Saturday, 31 January 2015

Here's the final part of my review of "Juniors to watch in 2014". Below you can read a little about two guys from 1997 who will start their second season as a junior but were already hyped as big cycling prospects a year ago.

Adrien Costa (USA, 1997)


You could already read a short review of Costa's season in my junior ranking list so there is no point to repeat the list of  his results here again. Just in addition I can predict that if nothing bad happens and Adrien will keep improving he can easily dominate every mountain stage and possibly also a time trials in junior category this year. In 2015 young American climber will ride for California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized elite team based in Northern California. He will begin with few smaller races in California before heading to the first big event: Redlands Classic in April. Later, as he states, he should ride Course de la Paix and will be back to similar schedule like last year: Tour du Pays de Vaud,  Trofeo Karlsberg, NC and Tour de l'Abitibi. Finally, the big goal will be the Worlds in Richmond, as he's aiming for gold medal in time trial.

Nicola Conci (Italy, 1997)


Young Italian rider from U.C Giorgione Abito Team was a total sensation in 2013 winning every kind of race in under 17 category in Italy. A year later, we could actually notice that Nicola Conci could turn into great climber. He won seven races last season in Italian amateur scene including some impressive performances in mountaintop finishes like in the one day race from Pinerolo to Sestriere where he climbed all the way up to the mountaintop finish getting amazing solo win. Other impressive result came from Sandrigo Monte Corno classic where he has beaten Edoardo Affini in two man sprint at the top of Monte Corno. But that's not all. He continue with solo win at the top of Mezzomonte during 73rd edition of Trofeo Bottecchia before another win at Cittadella Colli Alti. Again solo, again uphill. In international level he didn't win any races. His best result came from Trofeo Buffoni where he finished second, this time Affini has beaten him in sprint. He was also in front group of Trofeo San Rocco (fnished seventh) and G.P. dell'Arno (5th) but both races din't fit Conci's characteristics since both of them finished with small group sprints. It's also worth to mention that Conci was one of the attackers in Ponfferada but he was very unlucky and crashed at the descent and couldn't fight for a medal. Next year Conci will probably continue to dominate Italian amateur mountains and hopefully we can see him fighting against the top juniors in Basilicata or Lunigiana if those races will be back to the calendar. In 2015 Nicola Conci will switch the team and ride for Team LVF where he will probably fill the spot of climber Davide Plebani who finished his second year as junior.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Welcome to the second part of review

Lorenzo Fortunato (Italy, 1996)

Italian rider Lorenzo Forutnato (Work Service San Lazzaro) scored seven wins last season including general classification in Trittico Veneto after finishing second in the queen stage just behind Riccardo Verza. Other important result on the Italian domestic scene was a stage win during Tre Giorni Orobica where Lorenzo also finished eighth overall. On the international level Fortunato scored several high places but no wins actually. He started well in May where he was eighth in La Piccola SanRemo. Later after fairly anonymous performance in Course de la Paix (47th GC) Fortunato showed his class in other event from Uci Nations Cup, GP General Patton. He was one of the protagonists on both stages finishing fourth and second which gave him third place in general classification and green jersey in points competition. Finally, Lorenzo confirmed his class as a classic specialist with sprinting abilities by finishing eight in World Championships in Ponferrada. In 2015 Fortunato will ride for Italian amateur team Gs Mastromarco.

Damien Touze (France, 1996)


Young Frenchman had pretty decent year with huge amount of top ten places in various races but lacked a big win. The only win on international level came from Tour de l'Abitibi where Touze won fourth stage around Malartic. Top ten places in three other stages during the race helped him to take ninth place in general classification. At the beginning of the season Touze was one of the favorites in Paris Roubaix juniors and proved the expectations by finishing fifth. Later he barely missed stage win in both Le Trophée Centre Morbihan and GP Général Patton by finishing second on the opening stages in both races. Next year Damien Touze will ride for one of the top French DN1 teams, CC Étupes which developed riders like Adam Yates, Warren Barguil or Thibaut Pinot. He will focus on his sprinting abilities and could become of the main sprinters in the team.

 

Kristoffer Halvorsen (Norway, 1996)


Halvorsen's season was ruined by a virus. He started his season in great way by winning in Knesselare in Belgium and finishing second in Volta Limburg Classic where Norwegian Team filled the whole podium with Blikra on first place and Tobias Foss on third. Later, Halvorsen managed to finish Paris Roubaix in 24th place and disappeared totally. The good news is that Kristofer will ride for Team Joker in 2015 and he's still considered as one of the top talents in Norway despite almost no results last year. With his sprinting abilities and big engine he can develop into a rider with similar characteristics to Alexander Kristoff or Thor Hushovd.

Emiel Planckaert (Belgium, 1996)


Emiel, younger brother of Baptiste Planckaert, didn't manage to take a win on international level last year but his season was fairly good considering amount of top ten places he achieved. He started well in March when he scored sixth place in Bernaudeau Junior in France. In April he took three podium places in smaller races including win in Rund um Düren. Later came the best result in uci races which was sixth place in GC of Le Trophée Centre Morbihan with second place on the third stage where he was beaten by Filippo Rocchetti in two-man sprint. Another decent result came from Oberösterreich-Rundfahrt, stage race held in Austria, where Planckaert finished third in overall. But the best month for young Belgian was for sure August which started well in Ronde van Vlaanderen where Emiel finished ninth before taking same place in GC of Liège - La Gleize and three wins in smaller races in Belgium. Finally Planckaert finished 13th in Worlds road race and a week later he grabbed his sixth and final win in amateur races in Heestert. Next year Planckaert will ride for Lotto Soudal u23 and should continue his develop as a classic specialists in hilly courses.

In the next few days you can expect review of season achievements of Adrien Costa and Nicola Conci.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

A year ago, one of the first posts on my blog was a list of riders that you should take a closer look at during 2014 season. After a year I've decided to write a review of what actually happened with them and what results did they achieve on junior scene.

Igor Decraene (Belgium, 1996-2014) 


My review starts from the worst of information. Igor Decraene, 2013 World time trial champion has passed away on 30th of August. Before that Igor managed to score national title in time trial and third place in time trial stage during Course de la Paix. He was preparing to defend his rainbow jersey when the sad news arrived. From 2015 there will be a special award called Trofee Igor Decraene for the best Belgian junior time trialist. Hopefully Igor will never be forgotten.


Nikolay Cherkasov (Russia, 1996)

 

In 2013 Cherkasov managed to defeat Igor Decraene in time trial at European Championships and won the title. A year later he started his  season pretty good with overall win in Tour of Arad, rising amateur race in Israel. Unfortunately, later came a crash during Paris Roubaix but young Russian was quickly back in action and scored his best result of the season a month later. Cherkasov finished second in overall classification in Le Trophée Centre Morbihan after also being second in time trial behind Erlend Blikra. After that, unfortunately, Cherkasov didn't achieve any results in uci races unless we count 12th place in Trofeo Buffoni as a solid results. I have no info about the team that Cherkasov will ride in 2015 (if you have any info please let me know) but hopefully he won't disappear totally in u23 as he was one of the best time trialists in his first junior season.


Zeke Mostov (1996, Hagens Berman u23)


After exceptional 2013 season with series of decent gc results and third place in Worlds time trial, in the first part of 2014 season Zeke Mostov focused on riding for his team, Hagens Berman u23 in American amateur races. He managed to grab few solid results in smaller events like  Madera County Stage Race where he finished second overall, behind Adrien Costa. Mostov finally joined US national team for Canadian Nations Cup event Tour de l'Abitibi and had a chance to prove his great abilities at the highest level. Race went great for Zeke as he finished third in time trial (behind his teammates: Costa & Barta) and once he completed all the rest stages in peleton and grabbed few bonus seconds he managed to finish second overall. Finally he finished fifth in World Championships but I have to say it was a great result (comparing to his bronze medal in 2013) considering how exceptionally high was the competition level. In 2015 Zeke Mostov will continue his career in California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized team. I see Mostov as one of the most promising riders born in 96/97 and together with Costa and Barta he might develop into great stage racer and for sure we will hear about his results in time trial already in near future.

 Patrick Müller (Switzerland, BMC Development Team)


Patrick season was limited because of mononucleosis that forced him to end his season in August. But before that Patrick managed to score pretty decent amount of great results. He started with second place in GC of Tour de Leman where he was beaten only by French climber Vicotr Lefay. Later on, he faced strong competition in Tour de Pays de Vaud where he finished eighth in general and won the final stage after a sprint. Just a month later Patrick managed to win national title in road race. But it wasnt' the end of success as Patrick finished fifth in gc of prestigious GP General Patton before heading to European Track Championships where the best result was vice-European Champion title in Madison race where together with Nico Selanti. In 2015 Patrick will continue to develop in BMC Development Team. Because of the mononucleosis Patrick didn't have a chance to fully show his potential in 2014 and might be a little bit underrated in comparison with top juniors from '96 but as he already signed with BMC Devo Team I'm more then sure we won't have to wait for a big result from Müller either on track or road.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

 Time trial results were pretty obvious, especially the winner. Lennard Kamna was for sure the best time trialist in junior category this year and he proved that by winning gold in the Worlds with impressive gap on Adrien Costa and Michael Storer. The rest of the podium might be considered as a little surprise but Costa is incredibly talented so you can expect big things from him not only in climbing but also in time trials. Storer didn't have much occasions to show his talent. He won Oceania Championships at the very beginning of the year and later was quite back in Grand Prix Rüebliland time trial (14th) but Australians has a long history of winning all kind of medals in junior/u23 category. Also, let's not forget that both Costa and Strorer are from 1997 so they will fight for gold once again next year.

Lennard Kamna on his way to rainbow jersey (photo: Graham Watson)

Final podium in time trial: Adrien Costa, Lennard Kamna, Michael Storer (photo: Graham Watson)
 The road race is other story.. Prepare yourself with pretty detailed report....

The race was ridden pretty defensively in the first part, just like it usually happens in elite races. Not many notable actions were made. The first one we should mention was Adrien Costa attacking just before the finish line with 4 laps to go. He was joined by Kazakh rider Shtein. The duo managed to gain solid gap on the peleton, around 40-50 seconds. After Costa's attack we had numerous jumps from the peleton including guys like Ganna, Hindley and Vlasov but none of them were successful. On the Mirador climb Costa dropped Kazakh rider and from now on he was riding solo infront after 60 kilometers of racing.

Adrien Costa's climbing solo
Costa managed to keep the lead for over a lap but with less then 50km from the finish line he was pretty tired already and was joined by Italian rider Vincenzo Albanese. On the longer climb Confederacion the leaders were joined by Dutch rider Jan Maas. The gap on the peleton was still pretty big, around 40 seconds. Behind them, another Italian rider Rocco Fuggiano and Frenchman Damien Gaudu jumped away from the big group together with Martin Palm but he was dropped on the climb. The gap between the leaders and counter attackers were less then 20 seconds. At the top of Alto del Pantano o Compostilla (aka Mirador) the counter attackers were caught and the big group was eight seconds behind the leading trio. On the finish line with two laps to go the leaders were caught and we had again a big peleton at the front with more then seventy riders.

Christian Koch from Germany team attacked and it was a pretty smart move for Germans as they didn't have to work on front and keep the group together. On the Alto de Monteareanas (aka Confederacion) we had counter attack from Leo Danes and Riccardo Verza. They quickly caught Koch and grabbed advantage of around 15 seconds. Behind them we had some serious attacks from Rayane Bouhanni, Colombian Wilmar Paredes, Jonas Gregaard and Jai Hindley but before the top of the climb they were caught. It was also the moment when Lennard Kamna crashed at the back of the bunch. Right after him also Costa and Will Barta crashed and both were out of contention. At the top of Mirador it was still Leo Danes at the front joined at the descent by Finish rider Halme, Paredes, Verza, Mexican Ulloa and Haller. It was also the moment when Bouhanni slowed down and was quickly back in the bunch. Again I have to praise German tactics as they again had their rider in front group. At the finish line, before the last lap the six leaders had 15 seconds on the peleton led by Danish and Russian riders.

Halme leading the group just ahead of the peleton
 At the short climb before the Confederacion Halme and Ulloa were dropped but the leading four did not cooperate well. Paredes was the strongest rider in the leading four and his high tempo caused Haller to get dropped. Verza and Danes were on the limit to keep the pace of Paredes on the Confederacion. Two Swedish riders attacked from the peleton but were quickly joined by whole bunch of riders from top teams. So with less then 11 kilometers to go we had big bunch stretched at the closing kilometers of Confederacion. The next strong attack came from Nicola Conci joined by Pavel Sivakov. They attacked right before the top of the climb and extended their lead at the downhill. Kazakh rider Tassymov joined them. Unfortunately, Conci crashed on the right turn at the end of the downhill, the same one where Gianni Moscon crashed in u23 race and the same one where Michał Kwiatkowski went through safely on his road to the rainbow jersey.

Bokeloh joining the leaders
The leaders were joined by Jonas Bokeloh right at the bottom of the final climb of the day. It was pretty impressive for a sprinter like Bokeloh to join the leaders at this part of the race but it was simply a prove that Bokeloh was flying that day and it was no surprise that he become a world champion. With 5 km to go we had a group of around 35 riders at the front. Leaders with Bokeloh were caught but German rider was always at the head of the bunch trying to stay in top 10 places. Stepan Kurianov attacked and was joined again by duo from Sweden: Lukas Eriksson and Hampus Andenbergh, strong French climber Aurelien Paret Peintre and Italian rider Lorenzo Fortunato. They didn't manage to gain much time. Right behind them were Gino Mader from Switzerland and again Christian Koch (great ride from him that day). Peleton was lead by Leo Danes (another hero of the day), Magnus Bak Klaris and Jonas Bokeloh (like i said, no less then 10 place in the bunch). The leaders had seven seconds on the bunch at the top of Mirador.

Five leaders just before the top of the final climb

  In elite such a gap was enough, here it wasn't. It was quite a surprise considering that we had two Swidish riders in the leading group and the rest were actually working quite well. It was probably because Bokeloh was flying at the descent and was right behind the leaders. Just behind him on the other hand were Danish duo: Gregaard and Bak Klaris. The peleton wouldn't let them go. With 1 km to go Gino Mader still has a small gap on Kurianov and the rest of the field. Behind them Koch tried to help Bokeloh but was really tired. The leading duo were caught 200 meters from the line. There were four Belgian riders at the front with less then 500m from the finish line but it looked like they were all riding for themselves instead of for the team. On the other hand they looked pretty tired so once Jonas Bokeloh lunched sprint none could pass him. Aleksandr Kulikovskiy was seconds and Dutch rider Peter Lenderink finished third. Behind them were pretty big names: Affini, Bak Klaris.

Bokeloh winning final sprint (photo: Graham Watson)
 If you ask me I was pretty surprised how the race unfold. I expected that the course will be a little bit harder and there would be more splits in the bunch and smaller group at the finish line. Bokeloh looks like a pure sprinter but I would compare him to Kristoff and the course was ideal for him, that's for sure. Behind we had a long list of strong riders, i would say no surprises in top ten. Even Izidor Penko was not a surprise if you remember that he beaten Bokeloh few weeks earlier in Memorial Pietro Merelli. I was little bit surprised by early move by Costa. Sure the course were not made for a little climber like him but if he wait for the last lap maybe he would be in the front group in the last k's and you never know what would happen then. Same with Bouhanni who was attacking a lot and when the race really starts he was empty. German team rode extremely well that day especially if we consider that they have lost Kamna after he crashed and teamwork for sure gave them the gold medal from Bokeloh.

Final podium in road race: Kulikovskiy, Bokeloh, Lenderink (photo: Graham Watson)

In case you mised it, you can watch full race replay on uci channel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZaBrVxcRAw

Monday, 5 January 2015

September was a month of World Championships which are always the biggest event of the season for juniors where everyone tries to be in the top shape. Usually the September races brings asolid lineups with riders all over the world looking for final preparation before the Worlds. The bad thing that happened this year was cancelling two important stage races in Italy: Giro Internazionale della Lunigiana and Giro di Basilicata. Those two races were always very prestigious with strong international field on the start (last editions won Tao Hard and Peret-Peintre). As there were no other stage races across Europe, most of the teams head to Switzerland for Grand Prix Rüebliland. The race had always pretty strong field but this year it really improved and i would call Swiss race the biggest one from those with category 2.1. First rolling stage won Lennard Kemna after attacking from a leading group of riders which included guys like Bouhanni, Sivakov and Lenderink.

Lennard Kamna's solo win (photo: gp-ruebliland.ch)
 The next day we had a spirnt royale on the finish line where Giacommo Begnoni beat Casper Pedersen, Jonas Bokeloh, Mitchell Cornelisse and Damien Touze. The same day we had a time trial and guess what, Kamna did not win it. Niklas Larsen was the strongest for sure as he gained 21 seconds on Sivakov and 22 on Kamna. Luckily for Kamna, Larsen wasn't a part of the elite group on the first stage so German National champion has kept his lead in gc. Final stage around Aarburg was for sure the hardest one and splitted the field. Magnus Bak Klaris won the stage just three seconds ahead of leading group where Niklas Larsen was in front gaining some seconds on current leader. Kamna was 18th with the same time as Larsen and it was enough to win the whole race ahead of Sivakov and Bouhanni.

Giacommo Begnoni winning the sprint (photo: radsport.ch)
Final podium: Sivakov, Kamna, Bouhanni (photo: gp-ruebliland.ch)


The same weekend when Swiss race was held in Belgium we had one of the last one day races of the season: La Philippe Gilbert juniors which was pretty much insight Belgian fight. Jordi Van Dingen won ahead of Martin Palm and Stijn Bogaerts. The only non-Belgian rider in top20 was Briton Matthew Gibson. A week later we had Trofeo Buffoni, classic that usually brings a strong international field since it was run just a week before Worlds and was part of final preparation for many riders together with Basilicata and Lunigiana. European champion, Edoardo Affini has won ahead of first year junior (and a big, big talent) Nicola Conci and Australian Michael Storer. All three were later playing important roles during the worlds with Affini just missing medal in road race and Strorer getting third place in time trial.

Affini winning Trofeo Buffoni in his EC jersey (photo: FOTO RODELLA)


The final stage race of the season, held just before Worlds but actually too late to consider it as a preparation race, was Keizer der Juniores, two day event in West Flandres. The first sprinter stage won Enzo Wouters, sealing his title as a top sprinter in junior category. Alan Banaszek from Poland was second. First year junior from Poland didn't have much chance to compete on international level. He struggled to get any solid results except race in Grudziadz  where he won a stage, young rider jersey, points jersey and and was second in overall. Next year he could improve and become one of the top sprinters in junior category. The final day brought two stages: morning time trial won by Guillaueme Seye who become the new leader since there were no bonifications on the first stage. Final stage was of course the hardest one and Enzo Wouters showed class again winning uphill sprint ahead of Jordi Warlop and Emiel Planckaert. But overall win came to fourth rider on the day Stan Dewulf thanks to his solid performance in time trial in the morning where only Seye has beat him.

Enzo Wouters (photo: panel©graphy)


At the very end of the season traditional Chrono Des Nations took place. Filippo Ganna came and conquer as he beat second rider (French Thomas Denis) with over a minute. Martin Palm was third.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

So we are after European Championships and before the Worlds. Some serious racing happened in August with three stage races and some classics including Ronde van Vlaanderen which was the first uci event in August. Let's not forget its not such a big event like in elite or u23 as junior Flandres category is just 1.1 so most of the riders came from Belgium teams with some Dutch and Danish teams on the start as well. We had seven strong riders in front when riders reached the important part of the race (with famous bergs: Eikenberg & Taaienberg plus Haaghoek section): Dennis Delmotte, Wiebren Plowie, Jordi Warlop, Stijn Bogaerts, Zino Herremans, Jan Maas and Nathan Draper. Those seven were joined by Niklas Larsen from Denmark but behind them another important move took place, Emiel Planckaert, Dries Vastmans, Bjarne Vanacker, Aaron Verwilst and Bjorg Lambrecht attacked from the reduced peleton. The second group managed to join the leaders so we had 13 riders in front far ahead of the peleton and it was clear that race winner will came from the leading group. Five kilometers before the finish line four riders attacked: Maas, Plovie, Larsen and Verwilst. First season junior Verwilst managed to beat more experienced riders and won sprint ahead of Maas and Plovie.

Aaron Verwilst winning Ronde (photo: JDC)

Next event were also held in Belgium. Aubel - Thimister - La Gleize previously known as Liege La Gleize race always attract pretty strong international field. First hilly stage around Aubel won Stephan Kurianov from Russia ahead of David Gaudu from France. Wiebren Plovie was the first from the bunch ten seconds behind the leaders. The next day we had two stages: morning team time trial and road race later on. In the morning the Dutch national team has won ahead of Tieltse Rennersclub with Wirtgen and Decraene and Balen BC team from Belgium. Jan Maas took the leaders jersey. The second stage around Thimister ended with a bunch sprint but it was Kurianov again who finished just ahead of them scoring his second stage win.

Kurianov winning solo for the second time (photo: fleche-ardennaise.be) 

GC didn't change much but Hartthijs de Vries finished higher then Maas and became the new leader. The final stage around Le Gleize was for sure the hardest one with eight climbs including some that are being used in Liege Bastonge Liege and uphill finish. There were numbers of attacks and breakways during the stage but final move was made 25km before the finish line before the Côte du Rosier. David Gaudu jumped away from his breakaway companions and rode away pretty quick as he reached over a minute gap after the Rosier. At the finish line still had 32 seconds on next two riders: Yannick Peters and Senne Leysen. It was one of the most impressive solo wins of the season as Gaudu attacked in the hardest part of the stage, broke away solo and kept the big gap on the rest of the field which gave him stage win and overall win. Second place in GC went to Pascal Eenkhoorn and third to his teammate from Dutch National Team, Sjoerd Bax.

Amazing solo win by David Gaudu (photo:  fleche-ardennaise.be) 
For the next event we head to Bretagne in France for Ronde des Vallées. Race contained three stages with time trial in the middle on rolling, hilly terrains in Bretange. First stage was already decisive as two Russians: Pavel Sivakov and Stepan Kurianov attacked from the leading group around 60km from the finish line and never get caught. Four Frenchmen almost managed to close the gap but they were lacking 15 seconds at the finish line. Rest of the field lost over a minute with many loosing five, ten or even more. Tough stage. The next day we started with time trial and this time two Russians were beaten by Frenchman Valentin Madouas but they kept the top two spots in overall. Leo Danes won the final stage but the general classification didn't change much so the two Russian riders that managed to get away on first stage took two top places in gc. Valentin Madouas finished third thanks to his time trial win.

Final podium (photo u19racingteam.fr)
Last week of the month was time for three one day races: Omloop der Vlaamse Gewesten in Belgium won by Danish rider Kasper Andersen after a finish from twelve man leading group. Mitchell Cornelisse was second and American rider Michael Hernandez finished third. Italian classic Trofeo comune di Vertova Memorial Pietro Merelli was a race where we could spot first sparks of big form in Jonas Bokeloh performance. He finished second in the front group losing spirnt to Izidor Penko from Slovenia. Julius van den Berg completed podium. Finally Filippo Ganna won Trofeo Emilio Paganessi soling to the line after dropping his breakaway companions on the last ascent of Casnigo. Jonas Gregaard from Denmark finished second and Kazakh rider Tamirlan Tassymov was third.

Izidor Penko beating Jonas Bokeloh in Trofeo Comune di Vertova (photo: ciclismo.info)

Friday, 2 January 2015

In the middle of July in Nyon we had European Championships for juniors and u23. The field was pretty strong with most of the big names showed at the start but on the other hand the route wasn't very hard so it was all about making a move in right place and right time. It's all about road race of course but let's start with the time trial.

Lennard Kamna (photo: UEC Cycling)

There was no surprise: Lennard Kamna has won the title with solid gap ahead of track specialist from France, Correntin Ermenault and Tobias Foss from Norway, one of the most consistent junior in 2014. As you probably noticed most of the top time trialists in u19 in 2014 was not coming from Europe so it was pretty obvious that Kamna will win the title. I was pretty disappointed when i noticed that Brits won't take part especially if you consider that Matthew Gibson was the only European that has beaten Kamna in time trial, except Igor Decraene of course.

Norwegian team at the fron of the bunch (photo: Ch. Haenggelli)


Now let's get back to the road race. Once i started to read what happened that day i memorized Magnus Bak Klaris attacking in the very beginning of Gent Menen before he finally joined the right move and won the race. In EC we had similar start of the race with later champion, Italian Edoardo Affini tried to jump away in the first kilometers of the race together with Bozic and Piashkun . Right after their move Rayane Bouhanni joined with Russian rider Lliechev. Martin Palm, Peter Lenderink and Michel Cornelisse also tried to join but failed. Piashkun crashed and was dropped from the leading group but Matic Veber from Slovenia joined.

Rayane Bouhanni in early attack (photo: Ch. Haenggelli)

They group had over a minute gap after 30 kilometers of racing. Norwegian team tried to control the big group and were slowly reducing the gap to escapers with help from Belgians. After around 70 kilometers of racing and hard work from Belgium and Norway the leading group was finally caught. After that, Norwegians managed to keep the group together despite several attacks. Bouhanni tried once again but didn't manage to get away. Once after he was caught his teammate Pierre Idjouadiene attacked and was quickly joined by Affini, Gino Mader from Switzerland  and Jordi Warlop from Belgium. It was the right move probably because there was a Belgian rider in front and no Norwegians so they had to work again but this time with no help from the other strong teams like Belgium and France. The final sprint won Affini ahead of Warlop and Idjouadiene. Italy, Belgium and France, no surprises at all. Tom Wirtgen attacked before the final kilometer and almost caught Gino Mader. Davide Plebani from Italy was the first from the peleton finishing sixth in the race. With Danish and British riders missing the strongest teams managed to put their riders in the right move and Norwegian team failed as they were hoping for sprint finish with Blikra as their leader.

Affini finishing with solid gap  (photo: Ch. Haenggelli)

Final podium: Warlop, Afini, Idjouadiene (photo: Ch. Haenggelli)

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

At the same time when European Championships were running, we had another stage race for juniors: Ain'Ternational-Rhône Alpes-Valromey Tour. French race always have pretty hard route with solid amount of climbing. 2013 edition won Mathieu van der Poel ahead of Eli Gesbert, big names. On the first of four stages Steff Crass from Belgium took a solo win, 13 seconds ahead of the bunch. The second stage was much harder with two first category climbs in the first part of the stage and a finish at the top of second category climb in Injoux. This time it was French climber Victor Lafay who took a solo win and also moved up to first place in overall. The next day riders had to pass famous Col du Colombier in the first part of the stage and it was again Victor Lafay who took the win, this time with over 1:30 ahead of Charlie Arimont who was second. The final stage was for sure the hardest one with four first category climbs. Aurelien Doleatto won the stage but Lefay controlled the gap and kept his big margin in overall classification. It was the only uci race that Lafay rode but if you read my blog you will probably remember that Lafay took a win in Tour du Léman where he also showed his climbing skills.Curious how he develop in u23 where he will have more chances to ride in mountains for sure.

Victor Lafay solo win (photo: leprogres.fr)

Just a few days later another stage race started in Austria: Oberösterreich Juniorenrundfahrt. If you ask me, this race really improved in case of the field since 2013. If you check the top 10 you will find pretty long list of successful juniors. First two stages were fairly mountainous but with more or less flat before the finish line but in junior category it's usually more then enough to create solid gaps. First stage finished in Marchtrenk won Tobias Kongstad from Denmark as he managed to beat Aleksandr Vlasov and another rider from Russia, Denis Nekrasov. The next stage was the hardest one with solid amout of climbing. Elite group of eight riders finished together and it was Kevin Geniets from Luxembourg who took the win but the leaders jersey took local rider Benjamin Brkic as he finished higher in the first stage. The final stage didn't change the gc as the top junior sprinter, Enzo Wouters, took another win. In gc Brkic finished ahead of Tom Wirtgen from Luxembourg and Emiel Planckaert from Belgium.

Enzo Wouters winning the stage, Benjamin Brkic winning the race (photo: nachrichten.at)

FInal podium: Tom Wirtgen, Benjamin Brkic, Emiel Planckaert (photo: nachrichten.at)

Next we head to Canada for Tour de l'Abitibi Desjardins, another Nations Cup event held in July. It was pretty unusual nations cup race since the organizers invited pretty big amount of regional teams from the States and Canada and only eight national teams including USA, France and Denmark. Canadian race on the other hand is the longest junior event with no less then seven stages during six days of racing. Too bad that we didn't have full list of national teams with all the big names on the start. Despite the startlist wasn't very impressive, the first stage already brought a duel between big names: Rayane Bouhanni and Magnus Bak Klaris on the finish line. The duo stayed in front of the bunch and Bouhanni beat Klaris on the line and took the yellow jersey. The next day we had another nice duel on the finish line, this time Mathias Norsgaard beat Will Barta with both being a part of six man breakaway which finished 20 seconds ahead of the peleton. Bonus seconds gave Norsgaard overall lead.

Bouhanni celebrating after beating Bak Klaris (photo: leducphotographe.com)

The next stage was a time trial totally dominated by Americans as they took top four places. Adrien Costa won ahead of Barta and Zeke Mostov. Norsgaard lost a minute and now it was Barta in the overall lead. The same day we had a sprinter stage won by Damien Touze. The next stage also finished with bunch sprint where Quentin Valognes won but more important things happened during the stage where big names were fighting for bonus seconds. Rayane Bouhanni showed his sprinting skills and was back to overall lead. Another sprint stage again won Valognes with Bouhanni finishing second and increasing his overall lead. Final stage didn't change much with pretty exotic podium: Daiki Magosaki from Japan ahead of Ahmed Amine Galdoune from Marocco and Jonathan Canaveral from Colombia. Rayane Bouhanni won the gc ahead of Zeke Mostov and Mathias Norsgaard.

Mathias Norsgaard (photo: leducphotographe.com)

Rayanne Bouhanni on the podium (photo:theguardian.pe.ca)

The final stage race that took place in July was Internationale Niedersachsen-Rundfahrt der Junioren, four stage event held in Lower Saxony in Germany. Milan Veltman from the Netherlands won the first stage ahead of Wiebren Plovie and Fredrik Poulsen as they all were part of six men group that finished 30 seconds ahead of another group brought by Jonas Bokeloh. That was pretty decisive move as the first stage was for sure the hardest one. The next day started with morning time trial where German rider Jan Tschernoster won ahead of Anders Hardhal from Denmark and Sven Reutter from Germany who become the new leader. In the evening we had pretty flat stage but two riders disrupted the sprinters. Julius van den Berg won a two man sprint against Aleksandr Vlasov. 10 seconds behind them Enzo Wouters has beaten Jonas Bokeloh. Gc didn't change much so Sven Reutter kept the lead before the final stage where nothing happened in case of GC. Final sprint stage won Enzo Wouters proving that he was the best pure sprinter in 2014. In overall Sven Reutter finished ahead of stage one winner Milan Veltman and Fredrik Poulsen. Remember Poulsen for next season, he was pretty successful in u17 category but in his first season in u19 he didn't have much chances to fight on international level. His result in Niedersachsen-Rundfahrt shows that he might be in contention with the best juniors in 2015.

Sven Reutter (photo: Michael Deines)
Next post will be about European Championships in Nyon.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

July was a busy month for juniors with two Nations Cup events, European Championships and four more stage races. As an appetizer we had 51st edition of Sint-Martinusprijs Kontich held in the province of Antwerp in Belgium. The first stage was a prologue dominated by German riders. In fact, the highest ranked Belgian rider was Glenn Loenders on 13th place. German riders took three places in top four with Leo Appelt winning. Appelt is another guy to remember, he had some impressive row of wins in younger categories in Germany and managed to win road race during European Youth Olympic Festival in 2013 (ahead of Pascal Eenkhoorn) and was also second in time trial (beaten by Erlend Blikra). Second stage around Kontich almost finished with a bunch sprint but two guys managed to stay in front: Dennis Van Leeuwen won ahead of Wiebren Plovie and Maxim Bolle who won the bunch sprint nine seconds behind the escapers. Appelt managed to keep the leaders jersey.

Leo Appelt in leaders jersey after prologue win (photo: cyclingsite.be)

Another stage was pretty unusual for juniors as we had team time trial. German National team scored a big win and took 30 seconds against one of the top Danish junior team: Roskilde and Dutch juniors from Viking Waterland. These gave Appelt solid advantage before the last two stages. The next day was decisive. 31 riders stayed in front of the peleton and they managed to keep over a minute gap to the big group led by German National Team. Maxime De Poorter won a stage but it was Mikkel Honore from Roskilde team who took the leaders jersey. Appelt was dropped to fourth place in general classification. The final day in Kontich ended with a four man breaakway fight for a stage win. Robin Jacobs won ahead of Eli Iserbyt who is now unbeatable in cyclocross season for juniors. GC didn't change so Mikkel Honore from Denmark won, ahead of Julius Van der Berg who won stage race in Grudziądz in May and Manuel Porzner from Germany.


Robin Jacobs winning final stage after successful breakaway (photo: cyclingsite.be)

Mikkel Honore (photo: cyclingsite.be)


It could be first big win for Leo Appelt but i have a feeling that we won't have to wait long in 2015 to see this kid scoring another one. Hopefully Eli Iserbyt wont focus totally on cyclocross since i would love to see him riding more in road races.



At the same time most of the notable cycling countries have sent a team to Luxembourg for 67th edition of GP General Patton. Like most of the Nations Cup events also the Luxembourgian race is an important one. On the first stage from Ettelbruck to Troisvierges Frenchman Valentin Maduas, winner of annual Directvelo's Challenge National, managed to stay in front of the peleton and grab a win. Just behind him it was another Frenchman, Damien Touze, one of the riders to watch in 2014. The second stage around Wincrange was a harder one with more climbing that caused bigger splits in the bunch. Actually, only eighteen riders managed to finish in the front group and this time it was Russian rider Alexandr Vlasov who kept ten seconds advantage on the big group where sprint was won by Lorenzo Fortunato, another rider to watch in 2014. Those 10 seconds gave him overall win. Second was Maduas and third place went to Fortunato. Vlasov was very impressive this season as he grabbed two top ten places in Nations Cup events (Course de la Paix and Trofeo Karlsberg) before his overall win in Patton.
Valentin Madouas winning first stage (photo: rtl.lu)
Aleksandr Vlasov (photo: rtl.lu)

At the day when GP General Patton has ended another uci event for juniors took place in Italy. Edoardo Affini took a solo win in Trofeo San Rocco ahead of Vincenzo Albanese and Lorenzo Vallariano who won sprint from peleton for third place. Impressive ride in Italian classic was a sign of big form that later that month gave Affini title of European road race champion.

Edoardo Affini (photo: cyclismo.info)
 Few days later another one day race took place. This time it was 95th Gent Menen in Belgium. Paris Roubaix winner Magnus Bak Klaris was very active during the race as he tried to join a breakaway from the very start of the race. When he finally managed to get into group that rode away from peleton he didn't wait too long before he jumped away for another solo win. He rode last 20k's alone and improved the gap on the rest of the group. Pretty impressive, isn't it ? Belgian rider Daan Mertens finished second, 46 seconds behind Bak Klaris and Douwe Daatselaar from the Netherlands took third.
Magnus Bak Klaris (cyclingsite.be)

Monday, 29 December 2014

There was only one Nations Cup event in June but actually it was one of the biggest and most prestigious one: Trofeo Karlsberg. Three day event started with breakaway win by Slovakian David Zverko on the first stage. Some of the big names has lost over a minute including Will Barta, Lennard Kamna and Adrien Costa. The next day we had typical junior schedule: morning road race and short time trial in the evening. This time the big names stayed in front with Barta, Costa and Kamna in front group, 26 seconds ahead of peleton where Jonas Bokeloh, future world champion, has won the bunch sprint. The stage itself won Kristjan Kumar from Slovenia, but since he was later caught for using EPO there is no point to spoke about him anymore. Later that day Lennard Kamna has beaten Will Barta in the time trial while Adrien Costa has missed the turn and lost over 30 seconds. Kumar held the lead. Sunday was the day for sprinters and Milan Menten from Belgium won the stage. Whole race won Kumar ahead of Eddie Dunbar from Ireland, Lennard Kamna and Austrian rider Benjamin Brkic.


                  
David Zverko winning first stage (photo: Peter Melchior)

27th Trofeo Karlsberg podium: Dunbar, Kumar, Kamna (photo: rad-net.de)

It was the only uci race where Eddie Dunbar shined but he's a big talent, trust me. He dominated Junior Tour of Ireland held in July and scored impressive amount of nine podium places (with two wins) throughout the season in smaller junior races in Belgium and the Netherlands. In 2015 Dunbar will ride for British Continetal team NFTO.


July is also a month for nationals with all the big names at the startlines fighting for national titles and jerseys. There is no point to drop all the winners here but some results worth a mention. Two riders scored a double (road race and time trial): Adam Toupalik in Czech and Tom Wirtgen in Luxembourg. We had a nice fight for USA time trial title between Adrien Costa and William Barta won by the first one. Also, Erlend Blikra was close to score double but he was beaten in road race by Martin Vangen. In Denmark we had a fight between born in 1997 Nikias Larsen and born in 1998 Anthon Charmig (first mention about him on my blog, but not the last one, big talent). Obviously Lennard Kamna won nationals in itt and Rayane Bouhanni scored a win in road race after two man sprint agianst Leo Danes.

Rayane Bouhanni beating Leo Danes on the line (photo: Elen Rius)