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.

1 comment :

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