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


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

German rider Max Kanter won 34th edition of Internationale Junioren Driedaagse. Swiss rider Mario Spengler finished second and Matthew Bostock from Great Britian was third.

Final podium: Gino Mader, Max Kanter, Matthew Bostock (photo: juniorendriedaagse.nl) 

Three day event contained four stages including short time trial and three road stages with cobbles and bergs waiting for the riders. The first stage around Sluiskil was very nervous right from the start with many crashes and breakaway attempts. Alex Braybrooke and Ruben Bisschop was one of the first attackers but were brought back after the first cobbled section. Brandon McNulty tried to get away on the second one but was also reeled back by the bunch.

Max Kanter leads the peleton over the cobbles (photo: juniorendriedaagse.nl)

After McNulty was cought we had another try by four riders: Matthew Bostock, Ide Schelling, Erik Relanto and Jarri Stravers. They kept small gap over the reduced peleton and shared bonus seconds. Once the peleton reached the finish line before taking three short laps around Sluiskil the leaders had 20 seconds gap. Gino Mader tried to ches the leaders alone but failed. Another group attacked soon after and managed to join the leading four: Thomas Vereecken, Max Kanter, Alex Baybrooke, Marten Kooista, Karl Patrick Lauk, Julius Domnick, Ramon van Bokhoven and Bastian Flicke.

Eleven leaders working well at the front (photo: juniorendriedaagse.nl)

The leaders worked well together and increased the gap to 30 seconds at the second time when they crossed the line. Behind, Brandon McNulty decided to chase alone. After amazing effort McNulty joined the leaders just before the 10km mark. The gap over the chasers that includes Michael Storer, Mario Spengler and few others was 40 second. Reduced peleton was over a minute behind. Karl Patrick Lauk won the sprint from the leading group ahead of Max Kanter and Brandon McNulty. Estonian become the first race leader.

Karl Patrick Lauk celebrates stage win (photo: juniorendriedaagse.nl)

Results



The second stage was a short time trial (7 km) around Axel. Brandon McNulty managed to win his second time trial of the season and took the leaders jersey. Gino Mader was second and Michael Storer third. Karl Patrick Lauk lost over a minute and dropped to 16th place in GC.

Results

Video from the second stage

On the same day riders faced 99.6km long stage around Axel that consisted four laps around the town with some more cobbles waiting for the riders. Despite many attacks like Bob Kerkhofs one, the bunch stayed pretty much together for the first two laps but the cobbles made a selecton from behind and peleton was reduced. Karl Patrick Lauk attacked and was joined by Alex Braybroooke, Stijn Demolder and Florian Stork. The four leaders kept small gap over the bunch for quite a time. Once they were caught the crucial move happened. At the cobbles Max Kanter attacked with few others and formed 11 men leading group with Bostock, Welten, Braybrooke and few others. McNulty was left behind. Despite his effort to bring back the leaders gap went over a minute with twenty kilometers to go.

Bram Welten wins the sprint (photo: juniorendriedaagse.nl)

The leaders was never brought back and Bram Welten, the best sprinter in the leading group, won the stage with solid gap over his breakway companions. Braond McNulty finished in the bunch, 51 second behind the leaders.

Max Kanter took the leaders jersey  (photo: juniorendriedaagse.nl)

Results

Video from the third stage


The final queen stage Velzeke was the only one with short, sometimes steep hills that riders had to face including some well known like Leberg and Langedries. Four riders kept small gap over the bunch: Bjorg Lambrecht, Jarno Mobach, Bob Olieslagers and Nathan Draper. Behind, the German team managed to keep the main bunch together and didn't let any dangerous riders to gain a time despite numerous attacks by McNulty and others. The leading four decided stage win between themselves and Bjorg Lambrecht was the fastest in the uphill sprint.

Bjorg Lambrecht wins the uphill sprint (photo: juniorendriedaagse.nl)

Results

Video from the fourth stage

Max Kanter won second stage race this season after winning La Coupe du Président de la Ville de Grudziadz in May. Both times he was the part of crucial move and rode a great time trial and then put a huge effort to defend his jersey. In Poland, the field was good but nothing close to the one he faced in Axel. Being able to keep the victory despite big attacks from guys like Bostock, Spengler and especially McNulty shows how strong Kanter is this season. Not only on cobbles and time trial but he is also able to climb. Top favorite for upcoming Trofeo Karlsberg.

Brandon McNulty is beatable! After Course de la Paix I wasn't sure anyone can beat him this year but in such an open race like Axel anything can happen. He missed the move on first stage but managed to bridge but on the third stage it didn't work and he lost the GC. Still, he was the strongest in time trial and possibly the strongest on the hills so it's only a matter of time when he wins again.

Bram Welten took Enzo Wouters' spot from last year and can be considered as the best sprinter in junior category. I am waiting to see him against Suire, Philipsen and Rostovtcev in pure sprint.

 Danish rider Anthon Charmig won 22nd edition of Le Trophée Centre Morbihan. Michael O'Loughlin from Ireland finished second and Charmig's teammate Mikkel Honore was third. Charmig also won a jersey for a young rider.

Final podium (Photo: Trophée Centre Morbihan facebook)

The two day event started on Saturday with the longest stage of the race (118.8km) from Brandivy to Elven. Riders faced three short climbs in the first part of the stage before heading to Elven to tackle pretty flat circuit around the city. Nicolas Dalla Valle won the first GPM and soon after we had first successful brakaway. German Leo Appelt, one of the riders to watch in 2015, attacked solo and managed to gain a small gap. His gap at highest point reached over a minute and young German managed to win sprint and second GPM but after around fifty kilometers of racing he was caught.

On the ascent of Côte de Cadoudal Anthon Charmig attacked solo and gained small gap over numerous counter attackers behind. He reached the top of the climb solo and his gap was close to thirty seconds. Behind, group of around 15 riders formed and they managed to join Charmig before the race reached circuits in Elven but soon after we had a big bunch at the front again. Sprint coming ?

Charmig and Honore celebrates 1-2 on first stage (photo: Le Telegramme)


Despite many attacks on the circuit no one managed to get away until 5km mark. It was the moment when race was won. Mikkel Honore and Anthon Charmig jumped from the bunch and managed to keep a small gap right until the end. Honore won the stage and took the leaders jersey. Behind, Sergey Rostovtcev lead the bunch for third place.

Results



The final day of racing started with a short seven kilometers long time trial from Réguiny to Naizin. Irish rider Michael O'Loughlin was the fastest. Russain Nikolai Iliichev was second and Louis Louvet from France was third. Anthon Charmig finished sixth and took the leaders jersey.

Charmig riding for yellow (Photo: Trophée Centre Morbihan facebook)
Results




Before the final stage Charmig had six seconds gap over O'Loughlin and seven over Honore and Iliichev. Riders were facing similiar profile to the opening stage. Route from Noyal-Pontivy to Locminé (102.2km) included few short climbs and some dirt road sections before flat circuit around Locminé in the last kilometers.

The final stage started with an attack from three riders: David Klatik (Slovakia), Igor Koval (Kazakhstan) Iver Skaarseth (Norway). Danish team was happy to let these three riders go as the highest placed rider from those three, Skaarseth, was still almost three minutes behind the leader in GC.The breakaway shared sprint and GPM points in the first fifty kilometers of racing.

Anthon Charmig on dirt section (Photo: Trophée Centre Morbihan facebook)


Once the early breakaway were caught, fourteen riders attacked, including vice leader O'Loughlin but the Danish team managed to bring them back quickly. Charmig was very active on front, trying to keep the peleton togther. Despite many attacks from Hecht, Detant, Eenkhoorn, Foss and many others peleton stayed together and the stage was decided in sprint.


Clément Bétouigt-Suire celebrates win (photo: Marion Denis)


Clément Bétouigt-Suire won a stage ahead of Jasper Philipsen and Sergey Rostovtcev. Charmig finished safely in the bunch and sealed overall victory.


Results



Final GC





Anthon Charmig scored the biggest win of his career just a few days after winning Tour of Himmelfart in Denmark. He's clearly in shape and I'm sure it's not his last win in this season. Danish team showed their strength again keeping the bunch together on the final stage.

Michael O'Loughlin proved to be one of the top contenders for rainbow jersey in time trial in Richmond. Amazing time trial gave him second place in GC.

In sprints Russians were great on stage two but the final one was a duel between first year juniors: Bétouigt-Suire and Philipsen. Both amazing in sprints but it was Suire  who won and scores his first win in uci rated race this year (previously he won a sprint stage in Ster van Zuid-Limburg. Philipsen, despite loosing the sprint in final stage rode a very good race finishing fifth in GC and top 10 in all three stages.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Adrien Costa recently finished second in Course de la Paix, helping his teammate Brandon McNulty to win the overall. Young American answered few of my questions about his recent performances, pressure, season goals and why he loves the Giro.

First of all, congrats for your recent stage win and second place in GC during the Peace Race. As a team you rode pretty much a perfect race. 

Thank you! I don't think we could have imagined this race going nearly as well as it did- not only first American to ever win, but 1-2 overall, sprint and mountain jerseys, and team GC. Is there anything else we missed? 

Can you tell us more how the race unfold ? Especially the queen stage to Zinnwald. Seems like you and Brandon McNulty caused some big gaps! 

 We had the race very much under control from start to finish. On stage 1, we stayed in front and out of trouble and finished safely with 3 in the top 15. In the TT, Brandon had an amazing ride and we were able to secure 1st and 2nd overall. The evening 2b stage was again pretty controlled as a lot of teams were riding for the sprint. Zinnwald was the big day that we were looking forward to. Coming into the first climb, it was very fast and lots of fighting for wheels, so I came into it in the first couple spots. I had my teammate Ethan set a hard pace through the town, then I took over and held a solid pace to the top of the climb, accelerating over the last km to bring the group down to 5. Brandon and I forced the others to rotate, but we were caught by a group right before the 2nd time up the climb. Again, I went to the front at a sustained pace and by the last km of the ascent, only the Russian rider was left with Brandon and I. I was still feeling good and wanted to drop the Russian, so I forged on ahead. I crested the climb with 10 seconds or so, and saw that Brandon had been able dropped the Russian. I waited and then we smashed it all the way to the finish and the rest is history. 

It was your first big race with Brandon as a teammate. How did you both cooperate being the strongest riders in the race ? 

The cooperation was never a problem because as his teammate, I respected his yellow jersey and did everything I could to protect it, and as a second priority protect my spot and give us some more time buffer. So in that sense there was no problem at all. Having the two of us up there made the race that much easier, because there was always a back up in case one of us missed a move, had some bad luck, or faltered... thankfully none of which happened! 

For your second year as a junior you have joined California Giant Cycling Team. Can you tell us more about the team and why did you choose this one ? 

I joined Cal Giant because it is a very well reputed American development/ amateur team that has proven over the years to be an amazing stepping stone into the pro ranks. They are also local for me in California so having teammates and staff nearby makes things a lot easier and more pleasant as well. Cal Giant also works very closely with Specialized, and this is not only advantageous to us riders equipment wise, but also with all the knowledge that such a cutting edge company possesses. 

Riding for both California Giant Cycling Team and US national team for juniors give you unique chance to compete in both US national series races and biggest junior races. How would you compare them ? 

Yes, it is definitely a great combination between racing some good US races in the early season then complementing that with a couple months in Europe. Thankfully I have been able to have quite a bit of "euro" experience in the last few years thanks to USA Cycling on top of what I can do in the States, which helps tremendously in progressing towards the pro ranks. The style of racing is very different and hard to compare, so while it may be physiologically much harder to win a race like Redlands or Gila, winning something like the Peace Race requires immense ability to stay in front, out of trouble, make the right tactical calls, etc on top of the physical demands. 

What are your next goals for this season ? Are you going to defend your title in Tour de Pays de Vaud ? 

 Pays de Vaud is for sure the next goal of the season. I was super happy to see it upgraded to Nations' Cup this year and it truly deserves it- fun and innovative courses, professionally run, and really great organizers made it a race to remember last year and I hope to be able to defend the title. After that, I hope the team and I can be good at Trofeo Karlsberg, then it's back to the new continent for Nationals and l'Abitibi. 

Many fans, journalists or even riders believes that you are one of the greatest cycling prospects in recent years. Do you feel the pressure during the races, especially in juniors ?

 If anything, hearing that people think that of me humbles me and motivates me further to reach my goals and aspirations. The only pressure I feel to perform comes from within, and while I can obviously be disappointed when a race does not go like I wished it did, there is never the feeling of deceiving anyone or not living up to expectations. I have been blessed with a really positive support system and feel like I can thrive and reach my maximum potential. 

This year we have World Champs in you country, in Richmond. As a silver medalist in time trial from Ponferrada, the TT is an obvious goal but what do you think about the road race ? Do you see yourself as a contender for this type of course ? 

The TT for me is the big goal of the season, so I haven't given the road race very much thought yet. I've seen the course and although it is not particularly suited to my strengths, I am sure there will be an incredibly strong USA team lining up, and we will have the support of thousands of American fans behind us, so I think there is the possibility for a really good result there. 

 How would you describe yourself as a rider ? Tell us more about your characteristic.

I would definitely classify myself as a climber that can time trial pretty well. I really like long steady efforts, which can be pretty rare in junior races, but I don't ever let a course limit what I can do for myself or for the team, and always try to use what there is to my advantage. 

 As a strong climber and time trialist your dream race should be Tour de France but maybe you have some other races that you hope to win one day ? 

Honestly the racing at the a race like the Giro d'Italia, where every day is a battle, really inspires me. The passion of the fans, the love for the sport, the incredible places the route takes the riders, the attrition of the race, all of that creates this magical atmosphere to which I am super attracted. That being said, I don't think anyone would mind winning the Tour! 

 The season is still long way from the end but I'm sure you're looking forward for next year already which will be the first one in u23 category. What are your expectations ? Would you like to ride the biggest races like Tour de l'Avenir already in 2016 ? 

Next year I just hope to continue to be able to race in Europe with the national team and do well in races that aren't suited to my characteristics. I think really learning how to be a great racer, not just physically but tactically, being in the right place at the right time, saving energy, and everything else is super important as a young cyclist trying to make it to the pros. That being said, if the opportunity presents itself to ride a big race like Avenir or one of the Northern American tours that might suit me more, then I won't back down from that challenge either.  

You are riding in junior category for a second year doing a lot of events in different countries. If you have to drop one name of a rider you rode against that have bright future in cycling who would that be ? 

That's a really tough question in the juniors because a rider that is amazing one year might be getting dropped the next, and vice versa. The Danes have always been very strong, and last year in the Worlds time trial Lennard Kamna was incredible, but one rider that has really impressed me is my USA teammate McNulty. At the Peace Race he showed that he is at an extremely high level, and I'm excited to race with him more this year and expect big things from him not only the rest of this season but in the years to come as well.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Brandon McNulty won 44th edition of Course de la Paix. His teammate, Adrien Costa finished second and Russian rider Nikolai Ilichev finished third. Race winner also won points classification while Costa won the climbers jersey. French rider Alan Riou won green jersey for the intermediate sprints.

Final podium: Costa, McNulty, Ilichev (photo: Patress.cz)

Americans sealed their victory on the Saturdays queen stage to German town Zinwald. Riders had to tackle difficult climb to Komáří Vížka twice and it was a crucial stage in terms of the GC. Strong American team already splitted the bunch on the first ascent and group of around twenty riders managed to pass the climb together in front. During the second climb no one was able to climb as fast as Costa and McNulty and the duo reached Zinnwald with over 1:30 gap over the next rider, which was Nikolai Ilichev. Adrien Costa won the stage and McNulty sealed his overal victory.

Americans celebrates amazing win in Zinnwald (photo: Patress.cz)


The final stage around Terezin ended with a successfull breakaway. Danish rider Rasmus Lund Pedersen won ahead of Kazakh Vadim Pronskiy. Leo Appelt from Germany brought the peleton 15 seconds behind the winner. McNulty finished safely in the bunch.


Rasmus Lund Pedersen wins solo in Terezin (photo: Patress.cz)

Results

 


I have to say I'm surprised by Brandon McNulty's win. While I'm familiar with his impressive results on US domestic scene and a few wins he scored last year in Belgium as a cadet I wasn't expecting him to be that good in the biggest junior race in the calendar especially that is was the first race in uci race in his career! Both his time trial and climbing level was impressive. Especially in time trial where he managed to beat his teammate Costa was outstanding. And above all, McNulty is first year junior so he has 1,5 years more to score more of these impressive results in his current age category and I'm sure he will.

Adrien Costa finished second and it's hard to say he has lost anything in Czech's race as he was beaten only by his teammate. Young climber proved to be one of the strongest riders in junior category both in time trial and climbs especially with his outstanding run in Zinwald stage where he managed (together with McNulty) to put over a minute gap to the rest of the peleton and caused splits and gaps that we have never seen on this stage before. He done the same last year in Tour du Pays de Vaud queen stage and he will probably do the same this year.

Russian team had a great race in general despite missing their main GC contender Pavel Sivakov.  Ilichev finished third in GC while both Rostovtcev and Kulikovskiy managed to grab a stage win proving to be one of the strongest juniors in pure sprints (Rostovtcev) and also the more difficult ones (Kulikovskiy). It's a strong indication that Russian team is, as always, very well prepared to the season and in the next Nations Cup races they will be in front as well.

Also worth a notice is Tobias Foss who was one of the pre race favorite and proved that he's the no.1 in Norway team for GC in difficult races like Course de la Paix. Last year he was seventh, this time he was just off the podium. 


Friday, 8 May 2015

American rider Brandon McNulty won stage 1a, the morning individual time trial around Třebenice (11,6km) ahead of his teammate, Adrien Costa and Serbian Dusan Rajovic. McNulty also took the leaders jersey of Course de la Paix. 


Time trial podium: Costa, McNulty, Rajovic (photo: Patress.cz)


Race leader after the first stage, Sergei Rostovtcev finished time trial on 23rd place and is now ranked seventh. McNulty has a solid gap in GC over Adrien Costa (+23) and Tobias Foss (+48). His average speed was 49,979 km/h which is the best time in this course in last six years. The previous rider who went faster was Michał Kwiatkowski.

Brandon McNulty rides for the win (Photo: Patress.cz)

Results

The afternoon stage ended with an uphill finish in Roudnice nad Labem. Russian rider, Aleksandr Kulikovskiy won the sprint ahead of Niklas Larsen from Denmark and Szymon Sajnok from Poland. Brendan McNulty finished safely in the bunch and keeps the leaders jersey. One of the favorites for today's stage, Bram Welten was unlucky with a flat tire in the last 500m.

Aleksandr Kulikovskiy wins the sprint (photo:Patress.cz)

Tommorow riders will face the queen stage of the race. McNulty and Costa has a great pole position before the crucial stage but on the climbs anything can happen. Anyway, American team looks extremely strong here and it will be a very difficult to beat them. Either McNulty or Costa should seal overall victory tommorow.


Thursday, 7 May 2015

Russain rider, Sergei Rostovtcev wins first stage of Course de la Paix 2015 after crash marred sprint finish in Litoměřice. Dutch Bram Welten was second and Brandon McNulty from USA finished third. Rostovtcev is the first race leader.

Rostovtcev winning the first stage (photo: Denik.cz)

Rostovtcev had a great start of the season with six wins in Italian junior scene. He's riding for Team Giorgi A.S.D. and can be considered as a pure sprint specialist. Five of his six wins this season came from a bunch sprint. Last year, he become World Champion in Scratch Race during Junior Track World Champs in Seoul.

Here's what the winner says after the stage:

"It's unbelievable, I can not believe that I managed to win such a big race. I'm really happy, but I have thanks to my colleagues, who were well positioned in the last kilometers and showed a lot of strength to drag me to the finish. Because now I got my first big win in my life and I am very proud that I did it in the Peace Race."

Podium of the first stage: Welten, Rostovtcev, McNulty (photo:denik.cz)

Results:

Gallery from the first stage

The first stage was marked but numerous crashes including Simon Guglielmi who went down in final stretch and Stan Dewulf who crashed hard earlier and unfortunately broke his collarbone. Group was splitted into several pieces. Most of the race favorites like Costa, Larsen, Foss and Eenkhoorn finished in the front group and should fight for leaders jersey tomorrow in the morning time trial.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Less then a week after finishing the first uci stage race of the season top juniors will head to the North of Czech Republic to take part in 44th edition of 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. Last four editions was won by Danish riders, lastly by Magnus Bak Klaris, who fought exciting battle until last stage with Rayanne Bouhanni.



The four day event brings a traditional route which is pretty much the same as last year. On the first day riders will face 98,5 km long stage around Litomerice featuring two categorized climbs: Sedlo after 14.2 kilometers and Mukaˇrov after 65.4 km. Similar stage last year won Italian Gianmarco Begnoni after sprint from reduced peleton of seventy riders.


On the second day riders will face two stages: morning time trial in Třebenice and hilly stage around Roudnice nad Labem with uphill finish in the afternoon. The morning time trial (11.6km) is held on the same course since 2009. A year before, Michał Kwiatkowski won 400m longer time trial with avarage speed over 50km/h and he's still the only rider who passed 50km/h mark on this course. Last year, Matthew Gibson won (avg. 47.617) ahead of Will Barta, Igor Decraene and Lennard Kamna.


In the afternoon riders will ride a big loop around Roudnice nad Labem which is flat in comparision 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. Erlend Blikra won definitely last year ahead of Aleksandr Kulikovskiy from Russain and French track specialist Correntin Ermenault. Peter Sagan won this finish 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 Lukas Erikssen has beaten Magnus Bak Klaris and Aurelien Paret Peintre on the line with Rayanne Bouhanni just four seconds behind. It will be a crucial stage in terms of the gc.


The final stage from Terezín to Litoměřice is also a difficult one as riders will have to pass a GPM three times before heading back to Litoměřice for a flat finish. Last year we had an exciting battle for bonus seconds between Bak Klaris and Bouhanni while the stage won Polish rider Patryk Soliński.


Video review of 2014 edition


Favorites

Adrien Costa. There is no other rider's name to start my list of juniors to watch during Course de la Paix. Adrien  has had a stellar start of the season on American domestic scene including third place overall in Redlands Classic where he was beaten only by Phillip Gaimon and Gavin Mannion. For a rider born in 1997 it's an incredible result and only show how talented Costa is. The course of Czech's race suits Adrien perfectly. The riders will face time trial where Costa already won a silver medal during Worlds in Ponfferada last year and difficult mountainous stage where Costa, considered as one of the best climbers in junior category, can seal the overall victory. Basically Costa is the best climber of the field and one of the best time trialists. It's going to be a very difficult task for anyone to beat him in the next few days. American team is very strong in general and should be able to help Costa defend the jersey if he managed to grab it during time trial. Having such a strong leader is actually the only reason why I won't name guys like Hecht, Reynolds or even McNulty as race favorites but each of them can reach top 10 overall or a stage win.

Denmark team has managed to win last four editions of this race with four different riders. I'm pretty sure they will try to win once again and I can see two strong contenders in their team. Niklas Larsen is a very strong time trialist and could be one of the Costa's biggest challengers in the time trial. He had a quiet start of the season having only one uci race on his calendar so far (18th in Roubaix despite flat tire in final kilometers). Last year he proved himself as a strong contender for GC in junior races being third in Le Trophée Centre Morbihan and sixth in Grand Prix Rüebliland where he also managed to win all star lined up time trial. The second contender which can be considered more like an outsider is Anthon Charmig. He won Grand Prix Matoušek last year, which is pretty much Course de la Paix for cadets in dominating style winning four of five stages. This year he showed his strength in Ster van Zuid-Limburg where he was third overall and won young rider's jersey.  He's a great time trialist but it's yet to be seen how far he can go in mountains. If not this year, he's gonna be a serious contender for 2016 edition for sure.

Belgium brings very strong and balanced team. Stan Dewulf is surely a rider in shape with third place in Paris Roubaix and solo win in Vlaams Brabantse Pijl recently. He can cope with the climbs and should be Belgium's favorite for GC. For the sprints stages it should be Robbe Ghys fighting for a victory.

Dutch riders had the best possible start of the season winning almost every one day races so far with four different riders. Pascal Eenkhoorn was sixteenth last year in Course de la Paix and for sure will try to improve his position this year while Bram Welten will try to win one of the stages for sprinters.

Similar to Belgium, French team is strong and well balanced. Each of their riders are able to get a stage win while Enzo Bernard should be the strongest contender for the overall classification.

Despite lacking Erlend Blikra who won a stage last year and talented Sedrik Engebo Ullebo, Norway has card to play for gc. Tobias Foss proved already last year that he is one of the hot favorites for the race when he finished seventh in GC. This year he won Tour Nivernais Morvan showing great shape before one of the biggest goals of the season which for sure will be the Czech race.

Other strong contenders: Leo Appelt, Max Kanter, Ottavio Dotti, Ziga Jerman, Jakub Otruba, Sergei Rostovtcev.

For the sprints stages watch out for: Alexandr Kulikovskiy, Alan Banaszek & Dusan Rajovic

Provisional startlist

My bet is Adrien Costa for the GC. Also can't imagine the podium without a Danish rider so either Larsen or Charmig will be there. Final slot on podium is wide open.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Polish rider Stanisław Aniołkowski from BDC team won final stage of La Coupe du Président de la Ville de Grudziadz after sprint finish in Grudziądz. Estonian rider Siim Kiskonen finished second and Dutch rider Maurits de Waal (Willebrord Wil Vooruit) was third. Max Kanter from Rsc Cottbus team finished safely in the bunch and won the race.

Cycling junior
Aniołkowski wins final stage in Grudziądz


The final stage of the race around city host, Grudziądz was basically flat and usually ends up with a bunch sprint. Despite many tries in the first kilometers, peleton stayed together for almost thirty kilometers. Aniołkowski managed to win first int sprint and scored valuable three seconds.

Soon after the first sprint seven riders rode away from the bunch: Bastian FLicke (Rsc Cottbus), Filip Deja (SMS Żyrardów), Maurits De Waal (Willebrord Wil Vooruit), Jurgis Taucius (Lithuania), Rob Gray (HMT Academy JLT Condor), David Klatik (Slovakia) and Karl Patrick Lauk (Estonia). They managed to reach 30 seconds gap at most and contested second inter sprint where Bastian Flicke won. Around 50 kilometers from the finih the leaders were caught and peleton rode together again.

At the third int sprint in Grudziądz Staniosław Aniołkowski won again and scored another three seconds bonus. Right after that peleton let two riders go: Szymon Krawczyk (KTK Kalisz) and Daniel Staniszewski (SMS Żyrardów). They kept small gap over the bunch untill ten kilometers to go when their attack was finished. The final bunch sprint won Aniołkowski and Max Kanter sealed his overall victory finishing in the bunch.

Results (Stage 4):


Results (Overall Classification):
The first stage race of the season is now over so it's time for some of my thoughts. I've bet on Max Kanter as overall winner and he reached my expectations. Right from the great TTT ride by his team, Rsc Cottbus, until the final stage in Grudziądz he was always in right place at right time keep his overall lead in safe. He proved to be a strong rider and I'm sure we will hear again about him this year.

With such a strong field Polish riders should be proud of themselves. The managed to win two sprint stages and placed two riders in final podium. I was a little bit surprised by Alan Banaszek as he didn't perform as well as I predicted but his teammate, Stanisław Aniołkowski took his place and rode a great race. The TTT was the key again and BDC team lost quiet a lot of time and despite scoring a lot of bonus seconds it wasn't enough to beat Kanter in GC. Hopefully Aniołkowski will have more chances to shine this season.

Mathias Norsgaard should be happy either. He won the queen stage in style and if he hadn't miss the move on first stage he could win the whole race. Team Kel-berg had Honore in that move but he crashed on the next day and Danish team hopes for GC were over. Still, they proved to be one of the strongest teams in junior scene.

Finally, remember the name: Siim Kiskonen. Estonia team was far back at the TTT but Kiskonen proved to be a great sprinter finishing 3rd,2nd,2nd and 2nd in sprints! Great performance, keep an eye on him for the rest of the season.

Next up: The Tour de France for juniors, Course de la Paix.