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)