn as much as possible to build a platform to come back in the coming years. I'd like to target climbing races and stages, most probably Oberösterreich and La Gleize.

Which race was the highlight of your career so far ?

Having never had the opportunity to race internationally, I can't really say I've had any major results. Grabbing a podium at SA TT champs was probably my best ride. It was my first-ever proper TT and considering I was mostly a mountain biker up until then, I can view it as a nice surprise.

In few months you will end your career period as a junior. What are your plans for the future ?

I've never planned on turning pro, despite loving the sport and racing, because riding in Europe was more of a fantasy. With LEADout I now have the opportunity to head to Europe in the coming years as well, which has opened a lot of doors. I'll be studying in Stellenbosch (which is SA's cycling-Mecca) and will hopefully return to race in Europe during July-September of every year. Guys like Chad Haga, Adam Hansen, and Romain Bardet have convinced me that studying and a cycling career can be combined. Perhaps I can do a post-grad course in Europe and turn full-professional in that year. It is a cliché, but we can never be sure what the future will bring, can we?

Do you have a cycling idol ? Or a rider you are cheering for ?

I draw a lot of inspiration from the South Africans on Team MTN-Qhubeka. I can relate to them a lot and have a lot of respect for being able to get where they are. Seeing Louis Meintjes ripping it up on the mountain slopes is definitely something to cheer for too.

Last question: who will win Tour de France 2015 and why ? :-)

Mmm... I think it may be Quintana's year. He's been trying to keep a low profile so far and that may be with good reason.

Thanks for your time!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Swiss rider Marc Hirschi won 68th edition of GP Général Patton in Luxembourg. German rider Georg Zimmermann finished second and Bjorg Lambrecht from Belgium was third and won the mountains classification while Zimmermann won the points jersey.

Final race podium (photo: swisscycling)

The first stage from Ettelbruck to Troisvierges (102 kilometers)  finished with a successful breakaway that splitted on the final kilometers. Slovenian rider Ziga Horvat won solo just two seconds ahead of National Belgian road race champion Bjorg Lambrecht and Marc Hirschi from Switzerland. The peleton was shattered by a fast pace on climbs and windy conditions. The breakaway consisted 16 riders and it's certain that the overall winner will come from those 16.

Ziga Horvat wins the first stage (photo: Herve Dancerelle/ Directvelo)
Results



The final stage around Wincrange (97 kilometers) won German rider Martin Salmon after an attack in the final kilometers. Italian Nicola Conci tried to go with three kilometers to go but Salmon managed to counter his attack and won solo. His teammate Georg Zimmermann finished second and Andre Carvahlo from Portugal was third. Thanks to his fourth spot Marc Hirschi won the overall. Ziga Horvat lost almost a minute on the second stage and dropped to seventh place overall.

Results


Final GC

Friday, 10 July 2015

Despite having only two stages, GP Général Patton, is one of the most important stage races of the year in junior category. The first edition of the race held in Northern Luxembourg was in 1947 as an event for cadets. Since 1964 it's an junior event and since 2008 it's a part of UCI Nations Cup.

Kim Kirchen, Simon Spilak and recent climbing sensation, Jan Hirt won the race in previous editions while Michael Matthews, Michael Valgren and Mathieu van der Poel all finished on the podium. Interesting that local hero, Bob Jungels, was far back in both editions he raced despite being a big star in his junior years.

The route is basically the same as last year. We have two stages over the weekend with the first one from Ettelbruck to Troisvierges which is 102km long and should end up with a bigger group finish. Riders will face four short categorized climbs but the last 25,5km of the stage  held on the circuit around Troisvierges is quite flat and should help sprinter teams to bring the race together for the final bunch sprint.

Stage 1 profile
Last year the stage ended with successful solo breakaway in the final kilometers. Valentin Madouas, French track specialist won ahead of his team mate, Damien Touze.

The Sunday stage is shorter (97km) but harder as riders will face five laps around Wincrange with Boevange climb (1,8km long with average 6,74%) on each lap. The last pass is 14,5km from the finish and should give an opportunity for late attack or at least will split the bunch and we can expect reduced bunch sprint.

Last year, Russian Alexander Vlasov won solo, ten seconds ahead of the reduced peleton brought by Italian rider Lorenzo Fortunato. Stage win also gave Vlasov final GC win ahead of Madouas and Fortunato.

Last year's GC:
Names to watch: Szymon Sajnok, Alan Banaszek, Hakon Aalrust, Tanguy Turgis, Kevin Geniets, Michel Ries, Dennis Van der Hoorst, Jakob Egholm, Dusan Rajovic, Sander De Pestel, Siim Kiskonen

Roadbook
Startlist 
Race website

Thursday, 9 July 2015

In the shadow of Tour de France there is quite a lot of junior racing planned for July. The first event was 52nd edition of Sint-Martinusprijs Kontich, Belgian stage race held last week.

Mikkel Honore on the podium (photo: Team Kel-berg Roskilde)

Mikkel Honore from Denmark, the defending champion, won again on Belgian roads. The podium was completed by two Belgian riders: Sander De Pestel and Ward Jaspers.

The race started with evening time trial on Friday. Team Kel-berg Roskilde (as you probably know, one of the strongest junior teams in the world) won despite Jacob Egholm's mechanical  over Monkeytown Cycling Team and Van Boer Group Team. Mathias Norsgaard was the first leader just ahead of Mikkel Honore.

Team Kel-berg Roskilde on the road for the stage win (photo: cyclingsite.be)

The second stage around Antwerp was decisive. 29 riders went clear including Honore, De Pestel, Jespers and other big names like Nieuwpoort, Panis, Schelling and cyclocross superstar Eli Iserbyt. They managed to gain two minutes over the peleton and it was sure that the GC will be decided between those 29. In the final kilometers Sander De Pestel jumped away from a group of ten riders and finished solo, just three seconds ahead of Honore and Finish rider Jaako Hanninen. Thanks to his second place, Honore was the new race leader while De Pestel took two other jerseys: points and youth.

Sunday was Sasha Weemaes day as young Belgian won both stages: morning time trial and sprint stage later on. Mikkel Honore was fourth in the time trial and extended his lead in GC as De Pestel was tenth and lost a handful of seconds. The sprint stage didn't affect the GC but showed first sparks of Weemaes talent on international level. Last year, he was one of the strongest riders in U17 category and scored big amount of wins, almost as much as Philipsen. On both stages, Mathias Norsgaard was second.

The final stage around Kontich finished with a unusual bunch sprint and the GC didn't change at all. Dutch rider Tristan Rijsdijk won by a solo attack in the final kilometers, few bike lengths ahead of Batuhan Ozgur from Turkey (big surprise!) and Laurens Vandermeer from Belgium. Mikkel Honore was the final winner, the first rider in the race history who managed to defend his title.

Tristan Rijsdijk winning the final stage (photo: Het Nieuwsblad)

Final GC:

Thursday, 25 June 2015

All the results and some photos from the week of National Championships in junior men category.

Netherlands

Road Race (Emmen, 117,9km)

1. Maarten Kooistra
2. Pascal Eenkhoorn
3. Lars Van den Berg

Full results

Time Trial (Emmen, 26,5km)

1. Maarten Kooistra
2. Pascal Eenkhoorn
3. Daan Zebel

Full Results



Norway

Road Race (Lillehammer)

1. Tobias Foss
2. Ivar Knotten
3. Torjus Sleen

Full results

Time Trial

1. Tobias Foss
2. Torjus Sleen
3. Hans Rudland

Full results



Poland



Road Race

1. Szymon Krawczyk
2. Karol Cygan
3. Damian Sławek

Full results

Time Trial

1. Szymon Sajnok
2. Adrian Kaiser
3. Daniel Staniszewski

Full results

Switzerland 




Road Race

1. Marc Hirchi
2. Stefan Bissigger
3. Reto Muller

Full results

Time Trial

1. Gino Mader
2. Jonas Doring
3. Marc Hirschi

Full results

USA

Road Race

1. Jonathan Brown
2. Gage Hecht
3. Willem Kaiser

Full results



Time Trial

1. Brandon McNulty
2. Adrien Costa
3. Gage Hecht

Full results


Sweden

Road Race

1. Gabriel Hallgren
2. David Jacobsson
3. Oscar Recina

Full results


Time Trial

1. Gustav Andersson
2. Felix Nisell
3. Erik Sandersson

Full results

Italy




Road Race

1. Cristian Scaroni
2. Simone Bevilacqua
3. Francesco Faresin

Full results

Denmark
Road Race

1. Rasmus Lund Pedersen
2. Anthon Charmig
3. Julius Johansen

Full results

Time Trial (Rønde, 26,4km)

1. Anthon Charmig
2. Mathias Norsgaard
3. Niklas Larsen

Full results

Czech Republic

Road Race

1. Michal Brazda
2. Jakub Otruba
3. Matěj Štibingr

Time Trial (Žilina, 34km)

1. Jakub Otruba
2. Jiri Sorm
3. Lukas Slavik

Full results


Slovakia

Road Race

1. Juraj Michalička
2. Adrián Foltán
3. Tomáš Person

Time Trial (Žilina, 34km)

1. Samuel Oros
2. Matej Ulik
3. Ladislav Knieha

Full results

Luxembourg

Road Race

1. Colin Heiderscheid
2. Noah Fries
3. Pit Leyder

Full results

Time Trial (Eschweiler, 24,6km)

1. Kevin Geniets
2. Michel Ries
3. Pit Leyder

Full results


Russia

Road Race
1. Aleksander Borysov
2. Denis Nekrasov
3. Dimitry Markov

Full results

Time Trial (Seransk, 28km)

1. Pavel Sivakov
2. Sergey Rostovtcev
3. Aynur Galeev

Full results

Monday, 8 June 2015

German rider Patrick Haller won 28th edition of Trofeo Karlsberg. Thomas Vereecken from Belgium and Clement Betouigt-Suire from France completed the podium. Frenchman also won the young rider classification while Chris Blevins from USA team won the mountains jersey.

Trofeo Karlsberg 2015 podium: Vereecken, Haller, Suire (photo: eventfotos.net)
The race contained three road stages with difficult but short steep climbs in each of them and a short time trial on Saturday morning.

The opening stage around Bliesdalheim which was 89km long won Jack Maddux from US team ahead of his teammate Chris Blevins and Filippo Mori from Italy. All of them were a part of the breakaway that went away from the big group and finished over a minute ahead. Jack Maddux attacked three kilometers from the finish and managed to gain almost 30 seconds gap over the six chasers. Peleton arrived 1:49 behind the winner.

Jack Maddux celebrates solo win (photo: rad-net.de)


Results


The morning time trial on second day was a battle between the big names for a stage win but also the battle for the GC between fourteen riders that arrived in front of the peleton on the first stage. The stage win went to Niklas Larsen from Denmark who managed to beat Adrien Costa by four seconds and Mattia Sobrero from Italy by eight seconds.

Thomas Vereecken took the leaders jersey after time trial (photo: eventfotos.net)

The GC battle was exciting as both Americans didn't ride that well to keep their top places. Surprisingly Thomas Vereecken took the leaders jersey after finishing sixth on the stage. Mathias Norsgaard was just 4 seconds slower and jumped to second place in gc while Patrck Haller from Germany moved to third place overall.

Results


On the same day riders faced 79 kilometers stage with three loops around Homburg with two short climbs on every lap. The early breakaway with Alan Banaszek, Hakon Aalrust, Martin Salmon and Louis Louvet stayed in front for the first two laps before the battle for the race win started.

After the only categorized climb of the day the break formed with Pavel Sivakov, Andreas Nielsen, Michael O'Loughlin, Hans Rudland and Martin Salmon, who was the part of early breakaway. The five leaders managed to gain a 40 seconds gap but on the final hill of the day counter attack of thirteen riders went away, including big names like Costa, Larsen and Eenkhoorn. Patrick Haller, the third rider in GC, also managed to get away while Vereecken was left in the group behind. The strong group quickly managed to join the leaders. On the final kilometers the group splitted again and Andreas Stokbro Nielsen won the stage ahead of Martin Salmon and Pavel Sivakov. Thomas Vereecken arrived 34 seconds behind and lost the leaders jersey. Patrick Haller was the new leader.

Andreas Stokbro Nielsen wins the sprint (photo: eventfotos.net)

Results


The final stage around Gersheim was 99km long and contained four big laps around the city. As the previous two road stages, there were two climbs on the each lap. Despite numerous attacks and amazing ride by Pavel Sivakov who managed to join the early breakaway and then went solo over the final climb, the reduced peleton arrived together in Gersheim. The Russian was caught with 600 meters to go and Frenchman Clement Betouigt-Suire won the sprint ahead of Jasper Philipsen and Matteo Sobrero.

Pavel Sivakov riding solo (photo: eventfotos.net)
Patrick Haller finished safely in the bunch and celebrated his first win in stage race at this level.

Clement Betouigt-Suire wins the sprint with a solid gap (photo: eventfotos.net)



Results



Final GC


Patrick Haller rode pretty well in all three Nations Cup events he entered this year but his results were nothing close to the big win the scored this weekend. Being the part of crucial moves on the first and third stage and very good performance time trial was enough but the effort young German put to defend his lead and stays in the decisive attacks was for sure a big one.

Clement Betouigt-Suire won his second stage in Nations Cup event this year and he has beaten Jasper Philipsen again. Two youth riders also fought for the victory in Ster van Zuid Limburg sprint stage earlier this year and guess what, Suire also won. The exciting sprint battle between those two youngsters should keep on going for the rest of the season and another one as both of them were born in 1998. Two future sprint stars in making ? Quite possible.

Niklas Larsen wasn't as good as I expected in Course de la Paix but his time trial win against Costa on second stage shows that young Dane is back to his best and we can expect much more from him in the upcoming races. He was one of the most consistent riders last year being top10 in each of three Nations Cup races last season.

Pavel Sivakov might not score any big results this weekend but he's clearly getting better after injury that kept him out of contention for a while. His impressive attacks on last two stages are sparks of great form that is clearly coming. One of the biggest prospects in junior category for now will clearly win a big race sooner or later this year.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Stefan Bissegger from Switzerland won the final stage of 47th Tour du Pays de Vaud after a sprint from selected group. Dutch rider Nils Eckhoff was second and Allessandro Covi from Italy finished third.

Race podium: Gino Mader 2nd, Adrien Costa 1st, Anthon Charmig 3rd (photo: swisscycling)

Results





Stefan Bissegger sprints to victory on stage 3 (photo: swisscycling)

Adrien Costa finished safely in the front group and sealed the overall win. Both Gino Mader and Anthon Charmig also finished in the front group and kept their places on podium. Charmig also won the white jersey for the best young rider while Frenchman Mathieu Burgaudeau won the polka dot jersey for the best climber

Winner of mountains competition, Mathie Burgeudau (photo: accv.ch)

Final GC



It wasn't a big surprise that Costa defended his title from last year. As the strongest climber in junior category the route was perfect for him. American team was very strong as always in Swiss race and managed to control the race from the first stage till the end. Adrien was safely brought to the feet of crucial climbs on the first and third stage and managed to finish it of perfectly. As one of the best time trialists in junior peleton, the time trial win in Champery was just a confirmation of his potential. I'm starting to believe we have a new cycling star in making, not only in youth categories but in general.

Adrien Costa in yellow jersey (photo: Usa cycling juniors)

Tour du Pays de Vaud was clearly one of the big goals for Gino Mader and he can be more then happy about his performances. Two stage wins and podium in GC just behind Costa is a great result.

Gino Mader wins the first stage in yellow jersey (photo: accv.ch)

After Course de la Paix I thought that Charmig is not strong enough (yet) to compete on the highest level in juniors. I was so wrong. His amazing results in both Trophée Centre Morbihan and Tour du Pays de Vaud proves he's pure talent. Also, he looks like, let's say, not so matured physically, like some of his teammates, which sometimes is a good sign at his age. I strongly believe he's one of the brightest prospects from Denmark (which of course has tons of them and some really struggle to find their path in u23 and elite). 

I was cheering for "Ricky" Verza before the race and I can be happy that he confirmed his level. Usually he can only compete against other Italians in local races, which is not the perfect way to develop, so I was afraid that he won't fit the the level of top juniors but he was more then good. As a pure climber this was a great race for him and while he wasn't able to beat Costa on climbs or reach top3 in GC because of weaker time trial, he can be proud after his first serious race in Nations Cup.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Adrien Costa from US national team won both Saturday's stages in Tour du Pays de Vaud 2015 and extended his lead in overall classification.

Queen stage podium: Charmig, Costa, Belvins (photo: Team Kel-Berg Roskilde)


The morning stage was a queen one with over 15 kilometers climb to Champery in final kilometers. American team managed to keep the race together before they hit the final climb. Costa and his team mate, Chris Blevins where one of the first to attack right from the bottom. Costa was climbing impressive, just like he did last year on similar stage, and won with over a minute gap on Anthon Charmig and Chris Blevins. Gino Mader finished seventh, with the same time as Blevins but lost the jersey.

Results




In the afternoon riders faced crucial time trial in Champery which was 10,3km long with over 1300 meters of climbing in total. Adrien Costa proved to be the strongest rider in the race, winning the stage again with decent gap over Swiss Gino Mader and Anthon Charmig.

Time trial podium: Mader, Costa, Charmig (photo: Swisscycling)


Results

GC after stage 2B:

Tommorow the final stage from Pompaples to St.Prex (112km) awaits with two big climbs in the middle part. Either the US team will try to split the group again or we can see a breakaway going for the stage win. Either way, Adrien Costa will win the race.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Swiss rider Gino Mäder won the opening short prologue in Lucens (2.6k) and took the first leaders jersey in Tour du Pays de Vaud. Second place went to his team mate, Reto Muller who also took the young rider jersey and third to Moroccan Mehdi El Chokri.

Reto Muller and Gino Mader after the first stage (photo: swisscycling)
Results


Today juniors faced first road stage from Onnens to Tartegnin which was 110 kilometers long with three categorized climbs. Despite many attacks US team managed to bring the race together to the feet of the final climb, Côte du Bugnaux. Riccardo Verza was the first one who attacked but he was later joined by Costa and race leader Mäder. The trio gained pretty big gap over the climb and managed to keep it untill the end of the stage. Gino Mäder was the fastest and took his second stage win in the race.


Gino Mäder crossing the line in yellow jersey (photo: swisscycling)
Podium: Verza, Mader, Costa (photo: swisscycling)



Results


Tomorrow will be the crucial day with two difficult stages in Champéry: morning time trial and road stage with mountaintop finish later on. The leading trio of today's stage seems to be the strongest riders of the race but still everything is possible. Mader can challange Costa in time trial while Verza might be able to fight with the American on climbs. Exciting day ahead of us!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

May is quite a busy month for a juniors. After exciting stage races in the Netherlands and France last week riders will now head to Switzerland for Tour du Pays de Vaud, the most mountainous uci rated stage race in under 19 category.

Adrien Costa in yellow jersey (photo: accv.ch)

Swiss race has become the part of Uci Nations Cup for the first time this year so we gonna have nations teams from most of the top cycling countries at the start in Lucens. Total number of 21 teams has been invited.

The previous winners list includes names like Cancellara, Elmiger, Stannard and Moreno Moser. Last three editions were dominated by US riders. Taylor Eisenhart, Geoffrey Curran and Adrien Costa won last three editions. Especially 2014 edition was great for US team as they have put four riders in top five and won three stages.

Costa winning the queen stage (photo: accv.ch)

Four day event will start with short, technical prologue in Lucens on Thursday evening which is 2,6km long.

On the second day riders will face first road stage from Onnens to Tartegnin which is 110,4 km long and contains three categorized climbs. The hardest one is 4,3km long with avg. gradient above 7%. The top of the climb, near Châtel, is just 18km from the finish line and will be the crucial point of the first stage.


Saturday will be decisive for the whole race with two important stages: morning road stage with mountaintop finish in Champéry and difficult time trial later on.

The morning stage to  Champéry is not very long, just 77 kilometers but riders will face a 16km climb at the end of the stage. The average is less then 4% but with false flat and downhill sections it's a monster climb if you consider that we are talking about junior racing here. Last year, similar climb to Les Diablerets caused some big gaps with Adrien Costa putting amazing performance to win solo with over 1:30 gap.



The time trial in Champéry is 10,2 km long and it's up and down almost all the time with a short flat part after the first decent. The whole time trial will be ridden on high altitude. Expect some big gaps here.


Final stage perfectly shows that the race gets much harder this year if we compare it with previous editions. Last year, we had pretty hard stage with short but steep climbs in the middle part and flat kilometers at the end which caused reduced bunch sprint won by Patrick Muller.

This time riders will face two difficult, long climbs in the middle part of the stage from Pompaples to Saint Prex. The first one is over 13 km long and second one is 7km long. From the top it's pretty much downhill and flat all the way but amount of climbing in the first part of the stage may cause a big gaps and small groups should arrive together in Saint Prex.



Favorites

The obvious favorite is again Adrien Costa. American rider has won last year edition with big gap over Kevin Geniets and William Barta. With hard climbs and long difficult time trial it will be very hard to beat Costa on this route. Especially with strong team behind the young rider from USA.

Kevin Geniets from Luxembourg, last year runner-up, is back and looks to improve his postion in GC. Despite the course which didn't really suit him, Kevin finished Trophée Centre Morbihan last week 17th overall and should be in good shape in Switzerland.

Gino Mader is a local favorite. He was nineth last year and I'm pretty sure he will be able to improve his position. Last week he finished 15th in Axel and was second in time trial, just behind Brandon McNulty.

Danish team always has to be considered as a favorites in junior races. Both Anthon Charmig and Mikkel Honore showed great shape last week in Trophée Centre Morbihan finishing first and third in GC but I guess the course might be a little bit too hard for them. My personal pick from Danish team is Rasmus Lund Pedersen, stage winner of Course de la Paix earlier this month.

Tobias Foss is a very solid rider who usually performs well in every type of terrain. He was fourth in Course de la Paix and sixth in Trophée Centre Morbihan. More then enough to consider him as one of the top favorites for podium.

Lastly, my personal favorite is Riccardo Verza. Small Italian climber had a very good results in local scene and won Piccola San Remo this year, one of the two uci rated races he rode. The second one was the longest named race in cycling, Tf GD Dorigo MO Biemmereti MO Cristiano Floriani MO Ferramenta Mazzero, where he finished third from a small group sprint. The route should suit him very well and I'm very curious how far he can go against some of the big names in junior category.

Other names to watch: Reto Muller, Tanguy Turgis, Mathieu Burgaudeau, Vadim Pronskiy, Jakub Otruba, Ziga Jerman.

Race website
Roadbook
Startlist