Friday, 25 September 2015

The final junior road race event of the year is right around the corner. Uci World Championships in Richmond will conclude the junior season and with all the top riders from under 19 category on the start line we may be witnessing a fascinating battle for the rainbow.

The route

Circuit profile (photo:
 As the official website describes: "All road races will take place on a challenging, technical and inner-city road circuit. The peloton heads west from Downtown Richmond, working their way onto Monument Avenue, a paver-lined, historic boulevard that’s been named one of the “10 Great Streets in America.” Racers will take a 180-degree turn at the Jefferson Davis monument and then maneuver through the Uptown district and Virginia Commonwealth University. Halfway through the circuit, the race heads down into Shockoe Bottom before following the canal and passing Great Shiplock Park, the start of the Virginia Capital Trail. A sharp, off-camber turn at Rocketts Landing brings the riders to the narrow, twisty, cobbled 200-meter climb up to Libby Hill Park in the historic Church Hill neighborhood. A quick descent, followed by three hard turns leads to a 100-meter-long climb up 23rd Street. Once atop this steep cobbled hill, riders descend into Shockoe Bottom. This leads them to the final 300-meter-long climb up Governor Street. At the top, riders face a 680-meter false flat to the finish." 

Adrien Costa during the recon ride on 23rd Street (photo: Nick Davis)

Riders will face eight laps, 16,2km long each. The first twelve kilometers are basically flat and quite easy with just a few technical turns. Then, the real racing starts, we have three hills in the last four kilometers of each lap.

The hills:

Libby Park, 215 meters long, avg. 8%, max 9%
23rd Street, 185m, avg. 12%, max 13%
Governor Street, 295m, avg. 7%, max 8%

Detailed climbs profile
These are the official gradients but actually the Libby Park, according to the riders is little bit easier, mostly 6-7% while 23rd Street is actually harder with the max gradient reaching 20% at some point. The descent after  23rd Street is technical so even a small gap at the top of the climb might be enough to get away.

Libby Hill
Asked few riders what do they think about the course and possible race scenarios.
Pavel Sivakov says "It is gonna be a hard race. Two cobbled climbs, the first without a big grade, around 6-7%, 300m climb. The second is shorter but with a big grade around 15-16%. And after the top it's the same road as in time trial. All climbs are in last 4km so it is really good for late attacks."

"Course is very interesting. Mostly flat with a few sharp turns which makes position in the bunch important. More important though is the final 4km really tough with a technical downhill... I predict utter chaos if wet. Governor street climb and the drag to the finish I think is the hardest part of the course after fatigue from the two cobble climbs" says Keagan Girdlestone.

Tobias Foss from Norway expects a stressful day: "I think it will be a hard race.. It is going to be hard into the hills, because everyone wants to be at the front.. So it is going to be an intense race that needs a lot of concentration and the riders not only get tired physically, but also mentally.. I think it is going to be like the classic races. A lot of stress and a hard course"

Jasper Philipsen hopes it will work well for Belgium team:  "I think a nice route for the Belgium riders with two cobbled climbs. We start with a strong team. I hope a sprint in a smaller group but it can go in all directions I think."

Billy Innes, DS of US junior team expects "Big splits. Small finishing group. It's F1 the whole last five kilometers of every lap. It'll split for sure."

The favorites

If we look at the profile only, without taking care about the weather conditions, tactics and the fact it's the Worlds, the biggest favorites should be Aleksandr Kulikovskiy from Russia. He's silver medalist from last year and a specialist in sprints from reduced group. He's extremely fast on the line and can survive the hills for sure. A year ago in Ponferrada he has already proven that if the race went the way he wants, he can fight for the victory.

Same goes with Serbian rider, Dusan Rajovic. He's fast and capable of surviving the hills. If he will be there with the best at the bottom of Governor Street he might end up with gold medal for sure. Rajovic recently won the final stage of Grand Prix Rüebliland. But it's worth to point out that Rajovic starts alone as the only Serbian rider. It will be extremely difficult for him to stay off the wind and follow the right attacks. If anything goes wrong, like crash or puncture it may be over for him at any moment.

The more possible scenario is that the strongest teams will make the race hard and split the bunch, especially if it rains. Then, it's possible that a late attack of one or few strongest riders will stay away. As the strongest teams of the race I would point: USA, Denmark, Netherlands and Belgium of course.

American team is extremely strong. Each of their rider can win this race, trust me. Adrien Costa may not be the sprinter or hills specialist but he's a pure talent so better not give him any space in the final lap or he may sneak out and you will see him again on the podium with rainbow. The other favorite has to be Brandon McNulty, he proved this year that he can sprint if needed and I'm sure he will be up there in the race final. In Driedaagse van Axel cobbled stage he managed to jump across to the elite group of rides, all by himself proving that the classics and cobbles is something that really fits him. He's definitely one of the top favorites.

Danish team is always strong in junior events. No matter how the course is, Danes will be up there in front on the race finale. Same as in US team, each rider is capable of winning. My personal pick is Mathias Norsgaard. Big guy, classic specialist and great puncher can sprint or try a late attack in the final kilometers. He was pretty unlucky this year with few crashes and injuries but lately he showed good form finishing sixth in Grand Prix Rüebliland. In August he won a stage in Le Gleize before riding well in the two Italian classics (Trofeos Emilio Paganessi and Pietro Marelli) where he was up there with the best.

The Netherlands brings Pascal Eenkhoorn who had a superb start of the season winning two big classics and finishing second in Paris Roubaix. Lately, he was eighth in Grand Prix Rüebliland and ninth in Pietro Marelli Memorial so he's clearly in shape. If the race ends with a sprint from a bigger group it should be a chance for Bram Welten to shine. Less then a month ago he won Omloop der Vlaamse Gewesten after sprint from elite group which proved that he's ready for the Worlds.

Belgium team is as strong as the US for sure. If it comes down to a sprint it will be a chance for Robbe Ghys or Jasper Philipsen. If we see a late attack it should be either Stan Dewulf or Aaron Verwilst. Dewulf didn't manage to score a win this year despite being close few times this year in the biggest races, maybe in Richmond he will finally rise his arms crossing the line.

Germany brings the newly crowned gold medalist in time trial, Leo Appelt. Germany TT champion proved that he can sprint well after a hard race like in the opening stage of Niedersachsen-Rundfahrt where he has beaten all the strongest riders of the race in small group sprint. Other strong German riders are sprinter Max Kanter and puncher Martin Salomon.

Switzerland brings two possible winners. Gino Mader, fifth in time trial, recently finished second in Grand Prix Rüebliland after impressive performance on the opening stage where he broke away together with his team mate, Marc Hirschi. They took over a minute gap and the race for GC was over, Hirschi won and Mader was second.

My personal outsider is Clement Betouigt-Suire. Big Frenchman had difficult second part of the season with injuries and I'm not sure how he feels but if he's ready he can win the race. He showed this year that despite being first year junior he can sprint against the best and win races. If we have a difficult conditions with wind and rain and Clement feels good he may surprise many and win the race.


Actually you can't predict how it will finish. There are so many possible scenarios and with all the best riders at the start there are at least twenty names capable of winning. Most of the riders I mention above can win the rainbow but if I have to pick a few I bet on Kulikovskiy, McNulty and Norsgaard.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Leo Appelt from Germany is the new World Champion in time trial after brilliant performance on course in the city of Richmond. Adrien Costa and Brandon McNulty, two American riders and biggest pre race favorites, finished second and third respectively.

Final podium: Adrien Costa, Leo Appelt, Brandon McNulty (photo: Tim de Waele)

Leo Appelt completed the 30km time trial in time of 37:45 which would give him fourth place in under23 race held a day before. Adrien Costa lost 17 seconds while Brandon McNulty lost 59.

Ilya Gorbushin, first year junior from Kazakhstan, was the early starter that surprised many by riding below 40 minutes as the first rider. He was the leader for quite a long time finishing on the ninth place in the end.

Leo Appelt on the road for rainbow (photo: Tim de Waele)
Leo Appelt also started pretty early and right from the first checkpoint it was obvious that he is riding for podium spot. He set amazing time at the first split, 8:17 which was only one second slower then Mads Wurtz in u23 race the day before. He managed to keep the amazing pace, especially in the final part of the race and took the lead with almost two minutes gap on Gorbushin. Another strong performance from the second wave of riders was Alexys Brunel ride, first year junior and vice champion of France in time trial, who managed to finish just behind Gorbushin and was tenth at the end of the day.

Brandon McNulty (photo:
McNulty was the late starter in second group of riders. Tension was rising as American was coming to the first checkpoint but the huge gap we saw (almost thirty seconds behind Appelt) was a sign that it's going to be extremely hard to beat Appelt that day. McNulty managed to keep Appelt's pace in the middle part of the course but in the final part it was just a little bit too fast for Brandon and he finished 59 seconds behind Appelt. Second place at the moment and bronze medal at the end, still amazing result for first year junior.

The third wave was all about Keagan Girdlestone and Jasper Philipsen. Two totally different riders, climbing prospect from South Africa (or New Zeeland) and future classic specialists and first year junior was riding pretty equally on the whole course until the final split where Girdlestone managed to speed up a little and took the second place on the line, behind Appelt. Philipsen started earlier and was dropped to third place at the moment, finishing the time trial on sixth spot and second highest ranked first year junior, behind McNulty.

Jasper Philipsen (photo: @JSaulsky)
The final group of nine riders was filled with the favorites. First one was Tobias Foss who managed to keep the good pace on whole course and finished the day on eighth spot. Right after him, we had two riders who managed to set great time at first split. Both Niklas Larsen and Gino Mader was close to McNulty on all three checkpoints. Mader even managed to ride faster then McNulty on third checkpoint and took his second spot for the moment. But in the end, both riders faded and Mader finished fourth (fifth in the end) and Larsen was seventh in the final standings.

The last rider who could beat Appelt was the final starter, Adrien Costa. Possibly the biggest talent in
Adrien Costa (photo:
his age category, surprisingly being overshadowed by McNulty's performances this year, started pretty slow and was only sixth at the first split, already 26 seconds behind Appelt. The battle for gold was over ? Thought so. But Costa proved to be an amazing rider and managed to get closer to Appelt on the next two checkpoints. At the finish of the first lap he was just 17 seconds behind and at the third one only two seconds were left! But Appelt was simply unbeatable at the last part of the course, Costa lost 17 seconds and in the end and took silver medal, once again after finished second last year in Ponferrada.

All the top riders gave their first thoughts to Directvelo journalist:
Leo Appelt was surprised about his result: "I do not believe that I won the World Title. I am also a little surprised at my victory. I tried to keep a constant speed throughout the thirty kilometers. And finally, I'm the fastest. Nevertheless, it was very tight until the end with Adrien Costa. Stay on the "Hot Seats" for nearly two hours was also very difficult. Now I am free and I have no pressure for the road race on Saturday. "

Brandon McNulty was more then happy about his performance: "I knew that against the clock to thirty kilometers was very long before taking the start, especially for me. First we had the tailwind and we reach to 60 km / h speeds. I therefore preferred not to give everything from the start, especially as we had a headwind in the second part. I wanted to give everything in the lump. I just did the same in the second round. It's great to be my first medal for the World Championship and especially in the first year Junior. Now I hope I can fight for the title next year. "

Adrien Costa won a silver medal once again: "I wanted to win. But I finished two years in a row on the podium, so I can't be disappointed. I was highly motivated. The crowd really helped me, encouraged, especially in the last climb."
About Saturday's road race:  "I tried not to think about it. Now I'll start to concentrate on Saturday. I will be very interested, but collectively we have a very strong team,"

Keagan Girdlestone finished fourth in the hardest time trial of his career:
"It's amazing to realize such performance for my first participation in the World Championships."
"Quite a stressful time, but enjoyable to go through." he said about sitting on "Hot Seats" for quite a long time. "It was the biggest battle against the clock of my career. But I rarely perform thirty kilometers of individual effort. It was therefore painful. There was also a lot of wind, especially headwind at the second pass over the bridge." 
About atmosphere and Saturday's race: "There is a great atmosphere here. The people are very welcoming and will not hesitate to support us on the side of the road. I'll take a rest and concentrate fully on the road race where I also hope to achieve a good result " 

Full detailed results with time splits and each checkpoint can be found here:Tissottiming

You should also check great stats prepared by @Velofacts showing how strong was Appelt at the first and last sections: Velofacts stats

Monday, 21 September 2015

After a long break which was caused by both a lot of work and long awaited holidays, I'm back right in time for the most important junior event of the year, World Championships in Richmond, Virginia.

The route

Juniors will tackle two laps of 15 kilometers circuit in the city of Richmond. As the official document describes "Racers will head west from downtown to Monument Avenue, a paved-lined historic boulevard that’s been named one of the “10 Great Streets in America.” From there, the course makes a 180-degree turn and continues in the opposite direction. The race then cuts through the Uptown district before coming back through Virginia Commonwealth University and then crossing the James River. After a technical turnaround, the race comes back across the James and works its way through downtown Richmond, eventually heading up the 300-meter-long climb on Governor Street. At the top, riders will face a false flat 680 meters to the finish"

Time trial lap map (photo:

Time trial lap profile (photo:

The Governor Street (avg. 7%, max 8%) will definitely soften the legs, especially at the second passing right before the finish. As I expect pretty close battle for the win, this might be the crucial point of the race. The route is described as technical but apart from few difficult turns riders will pass mostly across wide, almost highway like, roads where pure power and aerodynamics will be the most important.

The favorites

Obvious is obvious. Brandon McNulty won every time trial in junior category he entered this year. The big wins was for sure at Course de la Paix where he crushed the opposition including Adrien Costa and won with a big gap and at Driedaagse van Axel where he has beaten some of the other favorites like Mader and Storer. He is also current US champion in time trial where he won just a seconds ahead of Costa. Same goes with Tour de l'Abitibi Desjardins time trial where he also won ahead of his team mate and the biggest rival. I could tell you a lot about how versatile rider Brandon is but let's keep that for the road race preview. Can he handle the pressure ? If yes, and if his form is as good as we already seen few times this year, McNulty is the hot favorite. The only disadvantage I can find is that this will be the longest TT he rides this year and he doesn't have the experiance from last year's Worlds like the other favorites has.

Adrien Costa is silver medalist in time trial from Ponferrada and for sure is a hot favorite to win another medal this year in Richmond. Apart from three second places behind McNulty this year, he also finished second in Trofeo Karlsberg where only Niklas Larsen was fastest and won the time trial during Tour du Pays de Vaud beating Mader by quite a margin. Costa is one year older, more experienced and for sure motivated to win. If someone is going to beat McNulty it will probably be Costa.

The only rider that was able to beat Costa this year and wasn't named McNulty was Danish rider Niklas Larsen. Apart from his big win in Trofeo Karlsberg, Niklas also won time trial during Grand Prix Rüebliland earlier this month showing signs of good form right before the Worlds. But it's also worth to note that Larsen won the same TT in Rüebliland a year ago but few weeks later wasn't able to ride that fast in Ponferrada and finished twelfth. He will be up there with the top10 being almost certain but form of the day will decide if he can fight for the medals.

Last year third, Michael Storer is another strong contender for the podium. Current Australian road race champion showed strong form lately winning the queen stage in Aubel - Thimister - La Gleize just a day after he was second and won the sprint of elite group in the previous stage. He was also second in time trial during Niedersachsen-Rundfahrt only beaten by local star, Bastian Flicke. Earlier this year he was third in Driedaagse van Axel just behind McNulty and Mader.

The last from the biggest favorites for the time trial is Swiss rider Gino Mader. Swiss champion in time trial was close to win in all three big time trial tests he entered this year. He was second in Driedaagse van Axel, second in Tour du Pays de Vaud and fourth in Grand Prix Rüebliland lately proving he's in shape right before the Worlds. Last year in Ponferrada he was nineteenth as first year junior but I am sure that Mader is able to finish on podium this time.

Other names to watch: Nikolay Ilichev, Tobias Foss, Matteo Sobrero, Pavel Sivakov, Anthon Charmig, Leo Appelt and Michael O'Loughlin.


I'm on McNulty. He will win again proving to be the best junior rider of the year. Costa and Storer will get silver and bronze, just like last year. If anyone can really surprise and beat this guys it will be my dark horse pick: Keagan Girdlestone.

Start order and times (for Europe time, add six hours)

09:30:00 57 PHONARJTHAN Patompob THAILAND
09:31:00 56 BATSAIKHAN Tegsh-Bayar MONGOLIA
09:32:00 55 MANO Yuttana THAILAND
09:35:00 52 STANNARD Robert NEW ZEALAND
09:36:00 51 PORTILLA Bryan ECUADOR
09:37:00 50 MANSOURI Oussama ALGERIA
09:38:00 49 SAWADA Keitaro JAPAN
09:39:00 48 EL KOURAJI Mouhcine MOROCCO
09:41:00 46 DEWULF Stan BELGIUM
09:42:00 45 TAYLOR Joel CANADA
09:43:00 44 MONTOYA Javier COLOMBIA
09:44:00 43 DE VINK Gregory SOUTH AFRICA
09:45:00 42 GAMPER Patrick AUSTRIA

10:20:00 41 BRUNEL Alexys FRANCE
10:21:00 40 APPELT Leo GERMANY
10:22:00 39 CONCI Nicola ITALY
10:23:00 38 O'LOUGHLIN Michael IRELAND
10:24:00 37 SLEEN Torjus NORWAY
10:25:00 36 CHARMIG Anthon DENMARK
10:28:00 33 SWEENY Harry AUSTRALIA
10:30:00 31 CHUA Merrill Jern-E SINGAPORE
10:31:00 30 YERI MINGO Santiago ARGENTINA
10:32:00 29 D. KOVACS David Gabor HUNGARY
10:34:00 27 GAVARS Eriks Toms LATVIA

11:10:00 25 FOUCHE James NEW ZEALAND
11:11:00 24 ANDERSSON Gustav SWEDEN
11:12:00 23 ALONSO Pablo SPAIN
11:13:00 22 SIERRA Erik ECUADOR
11:14:00 21 MANSOURI Islam ALGERIA
11:16:00 19 ISHIGAMI Masahiro JAPAN
11:17:00 18 SAJNOK Szymon Wojciech POLAND
11:18:00 17 CHOKRI El Mehdi MOROCCO
11:20:00 15 PHILIPSEN Jasper BELGIUM
11:21:00 14 GEE Derek CANADA
11:22:00 13 CARDONA Julian COLOMBIA
11:24:00 11 GALL Felix AUSTRIA
11:25:00 10 LOUVET Louis FRANCE

12:00:00 9 SINGER Max GERMANY
12:01:00 8 SOBRERO Matteo ITALY
12:02:00 7 TUOMEY Simon IRELAND
12:03:00 6 FOSS Tobias NORWAY
12:04:00 5 LARSEN Niklas DENMARK
12:07:00 2 STORER Michael AUSTRALIA

Monday, 13 July 2015

Next week LEADout Academy from South Africa starts their journey in Europe and for most of their juniors it will be the first time to taste European racing. Read my interview with one of them, Aidan Van Niekerk

Hello Aidan, for the start, could you give us a small introduction about yourself?

I'm Aidan van Niekerk, an 18-year-old cyclist from George, South Africa. I've been a massive cycling fan since I was about 11, but only started cycling with serious intent when I turned 14. Most of my cycling thus far has been racing on our MTB marathon scene, but since the beginning of the year I've had a more serious focus on road racing. I love all kinds of climbing - but being quite a small guy, I'm pretty sure it's the only terrain that suits me.

How did you start cycling?

Contrary to popular belief, we don't actually live in grass huts and ride around on elephants here in the RSA, so sorry to disappoint if you're expecting a story of where I was forced to ride 30km to and back from school everyday! My parents actually started MTBing to improve their health (and probably because of a mid-life crisis), and being a little 11-year-old, I followed suit. As the years progressed, I discovered my competitive nature and started taking things seriously.

I know you are now riding for LEADout academy in South Africa. Can you tell us more how did you get there and how is the academy working?

Well, I guess Barry Austin (LEADout Principle) was impressed by something I did in race and I got a call from him offering me the opportunity. LEADout academy is actually "restarting" this year after a few years of absence. The academy aims to develop young riders and give them the opportunity to get some exposure against the best juniors in the world when we race in Europe. It was previously know as "ACL" and its alumni include Louis Meintjes, Johann van Zyl, Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, John-Lee Augustyn, and Jaco Venter. This year LEADout will be sending a 6-man junior squad over to Europe with Barry Austin and John-Lee Augustyn as our managers.

How would you sum up this season so far ? Are you happy with your results?

Up to this point I'm quite happy. I really aimed to win a national title, but that didn't go as planned. That being said, my biggest aim is obviously when we head to Europe next month, so I'll evaluate my season based on what I achieve there. In January, I didn't even dream about going to Europe, so having been offered that opportunity I can already view this season as a success.

Next month, you are heading to Europe. Which races are you planning to ride ?

We'll be based in Oudenaarde, Belgium for the most part and will do a few kermesses in the area to keep us race-ready. Our UCI race schedule is as follows:
- Oberöstereich Juniorenrundfahrt
- Internationale Niedersachsen Rundfahrt
- Ronde van Vlaanderen Juniores
- Aubel-Thimster-La Gleize
- Ronde des Vallées

Are you going to ride as national team in Europe or as LeadOUT academy ? I've noticed that none of the races are from Nations Cup calendar, why is that ?

We're representing LEADout Academy in all of our races and not acting as a national team. Quite honestly, I'm not quite sure why there's no South African representation at some Nations Cup events because we have quite a few capable riders who are already in Europe. There's too much politics involved, I guess.

Does the national federation support your trip to Europe ? Seems like an important part in developing future champions!

Unfortunately there's no structured development system like the well-oiled machine that the Americans have. We have to go about covering all our expenses at our own cost (luckily LEADout helps with subsidising certain expenses). For example, bringing my TT bike with us just creates a bigger logistical nightmare and extra expense, so it's staying behind. If it wasn't for LEADout and their work, I'm really not sure how SA talents like Meintjes, Van Zyl, etc., would've got the necessary exposure as juniors. Sure, we might not be a cycling nation like Belgium or France, but there are a lot of young South African juniors who have the talent and work-ethic to become professionals. All they need is the high-level exposure in Europe and they're good to go. It's a pity that many talented guys will never get that opportunity because of the financial constraints of traveling abroad for weeks. It's definitely something that is lacking on the part of Cycling South Africa, and I would love to see that change for the good of our national development.

MTN-Qubeka seems like a team focused on developing African riders, they have u23 team but what about juniors ? Does young riders in SA get any support from MTN team ?

There's no development team for juniors. We don't receive any direct support or assistance, but the feeder team does a very good job at developing the u23 African riders. For this season, they signed a few juniors from last year and, if anything, it's an incentive for juniors to perform.

I have heard you never rode on cobbles! Is that true ?

Another aspect lacking in South Africa is cobbled roads! Besides for a few driveways, there are no cobbles in sight. We do, however, have some really shitty roads which could pass for cobbles - and I spent some time on gravel to get used to a different kind of surface to tar. But I'm looking forward to tackling the pavé in Flanders!

What are your expectations before heading to race in Europe ? Any specific race that you would like to perform well ?

It's my first time ever riding at such a high level and I expect to get my ass handed to me at every race! That being said, I am in the best shape yet, so maybe I won't be too useless. The biggest aim would be to learn as much as possible to build a platform to come back in the coming years. I'd like to target climbing races and stages, most probably Oberösterreich and La Gleize.

Which race was the highlight of your career so far ?

Having never had the opportunity to race internationally, I can't really say I've had any major results. Grabbing a podium at SA TT champs was probably my best ride. It was my first-ever proper TT and considering I was mostly a mountain biker up until then, I can view it as a nice surprise.

In few months you will end your career period as a junior. What are your plans for the future ?

I've never planned on turning pro, despite loving the sport and racing, because riding in Europe was more of a fantasy. With LEADout I now have the opportunity to head to Europe in the coming years as well, which has opened a lot of doors. I'll be studying in Stellenbosch (which is SA's cycling-Mecca) and will hopefully return to race in Europe during July-September of every year. Guys like Chad Haga, Adam Hansen, and Romain Bardet have convinced me that studying and a cycling career can be combined. Perhaps I can do a post-grad course in Europe and turn full-professional in that year. It is a cliché, but we can never be sure what the future will bring, can we?

Do you have a cycling idol ? Or a rider you are cheering for ?

I draw a lot of inspiration from the South Africans on Team MTN-Qhubeka. I can relate to them a lot and have a lot of respect for being able to get where they are. Seeing Louis Meintjes ripping it up on the mountain slopes is definitely something to cheer for too.

Last question: who will win Tour de France 2015 and why ? :-)

Mmm... I think it may be Quintana's year. He's been trying to keep a low profile so far and that may be with good reason.

Thanks for your time!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Swiss rider Marc Hirschi won 68th edition of GP Général Patton in Luxembourg. German rider Georg Zimmermann finished second and Bjorg Lambrecht from Belgium was third and won the mountains classification while Zimmermann won the points jersey.

Final race podium (photo: swisscycling)

The first stage from Ettelbruck to Troisvierges (102 kilometers)  finished with a successful breakaway that splitted on the final kilometers. Slovenian rider Ziga Horvat won solo just two seconds ahead of National Belgian road race champion Bjorg Lambrecht and Marc Hirschi from Switzerland. The peleton was shattered by a fast pace on climbs and windy conditions. The breakaway consisted 16 riders and it's certain that the overall winner will come from those 16.

Ziga Horvat wins the first stage (photo: Herve Dancerelle/ Directvelo)

The final stage around Wincrange (97 kilometers) won German rider Martin Salmon after an attack in the final kilometers. Italian Nicola Conci tried to go with three kilometers to go but Salmon managed to counter his attack and won solo. His teammate Georg Zimmermann finished second and Andre Carvahlo from Portugal was third. Thanks to his fourth spot Marc Hirschi won the overall. Ziga Horvat lost almost a minute on the second stage and dropped to seventh place overall.


Final GC

Friday, 10 July 2015

Despite having only two stages, GP Général Patton, is one of the most important stage races of the year in junior category. The first edition of the race held in Northern Luxembourg was in 1947 as an event for cadets. Since 1964 it's an junior event and since 2008 it's a part of UCI Nations Cup.

Kim Kirchen, Simon Spilak and recent climbing sensation, Jan Hirt won the race in previous editions while Michael Matthews, Michael Valgren and Mathieu van der Poel all finished on the podium. Interesting that local hero, Bob Jungels, was far back in both editions he raced despite being a big star in his junior years.

The route is basically the same as last year. We have two stages over the weekend with the first one from Ettelbruck to Troisvierges which is 102km long and should end up with a bigger group finish. Riders will face four short categorized climbs but the last 25,5km of the stage  held on the circuit around Troisvierges is quite flat and should help sprinter teams to bring the race together for the final bunch sprint.

Stage 1 profile
Last year the stage ended with successful solo breakaway in the final kilometers. Valentin Madouas, French track specialist won ahead of his team mate, Damien Touze.

The Sunday stage is shorter (97km) but harder as riders will face five laps around Wincrange with Boevange climb (1,8km long with average 6,74%) on each lap. The last pass is 14,5km from the finish and should give an opportunity for late attack or at least will split the bunch and we can expect reduced bunch sprint.

Last year, Russian Alexander Vlasov won solo, ten seconds ahead of the reduced peleton brought by Italian rider Lorenzo Fortunato. Stage win also gave Vlasov final GC win ahead of Madouas and Fortunato.

Last year's GC:
Names to watch: Szymon Sajnok, Alan Banaszek, Hakon Aalrust, Tanguy Turgis, Kevin Geniets, Michel Ries, Dennis Van der Hoorst, Jakob Egholm, Dusan Rajovic, Sander De Pestel, Siim Kiskonen

Race website

Thursday, 9 July 2015

In the shadow of Tour de France there is quite a lot of junior racing planned for July. The first event was 52nd edition of Sint-Martinusprijs Kontich, Belgian stage race held last week.

Mikkel Honore on the podium (photo: Team Kel-berg Roskilde)

Mikkel Honore from Denmark, the defending champion, won again on Belgian roads. The podium was completed by two Belgian riders: Sander De Pestel and Ward Jaspers.

The race started with evening time trial on Friday. Team Kel-berg Roskilde (as you probably know, one of the strongest junior teams in the world) won despite Jacob Egholm's mechanical  over Monkeytown Cycling Team and Van Boer Group Team. Mathias Norsgaard was the first leader just ahead of Mikkel Honore.

Team Kel-berg Roskilde on the road for the stage win (photo:

The second stage around Antwerp was decisive. 29 riders went clear including Honore, De Pestel, Jespers and other big names like Nieuwpoort, Panis, Schelling and cyclocross superstar Eli Iserbyt. They managed to gain two minutes over the peleton and it was sure that the GC will be decided between those 29. In the final kilometers Sander De Pestel jumped away from a group of ten riders and finished solo, just three seconds ahead of Honore and Finish rider Jaako Hanninen. Thanks to his second place, Honore was the new race leader while De Pestel took two other jerseys: points and youth.

Sunday was Sasha Weemaes day as young Belgian won both stages: morning time trial and sprint stage later on. Mikkel Honore was fourth in the time trial and extended his lead in GC as De Pestel was tenth and lost a handful of seconds. The sprint stage didn't affect the GC but showed first sparks of Weemaes talent on international level. Last year, he was one of the strongest riders in U17 category and scored big amount of wins, almost as much as Philipsen. On both stages, Mathias Norsgaard was second.

The final stage around Kontich finished with a unusual bunch sprint and the GC didn't change at all. Dutch rider Tristan Rijsdijk won by a solo attack in the final kilometers, few bike lengths ahead of Batuhan Ozgur from Turkey (big surprise!) and Laurens Vandermeer from Belgium. Mikkel Honore was the final winner, the first rider in the race history who managed to defend his title.

Tristan Rijsdijk winning the final stage (photo: Het Nieuwsblad)

Final GC:

Thursday, 25 June 2015

All the results and some photos from the week of National Championships in junior men category.


Road Race (Emmen, 117,9km)

1. Maarten Kooistra
2. Pascal Eenkhoorn
3. Lars Van den Berg

Full results

Time Trial (Emmen, 26,5km)

1. Maarten Kooistra
2. Pascal Eenkhoorn
3. Daan Zebel

Full Results


Road Race (Lillehammer)

1. Tobias Foss
2. Ivar Knotten
3. Torjus Sleen

Full results

Time Trial

1. Tobias Foss
2. Torjus Sleen
3. Hans Rudland

Full results


Road Race

1. Szymon Krawczyk
2. Karol Cygan
3. Damian Sławek

Full results

Time Trial

1. Szymon Sajnok
2. Adrian Kaiser
3. Daniel Staniszewski

Full results


Road Race

1. Marc Hirchi
2. Stefan Bissigger
3. Reto Muller

Full results

Time Trial

1. Gino Mader
2. Jonas Doring
3. Marc Hirschi

Full results


Road Race

1. Jonathan Brown
2. Gage Hecht
3. Willem Kaiser

Full results

Time Trial

1. Brandon McNulty
2. Adrien Costa
3. Gage Hecht

Full results


Road Race

1. Gabriel Hallgren
2. David Jacobsson
3. Oscar Recina

Full results

Time Trial

1. Gustav Andersson
2. Felix Nisell
3. Erik Sandersson

Full results


Road Race

1. Cristian Scaroni
2. Simone Bevilacqua
3. Francesco Faresin

Full results

Road Race

1. Rasmus Lund Pedersen
2. Anthon Charmig
3. Julius Johansen

Full results

Time Trial (Rønde, 26,4km)

1. Anthon Charmig
2. Mathias Norsgaard
3. Niklas Larsen

Full results

Czech Republic

Road Race

1. Michal Brazda
2. Jakub Otruba
3. Matěj Štibingr

Time Trial (Žilina, 34km)

1. Jakub Otruba
2. Jiri Sorm
3. Lukas Slavik

Full results


Road Race

1. Juraj Michalička
2. Adrián Foltán
3. Tomáš Person

Time Trial (Žilina, 34km)

1. Samuel Oros
2. Matej Ulik
3. Ladislav Knieha

Full results


Road Race

1. Colin Heiderscheid
2. Noah Fries
3. Pit Leyder

Full results

Time Trial (Eschweiler, 24,6km)

1. Kevin Geniets
2. Michel Ries
3. Pit Leyder

Full results


Road Race
1. Aleksander Borysov
2. Denis Nekrasov
3. Dimitry Markov

Full results

Time Trial (Seransk, 28km)

1. Pavel Sivakov
2. Sergey Rostovtcev
3. Aynur Galeev

Full results

Monday, 8 June 2015

German rider Patrick Haller won 28th edition of Trofeo Karlsberg. Thomas Vereecken from Belgium and Clement Betouigt-Suire from France completed the podium. Frenchman also won the young rider classification while Chris Blevins from USA team won the mountains jersey.

Trofeo Karlsberg 2015 podium: Vereecken, Haller, Suire (photo:
The race contained three road stages with difficult but short steep climbs in each of them and a short time trial on Saturday morning.

The opening stage around Bliesdalheim which was 89km long won Jack Maddux from US team ahead of his teammate Chris Blevins and Filippo Mori from Italy. All of them were a part of the breakaway that went away from the big group and finished over a minute ahead. Jack Maddux attacked three kilometers from the finish and managed to gain almost 30 seconds gap over the six chasers. Peleton arrived 1:49 behind the winner.

Jack Maddux celebrates solo win (photo:


The morning time trial on second day was a battle between the big names for a stage win but also the battle for the GC between fourteen riders that arrived in front of the peleton on the first stage. The stage win went to Niklas Larsen from Denmark who managed to beat Adrien Costa by four seconds and Mattia Sobrero from Italy by eight seconds.

Thomas Vereecken took the leaders jersey after time trial (photo:

The GC battle was exciting as both Americans didn't ride that well to keep their top places. Surprisingly Thomas Vereecken took the leaders jersey after finishing sixth on the stage. Mathias Norsgaard was just 4 seconds slower and jumped to second place in gc while Patrck Haller from Germany moved to third place overall.


On the same day riders faced 79 kilometers stage with three loops around Homburg with two short climbs on every lap. The early breakaway with Alan Banaszek, Hakon Aalrust, Martin Salmon and Louis Louvet stayed in front for the first two laps before the battle for the race win started.

After the only categorized climb of the day the break formed with Pavel Sivakov, Andreas Nielsen, Michael O'Loughlin, Hans Rudland and Martin Salmon, who was the part of early breakaway. The five leaders managed to gain a 40 seconds gap but on the final hill of the day counter attack of thirteen riders went away, including big names like Costa, Larsen and Eenkhoorn. Patrick Haller, the third rider in GC, also managed to get away while Vereecken was left in the group behind. The strong group quickly managed to join the leaders. On the final kilometers the group splitted again and Andreas Stokbro Nielsen won the stage ahead of Martin Salmon and Pavel Sivakov. Thomas Vereecken arrived 34 seconds behind and lost the leaders jersey. Patrick Haller was the new leader.

Andreas Stokbro Nielsen wins the sprint (photo:


The final stage around Gersheim was 99km long and contained four big laps around the city. As the previous two road stages, there were two climbs on the each lap. Despite numerous attacks and amazing ride by Pavel Sivakov who managed to join the early breakaway and then went solo over the final climb, the reduced peleton arrived together in Gersheim. The Russian was caught with 600 meters to go and Frenchman Clement Betouigt-Suire won the sprint ahead of Jasper Philipsen and Matteo Sobrero.

Pavel Sivakov riding solo (photo:
Patrick Haller finished safely in the bunch and celebrated his first win in stage race at this level.

Clement Betouigt-Suire wins the sprint with a solid gap (photo:


Final GC

Patrick Haller rode pretty well in all three Nations Cup events he entered this year but his results were nothing close to the big win the scored this weekend. Being the part of crucial moves on the first and third stage and very good performance time trial was enough but the effort young German put to defend his lead and stays in the decisive attacks was for sure a big one.

Clement Betouigt-Suire won his second stage in Nations Cup event this year and he has beaten Jasper Philipsen again. Two youth riders also fought for the victory in Ster van Zuid Limburg sprint stage earlier this year and guess what, Suire also won. The exciting sprint battle between those two youngsters should keep on going for the rest of the season and another one as both of them were born in 1998. Two future sprint stars in making ? Quite possible.

Niklas Larsen wasn't as good as I expected in Course de la Paix but his time trial win against Costa on second stage shows that young Dane is back to his best and we can expect much more from him in the upcoming races. He was one of the most consistent riders last year being top10 in each of three Nations Cup races last season.

Pavel Sivakov might not score any big results this weekend but he's clearly getting better after injury that kept him out of contention for a while. His impressive attacks on last two stages are sparks of great form that is clearly coming. One of the biggest prospects in junior category for now will clearly win a big race sooner or later this year.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Stefan Bissegger from Switzerland won the final stage of 47th Tour du Pays de Vaud after a sprint from selected group. Dutch rider Nils Eckhoff was second and Allessandro Covi from Italy finished third.

Race podium: Gino Mader 2nd, Adrien Costa 1st, Anthon Charmig 3rd (photo: swisscycling)


Stefan Bissegger sprints to victory on stage 3 (photo: swisscycling)

Adrien Costa finished safely in the front group and sealed the overall win. Both Gino Mader and Anthon Charmig also finished in the front group and kept their places on podium. Charmig also won the white jersey for the best young rider while Frenchman Mathieu Burgaudeau won the polka dot jersey for the best climber

Winner of mountains competition, Mathie Burgeudau (photo:

Final GC

It wasn't a big surprise that Costa defended his title from last year. As the strongest climber in junior category the route was perfect for him. American team was very strong as always in Swiss race and managed to control the race from the first stage till the end. Adrien was safely brought to the feet of crucial climbs on the first and third stage and managed to finish it of perfectly. As one of the best time trialists in junior peleton, the time trial win in Champery was just a confirmation of his potential. I'm starting to believe we have a new cycling star in making, not only in youth categories but in general.

Adrien Costa in yellow jersey (photo: Usa cycling juniors)

Tour du Pays de Vaud was clearly one of the big goals for Gino Mader and he can be more then happy about his performances. Two stage wins and podium in GC just behind Costa is a great result.

Gino Mader wins the first stage in yellow jersey (photo:

After Course de la Paix I thought that Charmig is not strong enough (yet) to compete on the highest level in juniors. I was so wrong. His amazing results in both Trophée Centre Morbihan and Tour du Pays de Vaud proves he's pure talent. Also, he looks like, let's say, not so matured physically, like some of his teammates, which sometimes is a good sign at his age. I strongly believe he's one of the brightest prospects from Denmark (which of course has tons of them and some really struggle to find their path in u23 and elite). 

I was cheering for "Ricky" Verza before the race and I can be happy that he confirmed his level. Usually he can only compete against other Italians in local races, which is not the perfect way to develop, so I was afraid that he won't fit the the level of top juniors but he was more then good. As a pure climber this was a great race for him and while he wasn't able to beat Costa on climbs or reach top3 in GC because of weaker time trial, he can be proud after his first serious race in Nations Cup.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Adrien Costa from US national team won both Saturday's stages in Tour du Pays de Vaud 2015 and extended his lead in overall classification.

Queen stage podium: Charmig, Costa, Belvins (photo: Team Kel-Berg Roskilde)

The morning stage was a queen one with over 15 kilometers climb to Champery in final kilometers. American team managed to keep the race together before they hit the final climb. Costa and his team mate, Chris Blevins where one of the first to attack right from the bottom. Costa was climbing impressive, just like he did last year on similar stage, and won with over a minute gap on Anthon Charmig and Chris Blevins. Gino Mader finished seventh, with the same time as Blevins but lost the jersey.


In the afternoon riders faced crucial time trial in Champery which was 10,3km long with over 1300 meters of climbing in total. Adrien Costa proved to be the strongest rider in the race, winning the stage again with decent gap over Swiss Gino Mader and Anthon Charmig.

Time trial podium: Mader, Costa, Charmig (photo: Swisscycling)


GC after stage 2B:

Tommorow the final stage from Pompaples to St.Prex (112km) awaits with two big climbs in the middle part. Either the US team will try to split the group again or we can see a breakaway going for the stage win. Either way, Adrien Costa will win the race.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Swiss rider Gino Mäder won the opening short prologue in Lucens (2.6k) and took the first leaders jersey in Tour du Pays de Vaud. Second place went to his team mate, Reto Muller who also took the young rider jersey and third to Moroccan Mehdi El Chokri.

Reto Muller and Gino Mader after the first stage (photo: swisscycling)

Today juniors faced first road stage from Onnens to Tartegnin which was 110 kilometers long with three categorized climbs. Despite many attacks US team managed to bring the race together to the feet of the final climb, Côte du Bugnaux. Riccardo Verza was the first one who attacked but he was later joined by Costa and race leader Mäder. The trio gained pretty big gap over the climb and managed to keep it untill the end of the stage. Gino Mäder was the fastest and took his second stage win in the race.

Gino Mäder crossing the line in yellow jersey (photo: swisscycling)
Podium: Verza, Mader, Costa (photo: swisscycling)


Tomorrow will be the crucial day with two difficult stages in Champéry: morning time trial and road stage with mountaintop finish later on. The leading trio of today's stage seems to be the strongest riders of the race but still everything is possible. Mader can challange Costa in time trial while Verza might be able to fight with the American on climbs. Exciting day ahead of us!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

May is quite a busy month for a juniors. After exciting stage races in the Netherlands and France last week riders will now head to Switzerland for Tour du Pays de Vaud, the most mountainous uci rated stage race in under 19 category.

Adrien Costa in yellow jersey (photo:

Swiss race has become the part of Uci Nations Cup for the first time this year so we gonna have nations teams from most of the top cycling countries at the start in Lucens. Total number of 21 teams has been invited.

The previous winners list includes names like Cancellara, Elmiger, Stannard and Moreno Moser. Last three editions were dominated by US riders. Taylor Eisenhart, Geoffrey Curran and Adrien Costa won last three editions. Especially 2014 edition was great for US team as they have put four riders in top five and won three stages.

Costa winning the queen stage (photo:

Four day event will start with short, technical prologue in Lucens on Thursday evening which is 2,6km long.

On the second day riders will face first road stage from Onnens to Tartegnin which is 110,4 km long and contains three categorized climbs. The hardest one is 4,3km long with avg. gradient above 7%. The top of the climb, near Châtel, is just 18km from the finish line and will be the crucial point of the first stage.

Saturday will be decisive for the whole race with two important stages: morning road stage with mountaintop finish in Champéry and difficult time trial later on.

The morning stage to  Champéry is not very long, just 77 kilometers but riders will face a 16km climb at the end of the stage. The average is less then 4% but with false flat and downhill sections it's a monster climb if you consider that we are talking about junior racing here. Last year, similar climb to Les Diablerets caused some big gaps with Adrien Costa putting amazing performance to win solo with over 1:30 gap.

The time trial in Champéry is 10,2 km long and it's up and down almost all the time with a short flat part after the first decent. The whole time trial will be ridden on high altitude. Expect some big gaps here.

Final stage perfectly shows that the race gets much harder this year if we compare it with previous editions. Last year, we had pretty hard stage with short but steep climbs in the middle part and flat kilometers at the end which caused reduced bunch sprint won by Patrick Muller.

This time riders will face two difficult, long climbs in the middle part of the stage from Pompaples to Saint Prex. The first one is over 13 km long and second one is 7km long. From the top it's pretty much downhill and flat all the way but amount of climbing in the first part of the stage may cause a big gaps and small groups should arrive together in Saint Prex.


The obvious favorite is again Adrien Costa. American rider has won last year edition with big gap over Kevin Geniets and William Barta. With hard climbs and long difficult time trial it will be very hard to beat Costa on this route. Especially with strong team behind the young rider from USA.

Kevin Geniets from Luxembourg, last year runner-up, is back and looks to improve his postion in GC. Despite the course which didn't really suit him, Kevin finished Trophée Centre Morbihan last week 17th overall and should be in good shape in Switzerland.

Gino Mader is a local favorite. He was nineth last year and I'm pretty sure he will be able to improve his position. Last week he finished 15th in Axel and was second in time trial, just behind Brandon McNulty.

Danish team always has to be considered as a favorites in junior races. Both Anthon Charmig and Mikkel Honore showed great shape last week in Trophée Centre Morbihan finishing first and third in GC but I guess the course might be a little bit too hard for them. My personal pick from Danish team is Rasmus Lund Pedersen, stage winner of Course de la Paix earlier this month.

Tobias Foss is a very solid rider who usually performs well in every type of terrain. He was fourth in Course de la Paix and sixth in Trophée Centre Morbihan. More then enough to consider him as one of the top favorites for podium.

Lastly, my personal favorite is Riccardo Verza. Small Italian climber had a very good results in local scene and won Piccola San Remo this year, one of the two uci rated races he rode. The second one was the longest named race in cycling, Tf GD Dorigo MO Biemmereti MO Cristiano Floriani MO Ferramenta Mazzero, where he finished third from a small group sprint. The route should suit him very well and I'm very curious how far he can go against some of the big names in junior category.

Other names to watch: Reto Muller, Tanguy Turgis, Mathieu Burgaudeau, Vadim Pronskiy, Jakub Otruba, Ziga Jerman.

Race website