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.

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