Sunday, 1 March 2015

Dutch rider Yannick Detant (Monkeytown Cycling Team) won 15th edition of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne juniors after a sprint from eight man group ahead of two French riders: Mathieu Rigollot (Auber 93) and Alain Riou (Club Bretagne Juniors).

Cycling junior
Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne 2015 podium (photo: directvelo.com)

Results:
Full results: Kuurne Bruxelles Kuurne juniors 2015.


The race started with numerous crashes and for almost 30 kilometers there was no successful breakaway.
The peleton was driving very fast with tailwind from the start. The first attack made Danish rider Nikilaj Jeppe (Team Bravida Georgberg) but he was caught at the first hill of the day Edelare Top and immediately three more riders tried to get away: Bjorg Lambrecht (Avia WCup Cycling Team), Ronann Vivier (Team Nantes Atlantique) and Harm Vanhoucke (Young Cycling Team VZW). The leaders kept small gap on the peleton while Lambrecht was dropped so we had two guys in front. The leaders were joined by Danish rider Maximilian Hoffman (Pythonpro.com Team Champion System) and had 48" advantage on the big group. Before Kruisberg, the leading trio were joined by two strong riders: Frenchman Alan Riou (Brittany Club Juniors) and Ward Jaspers (Kon Balen BC).

With 53km to go the leaders were brought back. It was also the moment when crucial attack happened.
Eight riders: Mathieu Rigollot (Auber 93), Alan Riou (Club Bretagne Juniors), Rasmus Byriel Iversen (Team Bravida Georgberg), Yannick Detant (Monkeytown Cycling Team), Enzo Bernard (Pole Espoirs Pays de la Loire), Bjorg Lambrecht (Avia WCup Cycling Team), Loic Guillaume & Guillaume Millasseau (Argenteuil Van De Seine) jumped away just after the hardest climb of the day: Kruisberg. The leaders quickly gained over a minute gap and managed to keep it until the end. Behind them, many riders tried to attack from peleton including some big names like Danish duo from Pythonpro.com: Andreas Stokbro Nielsen and Maximilian Hoffman, Pavel Sivakov, Pascal Eenkhoorn and my pre race favorite Cedric Buellens but they only managed to stay in front of the peleton but never caught the leaders.

In the final kilometers eight leaders attacked each other but the race was decided in a sprint which won Yannick Detant. Here's what the winners says after the race to Directvelo:

"It was a tough race. We managed to finish in a small group. In the end, I saw that everyone was tired. In the last five kilometers, I reacted to various attempts of attack. J 'have retained strength for the sprint. It worked. I'm happy to have won this prestigious race is naturally great when you see that Moreno Hofland won the race in 2009, but now I have to sit feet on the ground. "

Yannick Detant (photo: directvelo.com)

Runner up, Mathieu Rigollot was little bit disappointed:

"When you finish second, you certainly have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am of course happy to finish second on the first real race of the year, in addition to such a race, but on the other hand, This obviously leaves a taste of too little when you see that I launch my sprint a bit far. I could maybe win with 20 meters more. That's racing. I had staked everything on sprint and it was almost the right choice. "


Friday, 27 February 2015

133 days after Filippo Ganna won Chrono des Nations the best juniors will finally be back in action and start in the first big event of the season (and the first race from uci calendar), Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

Cycling junior


Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne 2015 (1.1) is going to be the 15th edition of the race. Last year, James Shaw won the race solo after attacking in the final two kilometers. Year later, James Shaw is preparing for his first race in espoirs with Lotto Soudal u23 team which will be Ster van Zwolle this weekend. Does it mean that if you win Kbk for juniors you are going to have a contract with big devo team for next year ? Probably not but Belgian opener is one of the most important one day races of the season.

Cycling junior
Road map (photo: http://www.kuurne-brussel-kuurne.be/)
The route is pretty much the same as previous edition but riders will face one heilingen less then last year and it will be five kilometers shorter then  in 2014 (119km instead of 124). Race will start in Kuurne of course and after pretty flat first part of the race which will give a chance for an early breakway to get away from peleton the race will start to spice up after riders pass through Oudenaarde. The first difficulty will be Edelare Top (1,5km long, avg. 4,2%, max 7%) after 33km of racing. This will be the first from seven hills in the next 43 kilometers that will be decisive and will split the field before the flat run to Kuurne. The rest of the hills are: Parkstraat (42km, 1.1km, avg. 5%, max 8%), Kanarieberg (52km, 1km, avg. 7.7% , max 14%), Kruisberg (56km, 1.9km, avg. 4% , max 9%), Hotond 60km, 1.3km, avg. 3% , max 7%), Holstraat (76km, 1km, avg. 5.2% , max 12%) and finally Nokereberg (83km, 0,35km, avg. 5.7% , max 7%). Last year crucial move was made on Kruisberg where Shaw attacked together with four more riders and never been brought back by peleton which splitted on the hills. The last forty kilometers are flat and will give a chance for a riders dropped on climbs to come back. 

Cycling junior
Last year's podium (photo:kuurne-brussel-kuurne.be) 
Favorites

Once again Belgian season opener brings very solid startlist with numerous teams from Belgium, Netherlands, France, & Denmark but number 1 on shirt went to young Brit Lewis Bulley from South East Cycling Team thanks to last year's win of James Shaw. If you want to know pre-race contenders you should take a closer look at Belgian top teams in first place. One of them is Balen BC which brings Cedric Buellens who was 16th last year, Ward Jaspers, who had a few podium places in smaller Belgian races last year plus tenth place in GC of Keizer der Juniores and Flandrien wunderkid, Jasper Philipsen who may surprise many if the race finish with a sprint from a bigger group. Next big team is Avia Cup Team which brings one of the juniors to watch, Dutch rider Pacal Eenkhoorn, together with strong Belgians: Thomas Vereecken & Bjorg Lambrecht. In French team Argenteuil Val de Seine you should note Guillaume Millasseau who was fifteenth last year and Theo Nicolas, winner of Bernaudeau Junior in 2014. Another French rider who might win on Sunday is Cyril Dendievel (seventh last year) who ride for Belgian team Zannata-Lotto which also brings very strong team with Belgians Jonas Castrique and Stan Dewulf. Tieltse Rennersclub is coming with Ronde van Vlaanderen 2014 winner, Aaron Verwilst and finally you always should consider Danish riders as favorites for any junior race actually. Team Pythonpro.com will be lead by Andreas Nielsen but I would also take a look at Mads Hjort who had some decent results on local area last year. Other notable starters: Joseph Fry, Shayne Pruvoost, Dries Vastmans, Maxence Moncassin, Pavel Sivakov, Ronann Vivier, Alan Riou & Rasmus Byriel Iversen. If you ask me I would bet on one of the Belgians: Buellens, Vereecken or Verwiilst but it's the first race of the season and it's very hard to predict the possible winners.

You can find full startlist here.

For the live ticker check Directvelo on Sunday.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Welcome to the last part of my "Juniors to watch in 2015" list. Following the pattern from last year, below you can read about two riders that recently moved into junior category and 2015 season will be their first as under 19 rider but their results clearly show that we are dealing with incredibly talented riders.

Jasper Philipsen (Belgium, 1998)


Cycling junior
Jasper recently crowned award for the best Flandrien cadet in yearly Het Nieuwsblad competition. Philipsen is riding for Balen BC team and as a junior he will continue to develop in the team he managed to achieve the biggest success so far in his career. Jasper scored fourteen wins last season in the under 17 races which also included several wins on the international level. The most important one was for sure overall classification of Askö Radjugendtour, one of the most important stage races for cadets. Philipsen managed to win three stages during the race, all ended up with a bunch sprint. He was a little behind on the queen stage but thanks to bonifications he managed to keep the overall lead ahead of Jonas Rutsch and Marc Hirschi (you can keep an eye on those two kids, won't be the last time your read about them on my blog). In addition, Jasper scored a stage win during Tour de Himmelfart where he has beaten Anton Charmig on the line. Young Belgian rider from Ham also managed to finish in third place of West-Vlaanderen Cycling Tour, important stage race for cadets, behind the big names from his category: Sasha Weemaes and Gage Hecht. This year, we can expect Jasper to shine on local circuit but with extensive calendar that his team, Balen BC usually has, Philipsen will have a chance to compete against top juniors in various races.

Below you can see one of his wins during Askö Radjugendtour 2014:


Anthon Charmig (Denmark, 1998)


Cyclnig junior
There aren't many races in u17 category that can be considered as big, international event with riders  from various countries fighting for  a victory. I could name four, maybe five such events. And last year, Anthon Charmig, current vice-champion of Denmark in time trial (junior category!) has won two of them. First sights of his remarkable talent was seen (as for many other riders actually) in European Youth Olympic Festival 2013 in Utrecht. As a fifteen years old kid he managed to win a sprint for fourth place (ahead of guys like Blikra, Welten, Holt or Kulikovskiy, all one year older), jest 22 seconds behind winner, Leo Appelt. But the best season was for sure 2014. As a second year cadet, Charmig won various races in his country giving him overall win in Tornado Cup but I will keep a focus on international level races. Like I said, there were two big events were Anthon shined. The first one was Grand Prix Matoušek, stage race that consists five stages and you can consider it as under 17 version of Course de la Paix. Charmig won four stages during the race including prologue, time trial and two reduced bunch sprint, he missed the leading group on stage three but thanks to bonifications and the final time trial he managed to keep the leaders jersey and win the race ahead of his teammate Rasmus Lund Pedersen and Czech Jakub Otruba. The second big race Anthon managed to win was Tour de Himmelfart. This time Charmig was racing for his club Odder CK and he managed to win only the first stage where he won reduced bunch sprint. On the next two stages he narrowly missed the win being beaten by other high prospects in u17: first it was Jasper Philipsen who has beaten Anthon in sprint and the next day Norwegian Sedrik Engebø Ullebø (another important name to follow, trust me) has beaten Anthon in time trial. But young Dane was always up there in all the stages and managed to win overall classification ahead of Ullebø and another Dane Jakob Egholm. In addition, Charmig has won two big one day races: Rund um Ascheffel and Giro Nortof. For 2015 season Charmig decided to join the biggest cycling junior team in Denmark, Team Kel-Berg Roskildeand we can expect him to be in contention in many big events during the season.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Welcome to the second part of annual "Juniors to watch" list. Below you can read about four more second year juniors that should step up this year. Enjoy.


Leo Appelt (Germany, 1997)

Cycling junior
Picking Leo for the list might not be so obvious and you could probably find some riders from 1997 who had more decent results last year but I have a strong feeling that Leo will be one of the top juniors this year. Appelt had some impressive amount of wins in younger categories including some big wins in his second season as cadet. He won gold and silver medals during European Youth Olympic Festival and won Jugendtour ahead of some strong riders like Haller and Geniets. Germany national team last year was incredibly strong with guys like Kamna, Bokeloh and Reutter so Appelt didn't have enough opportunities to shine. He rode two big races last year and as you can guess he showed class in both of them. In May Appelt finished tenth  in Le Trophée Centre Morbihan after solid place in time trial (11th) and finishing fifth in the final stage (and second from the bunch beaten only by Kulikovskiy). Sint-Martinusprijs Kontich was the second big race he rode. He started with a win in prologue where he beaten guys like Porzner, Gregaard, Honore and Shaw, all of them are considered as strong time trialists and almost all are one year older then Leo. Second win for Leo came two days later when he managed to win team time trial with national team. This gave him solid lead before the final day but the last stage was pretty brutal and Leo with his team didn't manage to keep the leaders jersey. 31 riders went away and they never managed to catch them. Leo lost over a minute and was dropped to fourth place in GC. In addition Leo scored some solid results on track (like fifth place in Junior Worlds in omnium plus numerous national titles) or cyclocross (winning the national title in u17 category) but since I focus my blog on road racing I won't drop all the results here again. Next year Appelt will continue to ride for RC Blau-Gelb team based in Langenhagen but most of the international races he will probably spend as a part of National Team, Expect big results from him.


Kevin Geniets (Luxembourg, 1997)

Despite being a first year junior, Kevin rode all the big events last year for the national team of Luxembourg including four Nations Cup events and the Worlds. There were some up and downs in his results but for sure few of them deserves a mention. The highlight of the season was certainly Tour du Pays de Vaud , mountainous stage race dominated by Americans. It was rated as 2.1 category but when you see guys like Costa, Barta, Gregaard, Wirtgen or Muller in top ten you know that it's a big, prestigious race. Above all, it's also one of the few events in junior calendar that suits climbers, which is a type of terrain that really suits Kevin despite being 193 cm tall. Kevin started the race pretty well with tenth place in ultra short prologue (2.36km). One the second stage Geniets finished fifth and was part of elite group with all the big names like Costa inside. The next stage was one of the hardest with big climb near the finish. Costa took off and won with a big gap but Kevin was the best from the rest and gave him second place in general classification. The next two stages didn't change much, Kevin finished the race on second place in both general and youth classifications, behind Costa. At the end of June Kevin finished second in National Championship in time trial, behind Tom Wirtgen. Two weeks later he took part in GP Général Patton but the race didn't really fit his characteristics. Despite that, he finished fifteenth in GC. The second highlight of the season was Oberösterreich Juniorenrundfahrt, stage race held in Austria. First two stages were pretty similar with difficult hilly courses. Geniets managed to stay in elite group on the first stage and won the second one ahead of two Belgians: Leysen and Planckaert. This result gave him sixth place overall and he sealed it on final stage which was a bunch sprint that didn't chance the final race standings. In addition, Kevin is current national champion in cyclocross and recently finished nineteenth in junior Worlds in Tabor but, as he states, cx is just a part of training as he is focused on the road and we can expect him to lead the national team on various races, especially on harder, hilly terrain.

 

Riccardo Verza (Italy, 1997)

Cycling junior
Riccardo Verza is one of those guys who didn't really shine on international level last year but still is one of the hottest prospects for upcoming season. Riccardo won one race from uci calendar (the one with a very long name: Tf GD Dorigo - MO Biemmereti - MO Cristiano Floriani - MO F. Mazzero or just simply Trofeo Guido Dorigo) which he won solo on the uphill finish in Solighetto. Other strong result on international scene came from Memorial Pietro Merelli, where Verza was a part of elite group that fought for a win. As a climber, he finished fifth while Izidor Penko has beaten Jonas Bokeloh on the line. In addition to his international win, Verza scored three more wins last season including two in one day races on Italian amateur scene. But the most important win was for sure general classification of Tre Giorni Orobica, together with Trittico del Veneto, the most important stage race for juniors in Italy. Ricky, together with his teammates from GCD Contri Autozai won the opening team time trial. The rest of the stage were run through difficult, mountainous terrain including finish at the top of Colle Gallo on second stage.Verza finished high on all three stages and thanks to the advantage he gain during TTT he won te whole race ahead of his teammate, Edoardo Affini. Next year, the young Italian will continue to ride for GCD Contri Autozai (current national champions in team time trial) but has already signed a contract with Team Colpack for 2016. With possible comeback of races like Lunigiana and Basilicata I hope that Verza will be able to shine on more international level to fully show his potential.

 

Pavel Sivakov (Russia, 1997) 

Cycling junior
Pavel, son of Russian cyclist Alexei Sivakov, didn't have perfect start of his first season as a junior. He broke his collarbone in February and it took a while for him to get back in shape. As a part of Russian national team he rode pretty big amount of races from uci calendar last year and grabbed some big results. The first notable one came from Trofeo Karlsberg where Pavel finished third in time trial, just behind Kamna and Barta which also gave him 16th place in gc (would be much higher but Sivakov missed the decisive break at the first stage). Later, after solid ride in Niedersachsen-Rundfahrt (fourteenth in gc) and anonymous in Aubel - Thimister - La Gleize came the highlight of the season: French race Ronde des Vallées held in Brittany. On the first stage Pavel was a part of early breakaway. 60km from the finish together with his teammate, Stephan Kurianov, Sivakov attacked and the duo never get caught. It was one of the greatest attacks in juniors last year. Pavel won a stage and took the leaders jersey. After finishing third on the time trial next day he managed to keep the jersey. The final stage didn't change gc as Russian team managed to control the stage and resist all the attacks, Sivakov managed to get the biggest win of his career. Few weeks later, Sivakov confirmed his good shape in Grand Prix Rüebliland. Swiss race with all star lineup was a final preparation for the Worlds. On the first stage young Russian finished fifth and was part of elite group that took almost a minute advantage on the bunch. On the third stage which was the time trial around Seon Sivakov finished second just behind Niklas Larsen and one second ahead of Lennard Kamna. This gave him second place in gc behind Kamna which he sealed in the last stage of the race. Pavel, living in France, scored some notable results in French amateur scene including win in Grand Prix Cycliste de Bagnères and finished annual Directvelo competition for French junior racing in fifth place last year. In 2015 we can expect more big results from young Russian as he will continue to split his time between living and racing in France and international events with Russian national team.



Friday, 6 February 2015

As we are getting close to the start of the season for juniors (First big race, Kuuurne Bruxellses Kuurne, will be held on 1.03.2015) I will give you a list of riders that you should watch during the 2015 season. Most of them are second year junior but as a little bonus I will write about two guys from 1998 that worth a mention (just like last year). First, let me clarify that i have excluded three obvious riders from my list as you can already read about them on my blog in recent weeks so there is no point to repeat their bio's and results here again. Those riders are Adrien Costa, Erlend Blikra and Nicola Conci.

Below is the first part of my list, enjoy!

Pascal Eenkhoorn (Netherlands, 1997)

 

Cycling junior
Pascal showed first sights of his big talent already in 2013 when he was second in European Youth Olympic Festival  road race, just behind Leo Appelt and won Askö Radjugendtour, race which is sometimes considered as the biggest u17 event of the season. In addition, in his second year as cadet, he scored impressive amount of almost twenty wins in various races in Holland, Germany and Belgium. As a first year junior Pascal started really well by getting third place in GP Bati - Metallo. Later young Dutch rider achieved solid result in Course de la Paix (sixteenth place in overall) before heading into Le Trophée Centre Morbihan where he scored one of the most notable results of the season. Pascal finished sixth in short uphill time trial which gave him fifth place in general classification. He confirmed his shape by winning two smaller time trial events in the Netherlands and by winning Omloop van de Maasvallei which is an amateur one day race but all the top Dutch juniors were on the start and Pascal managed to win after impressive solo attack in the late kilometers ahead of Fabio Jacobsen (SEG Racing in 2015) and Mitchell Cornelisse (Rabo Dev Team in 2015). He also finished second in National Championships in time trial, just three seconds behind Sjoerd Bax. Right after the Nationals, Eenkhoorn finished second in Acht van Bladel, important local stage race for Dutchies where Pascal was also second in time trial and third on the final stage. Finally, in August Pascal finished second in general classification of Aubel - Thimister - La Gleize behind David Gaudu and won team time trial together with his teammates of Dutch National Team. He also won the jersey for the first year junior. After La Gleize he won two more races in local circuit and finished his season with solid 22nd place in Ponferrada. Next year Pascal will switch teams and join Avia Wcup Cycling Team, one of the strongest junior teams in Belgium. His exceptional level in time trial and ability to stay with the best uphill might give him position of one of the top juniors in 2015.

 

Niklas Larsen (Denmark, 1997)

 

Cycling junior
Niklas Larsen is currently triple Danish National champion: he won the title in time trial on the road and two titles on track,  but above all, I consider Larsen one of the brightest prospects on road. He rode three big races in 2014 and finished in top ten in all of them. After solid tenth place in Grand Prix Bati-Metallo, the first big stage race for Niklas was Le Trophée Centre Morbihan where young Dane finished fourth in time trial which gave him third place overall and second in youth classification, just behind Erlend Blikra who won both youth and general classification. The next big race was Tour de l'Abitibi Desjardins, another Nations Cup event where Niklas rode as a part of National Team. He finished sixth in time trial (behind four Americans and young Canadian Pier-andré Coté) which again gave him high place in overall (fifth). Just a week later Larsen was a part of decisive attack and just missed the podium by finishing fourth in Ronde van Vlaanderen for juniors. The final stage race of the season for Niklas was Grand Prix Rüebliland, which should be considered as one of the most important stage races in calendar. Again Larsen showed his class in time trial by winning third stage around Seon with big gap over Pavel Sivakov and future World Champion, Lennard Kamna. Unfortunately, he missed the elite group on first stage so even the bonus seconds he scored on final stage (being second and the first from reduced peleton, just behind his countryman, Magnus Bak Klaris) didn't gave him overall win. Larsen finished sixth. Finally, the end of the season happened in Ponfferrada, where Niklas was twelve in time trial. For the next season, young Dane decided to switch teams. His second year as a junior Larsen will ride for Team Kel-Berg Roskilde Junior, the best Danish junior team and of course will be the part of National Team so we can expect him to dominate in time trials and harder terrain throughout the season.

 

Mikkel Honoré (Denmark, 1997)

 

Cycling junior
Mikkel Honoré, winner of GC in Tour de Himmelfart 2013, one of the most important stage races for cadets, didn't ride many races on international level last year but the few he did showed his big potential in classics. His season started pretty well with second place in Giro Nortof, one day race held in Germany where he was beaten only by his countrymen Mads Corell. Later, he was part of the incredibly strong Danish Team (three riders in top six) during Paris Roubaix for juniors. Mikkel didn't manage to grab a result himself because of crashes and punctures but for 2015 edition I would bet on him as one of the favorites on cobbles. In July Mikkel rode in Sint-Martinusprijs Kontich. It was his first stage race in Belgium last year and young Dane managed to win it! He started the race pretty well finishing sixth in short time trial. On the second day together with his team Kel-Berg Roskilde Honoré finished second in team time trial, won by juniors from Germany. But the most important was the queen stage on the next day. Mikkel was a part of 31 men group that took away and managed to finish in front of the peleton. Germany team worked hard to bring it back but didn't manage to do it. Honoré finished sixth on the stage and that gave him overall win. His second and final stage race in Belgium went pretty well either. Mikkel finished fourteenth in Aubel - Thimister - La Gleize and second in youth classification, just behind Pascal Eenkhoorn. Finally, Mikkel won the time trial event during Youth Olympics in Nanjing and won a silver medal in final classification that consisted five different cycling events. Next year Mikkel will continue to ride for Team Kel-Berg Roskilde and expect hm to be one of the strongest rouleurs of the peleton with some big results in classics, especially with strong wind and cobbles.

 

Tobias Foss (Norway, 1997) 

 

Cycling junior
When you check the winners list of top junior races last year you won't find and big wins from Tobias Foss but if you dig a little deeper you will find out that young Norwegian was one of the most consistent juniors of the season and one of the best from 1997. He started pretty well with two third places in amateurs races in april: Volta Limburg and Callenelle. Next, as a part of Norway National Team, Foss run three big stage races from Nations Cup calendar: Tour of Istria, Course de la Paix and Le Trophée Centre Morbihan. In Croatian race his performance was pretty anonymous as he finished 25th in gc. Then he showed his class just a few weeks later in Course de la Paix. He finished ninth in time trial around Třebenice before finishing fourteenth in the queen stage as a part of elite group behind the four leaders. Those two decent results gave him seventh place in general classification and he was the highest placed rider from 1997. Just a two weeks later he was the part of wining team at Le Trophée Centre Morbihan where Erlend Blikra won the general classification. Tobias finished eighth overall after another strong performance in time trial (eleventh). In July Foss participated in National Championships and managed to grab two medals: bronze in road race (beaten by Erlend Blikra on the finish line) and silver in time trial (beaten by.... you probably know who). As you probably noticed, Foss season was little bit shadowed by impressive results of his teammate, Erlend Blikra. One of the few events where Foss managed to beat the biggest Norwegian talent was European Championships in Nyon. Tobias managed to finish third and won bronze medal while Blikra was 13th. Next year Tobias will continue to ride for Lillehammer CK, team that developed riders like Edvald Boasson Hagen or Oskar Svendsen and probably will ride all the big events of Nations Cup for Norway team, hopefully not fully shadowed by Erlend Blikra's exceptional talent.

Stay tuned for the second part which should be published on Sunday.

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)


Cycling junior
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)


Cycling junior
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)

Cycling junior
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)


Cycling junior
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)


Cycling junior
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)


Cycling junior
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) 


Cycling juniorMy 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)

 

Cycling junior
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)


Cycling junior
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)


Cycling junior
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.