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.

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