Thursday, 13 October 2016

After an exciting time trial in which we could experience watching perfect ride from Brandon McNulty it's now time for a main course for juniors: the road race.



History 

Junior road race was first time held in 1976 when Roberto Visentini from Italy won the gold medal. Italy is also the most successful team in history of road race with eleven gold medals and total number of 26 medals. On the other hand the last time when Italy claimed gold came in 2007 when Diego Ulissi won his second title in road race in Aguascalientes. 2007 was indeed special for Italy as they filled the whole podium with Daniele Ratto finishing second and Elia Favilli third. Ulissi is also one of the two riders in history of road race who managed to win twice. The second one is his countryman Gabrielle Palumbo. Felix Gall can join this elite club if he manages to win tomorrow. The history shows that junior road race is much more unpredictable then the time trial. Despite their famous palmares in junior ranks, Cancellara, Sagan, Jungels, Kittel or Kwiatkowski never claimed a medal in World Champs road race. In 2015 we have seen an exciting battle on the last lap with a lot of attacks and splits. In the end Felix Gall won just ahead of Frenchman Clément Bétouigt-Suire and Rasmus Lund Pedersen from Denmark. What's unique is that all three riders were first year juniors and two of them, Gall and Suire, are going to start tomorrow.

Route 



Junior road race, just as time trial, is going to be held entirely on The Pearl Island. Riders will face eight laps of 15,2km circuit which gives a total distance of 135,5 kilometers. You can watch the video recon of the circuit here.The route is obviously the same as in time trial but it doesn't mean it will affect the race in the same way. First of all, the amount of roundabouts will have much bigger impact then it the time trial making the course more technical. We can expect a lot of crashes at the beginning with many less experienced guys from exotic countries at the start. Also, there is a chance that the wind will pick up but probably not high enough to cause the echelons but  enough to make some splits and favors the strongest guys in final laps. Also, it's worth to stay in front of the group as you won't have to waste energy after every roundabout and 90 degree turn.

Inigo Elosegui once again shared his thoughts about the course: "I think that it will be much harder than people think. It is so flat that the speed will be really high during the whole race, and of course there are many teams that don´t want a bunch sprint. Because of that I think that the peloton will be reduced due to the high speed and for sure in the last kilometers some strong riders will try to make a break till the finish line, which is not easy but yes possible after so many fast kilometers in the legs."

Belgian Jasper Philipsen, one of the pre race favorites who unfortunately won't start because of health issues, and future rider of BMC Devo Team expects a big bunch sprint: "The wind is not going to play a big role in my eyes. The race of the u23 will be a good preview. It's difficult to predict how the race will end. The heat is going to play a big role but I guess it's going to be a bunch sprint."

Dutch rider Jarno Mobach, winner of Paris Roubaix, also expects hard racing and fast pace on the technical circuit  "I think the course is rather technical with some sharp corners and a lot of roundabouts, especially with a peloton this big makes it technical. Furthermore, according to the weather forecast there will be quite some wind however I don't think it will play a major role as you change a lot of direction throughout the course. I don't know whether it will be a bunch sprint or not but I hope the race will be hard enough to split up the peloton."

His teammate Nils Eekhoff  shared the opinion: "It’s going to be a hard race. Because of the heat riders will fall off the bunch, but also because of the roundabouts. In the time trial you could go over them in a straight line, but during the road race there is a whole bunch that have to pass them. Then you will get a straight long line of riders what want to go back to the front, this causes a jojo effect what is very intensive. The road race itself can go a lot of ways, it can be a bunch sprint, a solo or a sprint of a selected group."

Favorites

Flat circuit is much easier to control then hilly terrain for sure. We can expect that the winner will come from one of the strongest countries. Small teams with three or four riders can fight for top10 or top5 but to win a medal you have to be well positioned in the bunch on the final kilometers. To do that you need a strong team behind you. Unless the race splits and some guys attacks in the final kilometers.

Despite missing their leader Jasper Philipsen I believe that Belgium will be one of the teams who aim for bunch sprint. Same as France. Billy Innes, sports director of US National Junior Program agrees on that: "The road race will be complicated as you have two major teams (France and Belgium) working for a bunch sprint and everyone else looking to split it up. For sure, no matter his form, Suire is the favorite to win, but it will really depend on how France tries to control the race and how he is able to keep cool. I think anyone who hasn't gone through heat protocol training will be at a disadvantage no matter the pace of the race. If it's windy it'll play into the hands of the Dutch, Norwegians and Danes who are always capable in crosswinds and a selection will be made-but that might happen anyway"

Belgium team will be lead by Gerben Thijssen, who impressed in sprints in recent months. He won two bunch sprints in Trofeo Karlsebrg and won a classic Omloop der Vlaamse Gewesten after a sprint from a small group and just ten days ago he won bunch sprint in Nederhasselt in the last episode of Belgium Cup beating Clement Betouigt Suire on the line. His teammate for tomorrow, Sasha Weemaes was third in that race and can play a key role tomorrow.

France is another team looking for a bunch sprint tomorrow. Clement Betouigt Suire is very strong guy, very matured and fast and clearly one of the favorites despite just one win on international level this year in Tour de I'Abitibi. His recent 2nd place in Nederhasselt shows his shape came just in time. Silver medal from last year also shows what he's capable of. French team is very strong this year, they managed to dominate the junior race during the Euro Champs and tomorrow they will look after their sprinter and try to set him up for a sprint.

Apart from that we have several teams that will try to split the bunch and avoid big bunch sprint finish. Denmark is the first one to mention. Fredrik Rodenberg Madsen, current national champion and 2nd in sprint stage of Keizer der Juniores recently, should be a leader for sprint finish but Danish team is very strong in general, as always, and we can expect them to try split the bunch in final kilometers. Mikkel Bjerg and Julius Johansen showed their class already in Doha finishing second and fourth in TT while Jakob Egholm has been strong all year and could play his own cards either.

USA will be lead by World Champion Brandon McNulty is not a sprinter but you can expect him to finish high from a reduced bunch sprint after a hard race. US team will be another one that will try to split the bunch. Each of their rider is capable of joining a winning move with Gage Hecht, cyclocross specialists, stage winner from Tour de I'Abitibi, Tyler Stites and bronze medalists from TT Ian Garrison.

Slovenian team is another strong one in general. Jaka Primozic leads PCS ranking for juniors but three of his international wins came from two stages and GC of Trophy Milan Panic, where the field wasn't impressive. On the other hand Primozic did well in almost every race he enters including impressive solo win of the queen stage in Oberösterreich Juniorenrundfahrt which also gave him GC win. He's one of the strongest guys in junior category right now and definitely can win tomorrow. Tadej Pogacar recently won Giro della Lunigiana and bronze medal in Plumelec but I think he would prefer harder course.

Netherlands has a strong card to play either. Jarno Mobach, same as Primozic, is kind of a rider who is always up there in every race he enters. His big win came from Paris Roubaix and he already finished tenth in TT in Doha. Nils Eekhoff is fast on the line, especially after hard race. He won sprint stage in Course de la Paix and also finished fourth recently in Plumelec.

Italy is a team that always perform well in junior world champs. I think they would prefer much harder course but they can also aim for glory on flat race. Their two main sprinters should be Michele Gazzoli and Moreno Marchetti. Both barely rode outside of Italy where they managed to score impressive amount of wins but once they ride on international level they usually do well. Gazzoli was ninth in Gent Wevelgem, second in Piccolo SanRemo and third in Ronde Van Vlaanderen. Marchetti won seven races in Italy this year and also finished in top10 of both Beti Metallo and Gent Wevelgem.

Other names to watch tomorrow: Felix Gall, Stefan Bissegger, Marc Hirschi, Joakim Kjemhus, Niklas Markl, Richard Holec, Matus Stocek, Campbell Stewart, Szymon Krawczyk.

Asked some of the riders who they consider as favorites.

Inigo Elosegui says: "I think it is really difficult to name only some favorites for this race, but maybe teams like the Netherlands with Eekhof and Mobach in the lead, Belgium with Philipsen, Switzerland with Bissegger and Hirschi and France with such a strong team will be the main contenders, without forgotten about strong teams like Italy and Denmark." 

Jarno Mobach himself picked up Belgium as main contenders: "I know the Belgian team will go for the sprint with some fast guys such as Thijssen and Philipsen, but I think the guys who play major roles in the nations cups will be in the front as well." while his teammate Nils Eekhoff expects a bunch sprint from smaller group: "Personally I think it is going to be a sprint of a select group of about 40 riders."

Prediction


It will be a bold prediction but I think we won't see a big bunch sprint. Strongest teams will manage to split the bunch in final kilometers. I think McNulty, Mobach and Primozic can complete the podium.

Startlist
Web
Live timing

As the race is going to have live coverage tomorrow don't forget to check my twitter for some live tweets.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Doha, Qatar. Not an ideal place for World Champs, probably you won't deny it. The most important race of the year for juniors are probably gonna held with no spectators which is sad thing. But despite of that I'm still excited to see all the top guys racing against each other once a year. And I'm sure I'm not the only one.

History 

Junior TT World Champs was first run in 1994 when Dean Rogers from Australia won the gold medal in Agrigento. Historically, Germany is the most successive country with six gold medals including two from Marcel Kittel and two in the latest editions with Lennard Kamna winning in 2015 and Leo Appelt in 2016 beating two Americans: Adrien Costa and Brandon McNulty. Apart from Kittel, only two other riders managed to win the gold twice: Fabian Cancellara and Mikhail Ignatiev.
Despite their famous dominance in junior ranks, Denmark have won the gold only once. Mads Würtz Schmidt was the winner is his home race in Copenhagen. In Richmond last year, Leo Appelt put a tremendous ride and set the time that would give him fourth spot in espoirs race. Not bad for a junior.

Route


 Junior time trial, and road race, is going to be held entirely on The Pearl Island. Riders will tackle two loops or nearly 15km circuit which gives a total distance of 28,9 kilometers. You can watch the video recon of the circuit here. Racing on the artificial island means that wind won't affect riders as much as it would if they went through desert as elite riders will. On the other hand, as you could easily spot in u23 TT, the wind can change during the day and early starters might have an advantage. It's not hard to notice that there is crazy amount of roundabouts on the circuit but they shouldn't be a big problem during the time trial. And of course the route is flat, dead flat. The last few hundred meters are uphill but it's less then 1% so riders won't even notice it.

It doesn't mean there are no difficulties at all. Billy Innes, sports director of US National Junior Program shared with me some thoughts about the route: "The course is technical enough that good handling skills will be a plus, but not so crucial. Depending on the how the wind is on race day and how it's channeling through the buildings, that could be a challenge for the later wave of riders. 

He also believes that temperature will be the biggest factor. "It's hot. Very hot in Doha. Managing body temperature will be the most important tactic. If you go out too hard and get too close to the red line then it will be difficult to maintain the pace over the entire distance."

Brandon McNulty, bronze medalist from Richmond and one of the biggest favorites for gold in time trial shares his opinion:  "For both the time trial and road race I think the heat will really play a factor. Everyone reacts differently to heat so the road race may turn into a battle of attrition. Really anything can happen, especially in junior racing" 

Inigo Elosegui, strong rouleur from Basque Country who will ride for Fundacion Eusakdi next year also believes that heat will be more crucial then the wind:  "The course is completely flat, and maybe the wind will not be as decisive as I thought. Of course it will be important to control it, but for example today we have ride in the course and then in the dessert and the course was clearly more covered of wind. There also are many roundabouts that will make the circuit more technical than previously thought, despite it is a circuit with good roads in which you can push hard the pedals. But in my opinion the main problem will be the hot and the dehydration, so more than any other thing it will be essential to drink a lot of water the previous day" 


Favorites 

To be honest I expect pretty unpredictable race. I think there were not many people who picked Marco Mathis as a favorite for u23 race. The wind direction and heat maybe shake the favorites list but that's cycling and you can't be sure how the conditions will affect the race. So my list of favorites is based on the assumption that everyone has pretty similar conditions and the temperature won't affect them that much.

Can't start the list of favorites with any other rider then last year bronze medalist, Brandon McNulty. Young American was already a favorite last year, together with Adrien Costa. McNulty, despite racing a lot on US domestic scene for his Lux Development Team has managed to win three important time trials in junior events. In May he has won Tour du Pays de Vaud TT beating two strong Swiss riders: Stefan Bissegger and Marc Hirschi. Then, less then a month later he won TT and GC during Trofeo Karlsberg putting almost 50 second on second Ethan Hayter and over a minute on third Ian Garrison, his team mate from US team. Brandon is of course current national champion in time trial. With no surprises and no wind change, McNulty is the main favorite for gold.

Both Swiss riders Marc Hirschi and Stefan Bissegger are main opponents for McNulty. Hirschi, current vice European champion in time trial would probably prefer much harder course but with his current shape and all impressive results in TT this year you can't rule him out. Hirschi won time trial during GP Rüebliland Juniors where he has beaten some of his main opponents for tomorrow: Mobach, Philipsen, Bissegger and Eekhoff. He's also current national champion. Also it's worth to notice that Hirschi is one of the riders who decided to start early tomorrow. He will begin his TT effort over two hours before McNulty. He may benefit if the wind will change later on.

Bissegger, current World Champion in the individual pursuit on track, will start his effort as one of the last riders and the course should suit him perfectly. On the hilly course in Plumelec he was fourth and he's the only guy who has managed to beat McNulty this year on European soil as Bissegger won the prologue during Tour du Pays de Vaud. Last year Appelt managed to combine IP on track with TT during the Worlds perfectly and won gold medal and rainbow jersey in both competitions, Bissegger, who has beaten world junior record in IP, can follow his path.

Alexys Brunel, current European Champion in time trial is another strong contender. Same as Hirschi, I believe Brunel would prefer harder and hillier course but on a good day he may fight for a medal. Also, French team has another interesting rider for tomorrow, Florentin Lecamus. He will be one of the first riders to start and it could be one of his benefits. Lecamus is tall, strong rider so dead flat road and windy conditions in Qatar should suit him perfectly.

Iver Knotten from Norway is another strong contender. Knotten, current national champion in TT, has won three important time trials during this season, two of them were part of Nations Cup events against very strong field. First in May he won TT during Course de la Paix beating guys like Brunel, Primozic and Bjerg. Later that month he won again during Trophée Centre Morbihan beating Kazakh Gorbushin once again but also Flicke and Bjerg who are going to be his opponents tomorrow. Just a month ago in Plumelec he finished third in time trial and won bronze medal.

Apart from McNulty, the highest placed rider in Richmond who's going to start tomorrow is Jasper Philipsen, sixth last year.  Future classic contender is also a great rider in TT. I think the main goal for Philipsen is going to be the road race on Friday where he can sprint for gold but I think good result tomorrow would give him confidence before the road race. Current Belgian champion in one of my favorites for tomorrow.

Finally, I have to mention the Germans, especially after what they did today in u23 TT. As I mentioned at the start, Germany has one no less then six gold medals in junior time trial. I doubt they have such strong contender for tomorrow as they did in previous years but I think Bastian Flicke, bronze medalist in IP on track and also won TT during Cottbuser Etappenfahrt while doing OK in every other TT he did this year in the biggest junior races. If he prepared especially for tomorrows effort I believe he may surprise many.

I have asked Billy Innes about the favorites for tomorrow: "I'm always worried about the Germans after getting beaten by them two years in a row and of course Hirschi and Bissenger from Switzerland, Brunel from France and Knotten from Norway are all excellent riders and major threats to McNulty and Garrison." 

Inigo Elosegui shared his opinion:  "In my opinion the main contender for the gold medal will be Brandon McNulty, as he has prove in the last to years how strong he is in time trials, but we can´t forget riders like Brunel, Knotten or Bisseger, that have proved to be in a really good shape and they have a course for pure time trialists. But, despite the circuit doesn´t suits him, I can´t forget about Marc Hirschi, that is very strong in all terrains and it is a good contender for the medals, same as Phillipsen who will surely will want to improve his last year´s result. 

Other names to watch:  Mikel Bjerg, Julius Johansen, Ian Garrison, Jarno Mobach, Jaka Primozic, Nils Eekhoff, Andreas Laknessund.

Startlist
Web
Live timing

As the race is going to have live coverage tomorrow don't forget to check my twitter tomorrow for some live tweets.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

photo: dohacycling2016.com

Hello after a long break! Before I write a preview for junior races in Doha I wanted to grab all the info about selections for the Worlds as probably you won't be able to find a junior road race startlist before organizers post a final one. 

Official selections
Provisional from entry list

Road Race

Albania
Klidi Jaku
Sabri Tafa
Erion Toska

Argentina
Tomas Contte
Nahuel Omar D'Aquila Silva
Nicolas Lujan Molina

Aruba
Jair Kelly


Australia
Macgregor Carter
Alastair Christie-Johnston
Harry Sweeny

Austria
Marco Friedrich
Felix Gall
Florian Kierner
Markus Wildauer

Azerbaijan
Maxim Naperstkov
Mikhail Safarli
Karim Shiraliyev

Bahrain
Saad Alsadi 
 
Belgium
Ruben Apers
Jasper Philipsen
Gerben Thijssen
Brent Van Moer
Lothar Verhulst
Sasha Weemaes

Bosnia & Herzegovina
Goran Dermanovic

Canada
Matthew Staples
Nickolas Zukowsky
Charles-Étienne Chrétien
Thierry Kirouac-Marcassa

Chile
Nicolas Vergara

China
Xin Cai
Sheng Sha
Benneng Yu

Colombia
Adrián Camilo Bustamante

Costa Rica
Reyner Alpizar
Jason Huertas
John Jimenez
Amil Munich
Kevin Rivera
Joseph Villabos

Croatia
Daniel Baltic
Damir Cancar
Filip Kvasina
Fran Majoli
Viktor Potocki
Marko Vujevic

Cyprus
Alexandros Agrotis

Czech Republic
Daniel Babor
Tomas Capek
Richard Holec
Jakub Otruba
Vojtech Sedlacek

Denmark
Mikkel Bjerg
Julius Johansen
Frederik Rodenberg
Mathias Larsen
Jakob Egholm                 
Andreas Kron

Eritrea
Awet Hapbtom
Henok Mulubrhan
Simon Musie

France
Clément Betouigt-Suire
Alexys Brunel
Clément Davy
Nicolas Debeaumarché
Florentin Lecamus-Lambert
Nicolas Malle
Tanguy Turgis

Georgia
Lasha Amiridze
Vano Kvakhadze
Tamaz Tsereteli

Germany
Richard Banusch
Bastian Flicke
Felix Groß
Maximilian Hamberger
Niklas Märkl
Jonas Rutsch

Greece
Georgios Stavrakakis

Hungary
Adam Karl
Barnabas Peak

Iran
Ebrahim Hajiizadehasl
Pouria Hosseini
Amirhossein Jamshidian


Ireland
Jake Gary
Ronan Tuomey
Xeno Young

Israel
Saar Hershler
Guy Weinberg

Italy
Davide Baldaccini
Michele Gazzoli
Moreno Marchetti
Luca Mozzato
Filippo Zana

Japan
Tatsuyoshi Hino
Shunsuke Imamura 

Eugene Kakizaki 
Keitaro Sawada 
Jo Shigemitsu 
Ayumu Watanabe
Mamoru Yoshioka  


Kazakhstan
Igor Chzhan
Ilya Gorbushin
Danill Marukhin
Vadim Pronskiy
Nikita Sokolov
Dinmukhammed Ulysbayev

Latvia
Kristers Ansons

Lebanon
Youssof Mirad

Luxembourg
Colin Heiderscheid
Raphaël Kockelmann
Misch Leyder
Michel Ries

Macao
Chi Son Ieong
Long San Lao 

Mexico
Luis Villalobos 

Mongolia
Tegshbayar Batsaikhan

Netherlands
Lars van den Berg
Nils Eekhoff
Daan Hoole
Dennis van der Horst
Jarno Mobach
Ide Schelling

New Zeeland
James Fouche
Robert Stannard
Campbell Stewart

Norway
Iver Knotten
Andreas Leknessund
Sedrik Engebo Ullebø
Ludvik Aspelund Holstad
Joakim Kjemhus
Håkon Lunder Aalrust

Oman
Noofal Al Habsi
Mohammed Al Hasani 

Poland
Mikołaj Konieczny
Szymon Krawczyk
Bartosz Rudyk

Portugal
Daniel Viegas
João Almeida
Pedro Teixeira

Qatar
Farhan Al Farizi
Gassem Hassan 

Romania
Dan Mihai Babaita
Denis Marian Bulcan

Russia
Ansel Fatkullin 
Aynur Galeev
Stanislav Koniaev
Konstantin Nekrasov
Anton Popov
Nikita Shcherbun 
Timofei Sherstnev
Vladislav Stepanov 

Saudi Arabia
Ahmed Al Bishri
Abdulaziz Alkhuwaytim 
Abdullah Alrashadi
Youself Alyousef

Serbia
Ognjen Ilic
Veljko Stojnic
 
Slovakia
Tomas Person
Samuel Oros
Adrian Foltan
Alex Zeman
Matus Stocek

Slovenia
Ziga Jerman
Ziga Horvat
Tadej Pogacar
Martin Lavric
Jaka Primozic
Nik Cemazar

South Africa
Devon Short
Damean Oosthuizen
Jason Oosthuizen

Spain
Alex Jaime
Pol Hernández
Iñigo Elosegui

Sweden
Andreas Andersson
Jacob Eriksson
Erik Bergström Frisk
Linus Kvist

Switzerland
Stefan Bissegger
Robin Froidevaux
Marc Hirschi
Reto Müller
Joab Schneiter
Valère Thiébaud 

Thailand
Thanakhan Chaiyasombat
Warut Paekrathok
Ratchanon Yaowarat

Trinidad & Tobago
Tyler Cole 

Turkey
Halil Ibrahim Dilek
Ahmet Orencik
Batuhan Ozgur
Oguzhan Tiryaki
Onur Turgut

Ukraine
Yurii Buchenia
Danill Nikulin
Vladyslav Shcherban

United States
Brandon McNulty
Ian Garrison
Gage Hecht
Tyler Stites
Cameron Beard
Bjorn Larson

Venezuela
Franklin Chacon
Yonathan Eugenio
Leandro Galavis 

Vietnam
Thai Phan Hoang



Time trial

Albania
Klidi Jaku
Erion Toska 

Argentina
Tomas Contte 

Aruba
Jair Kelly

Australia
Macgregor Carter
Alastair Christie-Johnston
Harry Sweeny

Austria
Florian Kierner
Markus Wildauer

Azerbaijan
Mikhail Safarli
Karim Shiraliyev

Bahrain
Saad Alsadi 
 
Belgium
Ruben Apers
Jasper Philipsen

Canada
Matthew Staples
Nickolas Zukowsky

China
Xin Cai
Sheng Sha
Benneng Yu

Czech Republic
Richard Holec
Jakub Otruba

Denmark
Mikkel Bjerg
Julius Johansen

Eritrea
Awet Hapbtom
Henok Mulubrhan
Simon Musie

France
Alexys Brunel
Clément Davy
Forentin Lecamus-Lambert

Georgia
Lasha Amiridze
Vano Kvakhadze
Tamaz Tsereteli

Germany
Richard Banusch
Bastian Flicke

Greece 
Georgios Stavrakakis

Hungry
Barnabas Peak

Iran
Ebrahim Hajiizadehasl
Amirhossein Jamshidian
 
 
Italy
Alessandro Covi
Alexander Konychev

Ireland
Ronan Tuomey
Xeno Young

Japan
Keitaro Sawada
Ayumu Watanabe

Kazakhstan
Igor Chzhan
Ilya Gorbushin
Vadim Pronskiy

Luxembourg
Michel Ries

Latvia
Kristers Ansons

Macao
Chi Son Ieong
Long San Lao

Mexico
Luis Villalobos 

Mongolia
Tegshbayar Batsaikhan 
 
Netherlands
Nils Eekhoff
Jarno Mobach

New Zeeland
James Fouche
Robert Stannard

Norway
Iver Knotten
Andreas Leknessund

Portugal
Daniel Viegas
João Almeida

Oman
Noofal Al Habsi

Russia
Aynur Galeev
Stanislav Koniaev
Anton Popov
Nikita Shcherbun 

Rwanda
Jean Paul Rene Ukiniwabo 

Serbia
Ognjen Ilic
Veljko Stojnic

Slovenia
Ziga Horvat
Tadej Pogacar
Jaka Primozic
Nik Cemazar

Saudi Arabia
Abdulaziz Alkhuwaytim 
Abdullah Alrashadi

South Africa
Damean Oosthuizen
Jason Oosthuizen

Spain
Iñigo Elosegui

Switzerland
Stefan Bissegger
Marc Hirschi

Thailand
Thanakhan Chaiyasombat

Trinidad & Tobago
Tyler Cole

Turkey
Halil Ibrahim Dilek
Ahmet Orencik
Oguzhan Tiryaki
Onur Turgut 

Ukraine
Yurii Buchenia
Danill Nikulin
Vladyslav Shcherban

United States
Brandon McNulty
Ian Garrison

Vietnam
Thai Phan Hoang

Friday, 24 June 2016

American rider Brandon McNulty has won 29th edition of Trofeo Karlsberg. Ethan Hayter from Great Britain finished second while McNulty's team mate Ian Garrison was third.

The riders faced traditional route with three road stages and the crucial time trial on second day of racing. The first stage from Völklingen to Herbitzheim was already a heavy test as riders faced wet roads and thunderstorms on the road of Saarland state in southwestern Germany.

We had a move of three riders just before the first bonus sprint. Matteo Jorgenson from US team took off together with Ziga Horvat from Slovenia and Alfred Wright from Great Britain. Behind them a group of eight riders formed with Brandon McNulty. The three leaders managed to keep a minute gap over the peloton and the chasers was finally swallowed by a peloton.
Stage one profile (photo: radsport.ch)
 With no more then 30 kilometers from the finish we had a group of around 50 riders in the main peloton while the leading trio was also caught. Once the peloton was grouped we had another move on sever riders incudling McNulty again but also Ethan Heyter, Michel Ries and Matus Stocek but the peleton didn't let them go too far and despite several attacks in the final kilometers the stage finished with a slightly uphill bunch sprint won by Gerben Thijssen from Belgium. Matus Stocek from Slovakia was second while Ziga Horvat took third. 51 riders were left in contention for the overall title finishing in the front group.

Gerben Thijssen wins the opening stage (photo: Peter Melchior)
The second stage was clearly the easiest one with just one climb and the distance of 79 kilometers. The stage around Homburg ended with a bunch sprint and Gerben Thijssen has won again, this time beating two guys from GB: Fred Wright and Ethan Hayter.

Thijssen narrowly beats Wright on the line (photo: http://trofeo.gersheim.de/)

In the evening we had a 16,9km long time trial from Rimling to Rubenheim which was clearly the crucial stage for the whole race. Brandon McNulty took an impressive win with 46 seconds gap over Ethan Hayter and took the leaders jersey. Ian Garrison was third, 1:14 back. Previous race leader, Gerben Thijssen finished 44th, almost three minutes back.

The three best riders in the time trial also took top three spots in the GC. Before the final stage McNulty leads the GC 44 seconds ahead of Ethan Hayter and 1:16 on Garrison.

Stage three profile (photo: radsport.ch)
The final stage around Reinheim was again a lumpy one with three climbs waiting for the riders. Rico Brucker from Germany decided to go solo and managed to reach over a three minutes gap over the peleton. Behin him, the US team was able to control the field and didn't let any of their main rivals in the GC to get away. Finally Brucker was caught close before the finish on second lap (from three). We didn't have to wait long for another attack as Jakub Otruba from Czech Rep took off and was let by US team to gain a little gap. With around 10 kilometers to go Otruba was caught and we were heading to another bunch sprint.

Matus Stocek wins the final stage (photo: saarbruecker-zeitung.de)

First year junior Matus Stocek from Slovakia was the fastest. Ziga Jerman took another podium spot for Slovenia while Niklas Markl from Germany , another first year junior, finished third. Brandon McNulty finished safely in the bunch and sealed the overall win.

Brandon McNulty wins the GC (photo: USA cycling juniors)
I have spoke to Brandon after his win and asked him to share his thoughts from three days of racing in Germany:

In the first Stage we tried to race very aggressive and were able to split the field a few times, only to have it all come back together. It eventually came down to a field sprint and I finished with the lead group. Stage 2.1 we had a rider in the break all day so it really took the pressure off of us to chase so we were able to stay fresh for the TT later in the day. For the time trial I felt great and was able to establish a large gap and also had a teammate in third which was great. Stage 3 was all about defending and the team road amazing at the front to keep it all together! Getting this victory meant a lot to me, especially after Tour du Pays de Vaud where I didn't get quite the result I was hoping for. It's always great to win, but even more special when it was a real team effort like this one was!
Full results
Race videos

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Niels Eekhoff from the Netherlands won the final hilly stage around Terezin which completed 45th edition of Course de la Paix. Italian rider Leonardo Marchiori finished second while first year junior from Germany, Niklas Markl was third. Christopher Blevins finished safely in the bunch and sealed the overall win.

Nils Eekhoff wins the final stage (photo: Patress.cz)


Stage results


Overall Blevins finished 24 second ahead of Russian rider Evegeny Kazanov, winner of the queen stage on Saturday and 28 seconds ahead of Jaka Primozic from Slovenia. Thanks to his consistency and final stage win Nils Eekhoff took the white jersey for points classification while former race leader Alexys Brunel won polka dot jersey as a best climber. Andrea Innocenti from Italy was the best first year junior, finishing seventh in the GC.
Chris Blevins celebrates overall win (photo: Patress.cz)

Final general classification



Without Brandon McNulty on the start the race was defiantly wide open this year. Chris Blevins was the most versatile and consistent rider finished up in all three crucial stages. The didn't win any of them but was part of the decisive move on the first stage, rode a solid TT and attacked hard on the queen stage to drop his main rivals. Thanks to a great support from his team he was able to defend the yellow jersey on the final stage. US team brings home second GC win in a row from Course de la Paix.

Rasmus Lund and Alexys Brunel may not be the strongest climbers but they both showed pure class in Czech Republic. Lund scored pretty unique results winning two stages in a row (last one in 2015 and opening one this year) while Brunel rode great in the hilly first stage and time trial but didn't manage to keep the jersey in the high mountains.

I wasn't familiar with name Evgeny Kazanov before but after his impressive win on the queen stage it's now a guy to watch for the rest of the year, especially on the climbs

Jaka Primozic proved that he's one of the most versatile rider in junior category. After fourth place in Gent Wevelgem and fifth in Trofeo Citta di Loano he was third in Peace Race. The big win is right around the corner.

Meet Jasper Philipsen, named "young Flandrien of the year" in 2014, winner of Askö Radjugendtour 2014, Belgian National Junior Champion in time trial in both 2015 & 2016. Winner of Guido Reybrouck Classic, Ster Van Zuid Limburg and E3 Harelbeke in 2016 .



Personally the first time when I head about Jasper Philipsen was at Askö Radjugendtour 2014 where you won three stages and general classification. How do you recall the race from almost two years perspective? 

Everybody included myself were wondering about my performance there. I never thought about winning when I went to there. I just wanted to test myself on the international level. And that ended in a big surprise.

From your earliest years you are racing with Acrog Balen BC team. Can you tell us more about the team and how does it fit for you? 

 I started there because of Tom Boonen who also rode there in his youth years. It was also not far from my home, and the management of young riders is good. And most of everything, the friendship that we have in the team is great. 

In 2015, despite being first year junior, you have managed to win national title in time trial and placed high in big classics like Paris Roubaix and Guido Reybrouck Classic. Do you have any regrets about last season ? And which result was the most important one ? 

Last year I was happy with my progress. Mostly in the time trials, in which I developed better than the year before. My time trial in Richmond where I ended 6th was my most important one. But I also had a few bad moments. Where I expected more from. But that's racing. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. That's good to keep me focused. 

 This year you won Guido Reybrouck Classic, E3 Harelbeke and Ster Van Zuid Limburg, which race was the hardest to win and why ? 

 The hardest races to win are the races that I've lost like Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Paris Roubaix... ;-) The hardest was Guido Reybrouck Classic, a nice duel between Ethan Hayter and me. 

 In Paris Roubaix juniors where you finished 5th many considered you as the biggest favorite. Can you tell us more about who the race unfold ? Are you happy with the fifth place ? 

 The race stayed long closed. Only a lot of crashes was the subject for most of the race. I was involved twice, but without serious damage. It was Tanguy Turgis and me who turned up the race on the last five cobblestone sectors. Together with Andreas Kron we rode away on Carrefour de l'Arbre. I felt very strong and did a lot of work. But suddenly 10km before the velodrome my light went out. I overestimated myself. So after the finish I was very disappointed. But I learned a lot from the race. 

 What are your plans for the second part of the season ? I guess World Championships in Qatar are the biggest goal ? 

 Now I have still two goals for the next month. Belgian road championship and the Course de la Paix (we spoke at the beginning of May, before those events, Jasper won the time trial again and unfortunately crashed out of Course de la Paix - ed. Tom). Than I will take a brake till the end of July, to focus on my exams and build up for the second part of the season with the main goals: European and World Championships. 

 Who do you consider as your biggest rivals for the gold medal in Qatar ? 

 That's difficult to say. There are a lot of good riders in our age category. You've seen that last year in Richmond. There where three first years juniors on the podium. Also the route is going to be a crucial factor. Hopefully that the wind could play a role. 

 Strong on cobbles, very good in time trial and fast on the line, that's how many people sees you but I would like to ask you what do you see as your weakest point ? 

 I will never become a real climber. But I'm curious to see in which direction I will develop myself. At the moment I like to taste from all the parts of cycling and see which suits me the best. 

 In few months you will end your two years journey as a junior and move to u23 ranks. How do you see your 2017 season ? 

 There are a lot of changes that going to happen in 2017. First of all,  I have to find a team where I can develop myself. Then I will go to university so it's going to be a challenge to combine my studies with cycling. But there are a lot of riders, who proved that it's possible. I'm motivated and looking forward to it. 

 In future, do you see yourself as a cobbled specialists ? Or you would like to focus more on sprints and time trials ? 

That depends on how I will evolve. At the moment I love to ride the cobble classics. I always watched them on television. Those are in Belgium upward degree. 

 Every time when a young Belgian starts to shows sparks of talent, cycling fans and journalists starts to think about "the next Boonen". Do you feel the pressure being the next big hope for Belgium ? 

 No absolutely not! They aren't desperate in Belgium 😉. At the moment there are a lot of good young pro riders in Belgium. My way is still to long to look forward to be the 'next Boonen'. I have to prove a lot. But I will work hard for chasing my dream to become a professional rider.

Thanks Jasper!

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Evgeny Kazanov from Russia won the queen stage of Course de la Paix 2016 from Teplice to Altenberg. Vadim Pronskiy from Kazakhstan finished second while Jaka Promozic from Slovenia took third. Fourth today, Chris Blevins is the new race leader.

Kazanov wins solo (photo: Patress.cz)

Despite many attacks peleton stick together at the bottom of first of two ascents to Komáří Vížka. Kazanov was one of the first to attack and quickly gained a solid gap over shattered group. Behind the Russian group of ten riders formed with Blevins and Pedersen. Leader Brunel was 35" behind the chasers. On the descent two groups combined but Kazanov already had over 2:30 gap.

The final ascent was too hard for both Pedersen and Burnel as they struggled to keep the pace of group who was chasing Kazanov. Chris Blevins attacked after 1,5km of the climb and was joined by Primozic and Pronkisy. The trio worked well together but didn't manage to catch Kazanov who won the stage solo with 11" over Pronvisky and 13" on Primozic. Blevins was right behind them and thanks to attack on the first stage and TT he took the leaders jersey.

Blevins on his way to the yellow jersey (photo: patress.cz)

Alexys Brunel put a great effort but couldn't keep the pace with the best especially with his team struggling with injuries from previous stage. He finished 26th over five minutes down.


In general classification Blevins leads with 24" on Kazanov and 33" on Pronkiy and Primozic. Tomorrow riders face the final hilly stage around Terezin.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Iver Knotten from Norway won the stage 2A in Course de la Paix, time trial around Trebenice. Ilya Gorbushin from Kazakhstan finished second. Mikel Bjerg from Denmark completed the podium. Fifth in the time trial, Alexys Brunel is the new race leader.

Alexys Brunel on his road to the yellow jersey (photo: Patress.cz)
Alexys Brunel takes a yellow jersey after finished fifth in the time trial. Dane Rasmus Lund Pedersen was eleventh in the TT and dropped to the second place in GC, eight seconds behind the leader. Chris Blevins from USA sits third, 38 seconds back. Jury decided to modify results of the first stage. Peleton lost 1:18 instead of 18 seconds. The change have a big impact on the GC as now it will be much harder to beat Brunel and Pederesn in fight for the GC.
Stage 2a winner Iver Knotten (photo: Patress.cz)
Tadej Pogacar from Slovenia won the second stage of the day, 62,4km long around Roudnice nad Labem. Ludvik Holstad from Norway was second and Laurens Huys from Belgium finished third. The trio attacked in the final kilometers and managed to keep the small gap over the peleton. Alexys Brunel finished safely in the bunch and retains the yellow jersey before the queen stage tomorrow.

Tadej Pogacar sprints for the win (photo: patress.cz)
Alexys Brunel is ready to fight for the overall win:

"I'm very happy. Today was successful day, but I did not arrive at the Peace Race to taste the famous local cakes. My wish is to win it. Tomorrow will come the hills and for those I'm well prepared. Regardless of what our team suffered as unpleasant crashes, I want finish our goal and win the race on Sunday. Yes, every bruise cost us a lot of energy, but the Peace Race is for us a much bigger prize thanks to his peace mission so because of that we will fight until the end"

 Stage results

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Danish rider Rasmus Lund Pedersen won the opening stage of 45th Course de la Paix. His breakaway companion Alexys Brunel finished second. Jonas Rutsch from Germany finished third twelve seconds behind.

Pedersen beats Brunel on the line (photo: Patress.cz)

The stage started with an attack from Kazakh rider Ilya Gorbushin. He managed to gain over four minutes gap as no team wanted to take responsibility for a chase. Final on the climb Rasmus Lund and Alexys Brunel attacked on Mukařov climb and quickly bridged to Kazakh rider. Gorbushin wasn't able to keep the pace with two leaders and was dropped to the main group.

From the peleton four chasers tried to counter attack: Niels Eekhoff, Chris Blevins, Jonas Rutsch and Andrea Innocenti. On the descent there was a series of crashes, with Felix Gall being one of the affected riders, luckily without serious injuries. The four chasers finished just twelve seconds behind Pedersen and Brunel. According to US team the peleton came around 1:30 behind but because of another crash in the final three kilometers they were give just about the same time as chasers.

Podium after the first stage (photo: Patress.cz)
Here's what the stage winner said after the stage:

"It was a very difficult stage, but I wanted to try to attack and I am so happy because I avoid crashes in the final kilometers which involved some of my colleague. The race will continue tomorrow with the time trial. After that I'll know how far I can go in this race."

Results

1. Rasmus Lund Pedersen
2. Alexys Brunel
3. Jonas Rutsch +12
4. Nils Eekhoff +12
5. Chris Blevins +12

Full results

After exiting classics campaign the best riders in junior category now starts the second part of the season with one of the most important and prestigious races of the year, Course de la Paix.

The four day event which start on Thursday is usually considered as a Tour de France for juniors. First because of being part of Nations Cup which is a guarantee for strong international lineup. Second, because it's a difficult race with time trial, mountains, sprinters stages and uphill finishes. All what you really need for a proper stage race. Finally, the race has a long history and tradition, not only as junior event. The first junior race was held in 1965 and is running every year since 1974 with impressive list of previous winners like Cancellara, Kwiatkowski (twice), Kreuziger or Velits.

Final podium: Costa, McNulty, Ilichev (photo: Patress.cz)
 Last year, American team dominated the race scoring 1-2 in time trial, queen stage and GC. Brandon McNulty won the whole race surprising many as he didn't have any big results on European soil before. Adrien Costa confirmed his status as future GC contender, won the queen stage and finished second in time trial and general classification. Nikolai Ilichev from Russia completed the podium.

McNulty and Costa celebrates their impressive 1-2 in Zinnwald (photo: Patress.cz)
The four day event brings a traditional route which is pretty much the same as last year. On the first day riders will face 102,5 km long stage around Litomerice featuring two categorized climbs: Sedlo after 14.2 kilometers and Mukarov after 69.4 km. Last year, the stage was five kilometer shorter and in crash marred bunch sprint Russian track specialist Sergey Rostovcev won ahead of Bram Welten and McNulty.


On the second day riders will face two stages: morning time trial in Třebenice which is always a crucial event in terms of GC and hilly stage around Roudnice nad Labem with uphill finish in the afternoon. The morning time trial is usually around 11 kilometers long and run on the same course each year. In 2008 Michał Kwiatkowski was the first and only rider who managed to set time with average over 50 km/h. Last year Brandon McNulty was very close with a time 49,979 km/h

In the afternoon riders will ride a big loop around Roudnice nad Labem which is flat in comparison to the other stages with a total distance of 62,4 km. The last kilometers is slightly uphill, around 4% avg and may cause some splits in the main bunch. Aleksandr Kulikovskiy from Russia won last year. Peter Sagan won the same finish back in 2008.

Third day brings a queen stage of the race. Riders will start in Teplice and finish in German town Zinnwald facing two difficult ascents to Komáří Vížka and a total distance of 100 kilometers. The end of the second climb is around ten kilometers before the finish line. Last ten kilometers are slightly uphill with last 800m kicks harder again. Last year Adrien Costa caused big splits on the climb and still managed to hang on with the race leader, McNulty. The duo finished together aiming one of the greatest wins of the season.


The final stage from around Terezín is also a difficult one as riders will have to pass a GPM three times before heading back to Terezín for a flat finish. Last year the stage ended with a successful breakaway. Rasmus Lund won ahead of Vadim Pronskiy. Bunch sprint for the third place won Leo Appelt.


Favorites

This year we have a totally different situation in the favorites lists. The American team does not bring the last year winner Brandon McNulty (who will join the team for the next block of racing including Pays Vaud and Karlsberg). For me the leader should be Chris Blevins who showed his climbing abilities in Tour du Pays de Vaud last year working for Costa. Also, I would take a look at Cameron Beard as he had some impressive results in US domestic scene and lately has won a one day race in Nieuwerkerken.

Denmark had an impressive series of wins in GC here with four straight yellow jerseys between 2011 and 2014. Last year no one could compete with the duo from USA but as those guys are not here I would say Denmark should be back as top favorites for the overall win even tough there is Tour de Himmelfart held on the same time and some of the top juniors from Denmark starts there (like Johansen and Charmig). Rasmus Lund won the final stage last year and I think he could improve his tenth place in GC this time. If not, maybe Jakob Egholm who has recently won two events of Danish Cup for juniors will prove his level here and fight for the victory.

World Champion Felix Gall is also here. He was already 11th in GC last year and seventh on the queen stage and lately this year he did well already in Piccolo SanRemo where he finished sixth.

Dutch team can rely on Niels Eekhoff. Dutch rider recently finished second in Tour de l'Eure in France and did great in Roubaix earlier this year when finished second.Last year as a first year junior Eekhoff was very consistent in stage races and scored several top tens. This race could be his breakthrough and first big win.

Finally Tadej Pogacar, recently seventh in Piccolo SanRemo from Slovenia who finished seventh in GC last year could aim to improve his result.

Also watch out for Niklas Markl from Germany. First year junior could surprise many here. He can climb and time trial but now it's time for him to prove it in junior category.

Other notable starters: Alexys Brunel, Dinmukhammed Ulysbayev, Aynur Galeev, Jacob Eriksson, Jakub Otruba, Sedrik Ullebo

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