Saturday, 25 January 2014

Part III (bonus)

As an addition to my list of top juniors to watch in 2014 i decide to write a little about two kids that really showed off in 2013 and arouses interest because of their wins. Of course, they weren’t even juniors last year and they rivals came mostly from their own countries (including amateur events of course) so it’s really hard to say if they will be able to confirm their capabilities on higher level. But why not just remember their names and see what they can do ?

Adrien Costa (USA, 1997)

Young American, just like his older mate Zeke Mostov, will be a part of Jamis Bergman u23 team (that actually is a team for 16-23 years old riders, not only u23). Adrien is National Champion in novices category both in road race and time trial. In 2014 he already won, second year in a row, traditional January the 1st climb event, Mount Saint Bruno Hill Climb. Other notable results are coming from Tour of Gila (for amateurs) where Costa finished twice in top ten (on stages two and three) and he was the best (stage two) and second (stage three) from guys u20. Another solid result came from Mt Hood Cycling Classic, five day stage race for amateurs. Costa finished fourth on stage three and he was second from all under-20 riders (only Logan Owen was better). In final classification he was 11th (again, only Owen was better in u20 category). During Fayetteville Stage Race, Slipstream-Craddock team totally dominated and Costa was second in road race and time trial which gave him second in GC (behind his teammate Jordan Cullen, ahead of Zeke Mostov). Last but not least I should mention that young American won six other events in States (where he beat his older well known countrymen like Mostov, Oien and Binatena). Can’t wait to see what Adrien Costa can do on international level.

Nicola Conci (Italy, 1997)

Conci winning Coppa d'Oro
Other rider I would like to write about is young Italian, Nicola Conci. What was the reason I decide to write about this kid ? It’s number of win he managed to get on Italian scene in 2013. That’s 19! The number and the mention of Italian scene probably doesn’t mean anything to you so here are examples for comparision: Lorenzo Fortunato won 13 in 2012, Federico Zurlo won 14 in 2010,  Valerio Conti won 9 in 2009 and Luca Wackermann won 10 in 2008. As you can see none of them were close to the number that young Nicola achieved. And the names I mentioned probably show how important the ranking is. I guess there is no point to write about all the wins and guys he beaten (especially that all those events were for novices) but it’s good to mention that fourteen of those events Conci won solo, some with over a minute difference, and there were all kind of events, from spirinting to climbing with time trials also. Now it’s time to show off in Lunigiana and BasilicataJ

Here’s Nicola winning solo Coppa d’Oro 2013:

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Part II

Lorenzo Fortunato (Italy, 1996)

Fortunato winning stage one GIro del Friuli
Lorenzo Fortunato was already one of the best juniors from Italy in his first year winning five races in his native country, including Trofeo Guido Dorigo (1.1, Italy) where he beat by one second well known riders like Simone Velasco and Lorenzo Rota. His biggest win on amateur scene was in april when he won Giro dell Friuli for juniors, five day stage race. Lorenzo won not only the general classification but also the first stage. Other notable result that came during the spring was second place in Piccola San Remo. After decent first part of the season Fortunato finished fifth in European Championships road race. Later on, he was pretty consistant during Giro di Basilicata (2.1, Italy) and finished in top 10 on all three stages which gave him solid eighth in general. One week later he finished eleventh on World Chamiponships, in the group around twenty guys behind the champion, Mathieu van der Poel. Fortunato showed that he can fight in classics and mountains and with numerous of solid results last year and expected improvement in 2014 he might be one of the top juniors in the upcoming season.

Damien Touze (France, 1996)

Touze (in the middle) winning Trophee Madiot.
Young Frenchman was known on cycling scene even before his first junior season. He won Trophee Madiot, series of races for cadets organized by Marc Madiot, manager of FDJ team. Touze won that trophy in 2012. If we look at the list of previous winners (Lecuisinier, Gillemois, Zimine) it shows how big and important that event is. I have decided to include Damien on my list because of his consistency. He didn’t rode much on international scene last year but he still managed to get some solid results. The first one, and could be the biggest, was winning sprint for fourth place in Paris Roubaix (1.Ncup, France), 22 seconds behind the big three (van Hooydonck, Hart, Pedersen). Later that month he went to Croatia and rode well in Memorial Edi Rajkovic (2.Ncup, Croatia) and finished fourth again in general classification behind big names like Hart and Per. The last decent results came in july during European Chamionships where French team dominated having three guys in top four. Damien was the last one, finishing four, loosing the sprint for bronze medal to Matthias Van Gompel. Only three Frenchmen that were better in 2013 than Damien are no longer juniors which will give Touze chance to lead his national team in some of the international races in 2014.

Kristroffer Halvorsen (Norway, 1996)

Halvorsen in green jersey during Tour of Istria
Halvorsen was one of the few guys from 1996 who managed to get more than one win last year on international scene. Young Norwegian showed his best skills in sprint stages in two big stage races, Trofeo Karlsberg (2.Ncup, Germany) and Memorial Edi Rajkovic aka Tour of Istria (2.Ncup, Croatia). Halvorsen won stages in both of those races beating some of the top juniors. The stage win in Trofeo Karslberg also gave him the leader’s jersey for one day. In that race based in Germany, Halvorsen grabbed second place on the last stage, again in massive sprint, where he lost only with Pedersen. Before those big stage races, Halvorsen started his international season in Paris Roubaix (1.Ncup, France), where he finished seventh. Other notable results came from Le Trophée Centre Morbihan (2.Ncup, France), where he won bunch sprint for fifth place on stage one and came second in bunch sprint on stage three, fifth one the stage. In general classification Kristoffer finished tenth. The young sprinter from Norway for sure will be then man to beat in sprint stages in upcoming year.

Emiel Planckaert (Belgium, 1996)

Emiel Planckaert
Planckeart spent his 2013 season mostly in Belgium, riding in few international races and grabbed impressive amount of top ten places. In his first race, Grand Prix Bati-Metallo (1.1, Belgium), one day classic, he finished sixth. In july he won youth classification on Sint-Martinusprijs Kontich (2.1, Belgium) and finished on solid sixth place in general. After that, he finished second in youth classification in another Belgian race, La Gleize (2.1, Belgium), where he lost only with Jonas Gregaard. Solid performance on last stage (fourth) and good ride by his team in team time trial on stage two (second) gave him his best results of the season in general, he was fourth. Two weeks later came his last big result of the season, fourth in Philippe Gilbert juniors (1.1, Belgium) where he lost only with big names like Van Gompel, Van Hooydonck and Tom Galle.

Those eight names are the biggest talent from 1996 for me and could be one of the big stars in upcoming season. I have some bonus that will be published later on with few names but maybe some of you have some ideas for talented juniors for 2014 ? Feel free to post it!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

The season is coming, in few weeks some of the top riders will come to Belgium for a Kurrne Bruxelles Kuurne. Before that happen i decided to write a little about some names that might dominate junior category this year. Most of them will be seceond year juniors with results and prediction mostly based by their last year performance. But some will be younger. So let's start with first four names..

Part I

Igor Decreane (Belgium, 1996)

Decerane in rainbow jersey.
Who else could be the first guy on my list if not the current World Champion ? Decreane seems to be pure time trial specialist with three wins on uci calendar last year plus National Championships. He won his WC title by 8 seconds ahead of Matthias Krigbaum, 2012 European TT champion and Zeke Mostov, one of his biggest rivals in upcoming season. Right after the Worlds he went to France and smashed the field in traditional time trial event, Chrono des Nations. One of the top stars in juniors last year, Elie Gesbert, was beaten by more than a minute. That’s impressive for sure. He has also won time trial in Keizer der Juniores (2.1), one of the biggest stage races in Belgium, ahead of the guys like Oomen and van Hooydonck. But Decreane had also a big loss this year, when Russian Nikolay Cherkasov beat him by one second on European Championships. Cherkasov was also a first year junior and the battle between this two (plus Mostov) in time trials will be very interesting in 2014.

It remains to be seen how will Decreane develop in future but from the past it’s easy to spot that guys who won TT titles in juniors are usually getting better results in pro’s than those who won the road race title. Like Cancellara (twice), Kittel (twice), Kwiatkowski and Phinney.

Nikolay Cherkasov (Russia, 1996)

Cherkasov during the Worlds ITT
The young Russian, like i said before, is the current European Champion in time trial and that was his biggest success last year. But not the only win for sure. He also won National Chamiponships in time trial and, as a part of Russain national team, he won team time trial in La Glaize (2.1), Walloon stage race. But his most impressive win came from Valromey Tour in France (2.1) where he won solo mountainous stage three, 33 seconds ahead of big star van der Poel. Cherkasov could become solid GC rider since his other positive results comes mostly from stage races. He finished fourth in Nidersachsen Rundfahrt (2.1) in Germany, where he also won youth classification, ninth in Ronde des Valles (2.1, France) mostly because of solid ride in time trial where he finished seventh. The ninth place was also his position in famous Giro della Lunigiana (2.1, Italy), one of the most important stage races in junior category. 

Zeke Mostov (USA, 1996)

Zeke Mostov riding away

The third guy on my list and another one known mostly for his time trialing skills. Zeke will ride for Hages Berman u23 team in 2014. He biggest results last year was bronze medal on World Championships. His other good results came from Ettapenfahrt der Rad (2.1, Germany) where he was second in prologue and had top ten placings in two rode stages which gave him 2nd place overall (behind Dimitriy Rive) and first in youth classification. Mostov showed his time trial abilities in Nation Championships of course, where he was second, just behind Michael Dessau. One more solid result came from Course de la Paix (2.Ncup), one of the biggest events for juniors. In all star time trial Zeke Mostov finished sixth, 21 seconds behind Mads Pedersen on 12 km course. He only lost with some of the big guns like van Hooydonck, Owen, or Rask. While improving time trial skills is pretty much certainty for Mostov I would love to see him getting some results in stage races either. As a second year junior he might improve and fight for general classifications in races uncluding ITT.

Patrick Müller (Switzerland, 1996)

Patrick Muller on track
The last guy I would like to write about in this part is Swiss rider, Patrick Müller. Patrick is known not only from road races but also from track. He was a part of Swiss team that took the bronze on European Track Chamiponships in Team’s Pursuit. Patrick himself had some nice individual track results as well, like seventh place in World Championships in Omnium and seventh in European Chamipnships in Madison. But of course this blog is mostly about road races so Patrick wouldn’t be on my list if he didn’t get some top results on the road. Like many guys on my list, Muller had very successful National Championships where he took gold in road race and silver in time trial. On international scene Müller had one win this year, hilly stage three in Tour de Pays de Vaud (2.1, Switzerland) where he won by 2 seconds margin ahead of group of favorites. Solid ride in prologue and ITT (with some climbing in the last few kilometers) gave him fourth place in general classification. Two other decent results last year came from Italian one day races. First one was Trofeo Emilio Paganesi (1.1), on hilly course Patrick was beaten in two man finale by Dimitryi Strakhov. Three weeks later (in the time between Muller was in top 10 on two stages and in general in Swiss stage race, GP Ruebliand (2.1)) he was third in Trofeo Bussato, won by Robert Power. Patrick Muller looks like a talented hilly rider with good speed and some climbing abilities.

Stay tuned for next part.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

On the uci website we can find the whole calendar for the 2014 season. Here's the link. I won't write down about every race (might prepare some previews before the major races later on) but i decided to write a little about changes.

The first new race in calendar is Grote Prijs Andre Noyelle which will be held on 16.03.2014. The race will be a part of the bigger event including races for pro's (last edition was won by Jerome Baugnies), juniors and novices. As an amateur event the race was won by some big names like Devolder or Meersman. Looks like a solid addition to calendar.

Another addition to the calendar is Memorial Dimitar Yankov, the first uci event for juniors in Bulgaria, organized by Bulgarian Cycling Union. The race will be held between 15th and 17th may. Another addition, also located on the Balkans, will be Belgrade Trophy Milan Panic. Looks like it's going to be first edition in uci calendar of the race called Days of Belgarde which had some nice history (43 editions!) as an amateur event. It'a a weekend event, played between 6th and 7th of July. Going further we are still in the Balkans region since the next addition to the juniors calendar is Sofia Varna, four day event in Bulgaria either. Those three races in South-East Europe is a nice develop to the calendar, i'm hoping that some of the big names will show up and maybe it will be a chance to the locals to improve and show their talent.

And that's it. Rest of the calendar is basically the same as in 2013 with minor changes of the dates (like moving Le Trophée Centre Morbihan to may, previously held on august) or category change like Tour de l'Abitibi which is promoted to 2.Ncup category again.