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.