Thursday, July 24, 2014

Know your DS: Olivano Locatelli

There were few riders in recent memory that were more highly prized than Ukranian Yaroslav Popovych. It is kind of hard to wrap my head around how dominant Popovych was during his final U23 years when he won an astonishing 35 races in two year with the Zoccorinese-Vellutex. The high mountains? He won the Giro della Valle d'Aosta twice in a row. The classics? He won the Paris-Roubaix Espoirs in 2001 in a massive solo breakaway. He was the U23 World RR Champion in 2001 in Lisbon after coming 2nd the year before in Pluoay. He won countless races and was head and shoulders above his competition. This wasn't taking advantage of easy fields. This was annihilation that is not seen very often.

There were some reasons for his dominance. His team was incredibly strong his riders such as Volodymr Bileka, Lorenzo Bernucci, Giampaolo Garuso and Domenico Pozzovivo, among others. Okay, I'm really beating around the bush here. A big part of his success was his preparation. By preparation, you should know what I'm referring to. Popovych was trained by Olivano Locatelli, a somewhat obsessive and very detailed director from Bergamo who wanted to win at all costs. At least one article has referred to him as "The Boss" because of his demanding, dictatorial nature with his riders but while his past actions, which we will be getting to, are unforgivable, he is a master tactician; obsessing over details just mere kilometers into a race.

As a rider, Locatelli wasn't by any means amazing. Just a decent amateur rider but his skills of reading a race and training riders were what made him one of the best directors in all of Italy. His favorite race of all is the Giro della Valle d'Aosta. He has been present for 35 Giri della Valle d'Aosta across the last 4 decades and has produced 9 winners during that time including the likes of Yaroslav Popovych (x2), Ivan Gotti (x2), Alessandro Bisolti, Wladimir Belli and most recently Fabio Aru, who won the race overall in 2011 and 2012. Other riders under Locatelli's coaching include Tomas Vaitkus, Giovanni Lombardi, Fabio Casartelli and ex-U23 World Champion Leonardo Giordani.  Just read this article from 2002 about Locatelli and mostly about "Locatelli's Boys" that included Frigo, Savoldelli, Guerini, Mazzoleni. Basically a lineup of some of the most successful Italian racers of the late 90s and 00s but behind all of this success is a very present and obvious dark side.

After grooming Popovych for 2 years with Zoccorinese-Vellutex, Locatelli moved with the Ukranian talent to Landbouwkrediet along with Volodymyr Bileka, Yuri Metlushenko, Lorenzo Bernucci, Claudio Lucchini, Sergey Avdyeyev and Santo Anza. Basically, Locatelli was able to come to an agreement with Landbouwkrediet to bring on the majority of the team and because of his Italian ties, they would get a Giro invite and such. There were definitely two sides to the team though with the Belgians (mostly) sticking to the northern countries and Locatelli's Italian crew getting the bigger invites and most of the Giro spots. Locatelli still split time between the pro team and his amateur team, which switched names to Palazzago.

During the era when these riders were coming up with Locatelli, it was the dirtiest of the dirty times. More or less, doping was common place in the U23 peloton but it wasn't an accepted fact. Case in point, Volodymyr Bileka. According to the affidavit Bileka provided during the whole truth and reconciliation process, Bileka wasn't privy to any doping until he was on Landbouwkrediet and didn't make any attempts to try and dope until later on Discovery. Obviously, Bileka's case is anecdotal but it does shed a bit of light onto the situation. Bileka and Popo came from the same Ukranian village and while growing up and until the came to Italy, Bileka was always the stronger of the two. Popo started to make big gains and then when joining Vellutex with Locatelli, those gains kept coming because of EPO and other drugs.

Locatelli was the DS for Landbouwkrediet at both the 2002 and 2003 Giro when Popovych's star really began to shine. In his first grand tour at the ripe age of 22, Popovych went 12th overall. In 2003, he was blowing the doors off of people. Popo went 5th in Coppi e Bartali and 7th in Romandie before starting his 2nd Giro in as many years. Popovych was just incredible in the Giro. Only 3 times was he outside the top 25 on any stage and he clocked 8 top-10's on the way to a 3rd place overall behind superman Simoni and just 5 seconds behind Garzelli.

Just days after the Giro ended, Locatelli was arrested along with another DS for charged with supplying doping products to athletes. He was recorded on some wiretaps talking about how to circumvent doping controls  Locatelli resigned from Landbouwkrediet with immediate effect while rider Santo Anza and former rider Domenico Romano were also snared in the investigation. So you would think that a disgraced director that was essentially caught red-handed would be banned from being around developing riders and not be able to involved with cycling, right? Uhh..well...I mean, it was the 2000s after all and just you know...fucked up times.

Within a year, Locatelli was back with U.C. Palazzago and directing riders. Locatelli's demanding style and nearly psychotic drive for success might have been the downfall for many of his riders. Once Popovych left his training, the Ukranian was never able to hit the heights that he achieved as a U23 or an early pro. Yeah, doping had something to do with it but Popovych went on to work with Ferrari and never lived up to his promise. Popovych wasn't the only one that Locatelli pretty much wrecked. Denys Kostyuk? He was the top rated U23 in 2003 when riding for Locatelli's team. And look where he is now. Riding with Kolss in a bunch of shitty races. I could list many more burnouts. Branislau Samoilau left the team in 2005 to ride with the Belarus National Team...I mean, how bad must Locatelli have been to go back to riding with your national team, which is also a brutal dictatorship. Luigi Sestili? He was one of the best U23s in 2004 and 2005. After he went pro? *Crickets*. These riders got off relatively lucky as there was a story of an ex-Locatelli rider that was basically doped to the gills in the 90s and have multiple heart attacks before being ending his career.

In more recent years, Locatelli has softened a bit and some of his riders have been able to transfer their talents much more successfully into the pro ranks instead of just being burnout shells of their former selves. Locatelli has nurtured Stefano Pirazzi, Fabio Aru and Diego Rosa through the U23 ranks. In the case of the latter two, Locatelli went and found them and trained them into some damn fine racers. Locatelli found Aru at a 'cross race while Rosa was a MTB racer that transitioned to the road.

Currently, Locatelli is still the director at Palazzago, now known as Pala Fenice this year. He was just recently at his 35th Giro della Valle d'Aosta but he wasn't leading the team to get his 10th overall victory. While not being in contention for the overall win, Locatelli was able to find some solace. Marco Chianese won the sprints classification while Simone Ravanelli won the first year U23 classification. Besides Valle d'Aosta, Pala Fenice has both of the Sterbini brothers, who are bound for Bardiani, as well as Marlen Zmorka, yet another Ukranian under Locatelli's tutelege who has been one of the strongest time trialists in the U23 ranks.

Locatelli is now in his 60s and the riders that he brought up in the 90s and early 00s are now retiring and some are getting into the director cars themselves. The cycle continues. Locatelli never had to serve any time for doping his riders and allowing them to avoid doping controls. Many of his riders have been doped for doping or been caught up in huge investigation yet Locatelli got off scot free. Even in the early 2000's, Locatelli was "applauding" the anti-doping effort but this was director double-speak that wiretaps and anyone involved with him would have known.

We sit here and applaud the U23 ranks being the clean generation yet the next time you look at a startlist, take a look at the name of the DS. Some are a fresh of breath air while others are just the same bullshit that got us into the doping situation in the first place.

Olivano Locatelli

Location: Bergamo
Teams: Vellutex/Palazzago/Pala Fenice (amateur)
Mercanto Uno, Saeco and Landbouwkrediet (former pro teams)

Riders: Yaroslav Popovych, Lorenzo Bernucci, Domenico Pozzovivo, Stefano Pirazzi, Tomas Vaitkus, Giampaolo Caruso, Volodymyr Bileka, Wladimir Belli, Ivan Gotti, Fabio Aru, Diego Rosa, Fabio Casartelli, Leonardo Giordani, Paolo Savoldelli, Giovanni Lombardi, Giuseppe Guerini, Alberto Elli, Toto Commesso, Stefano Zanini, Alessandro Bisolti, Branislau Samoilau, Alberto Loddo

Pros: Training methods; methodical nature; tactical nuance

Cons: Pushing riders so hard that they are shells by the time they turn pros; history of doping riders and helping them evade testing; no remorse for prior actions

Monday, July 21, 2014

Giro della Valle d'Aosta Wrap Up

While the racing has finally settled in the Western Alps of Europe, it is time to do a little bit of reminiscing as well as some analysis.
-Bernardo Suaza was the first Colombian to win the Giro della Valle d'Aosta overall since Alex Cano won the race in 2007 and is just the 2nd to win the race overall. Suaza is still a bit of an unknown quantity to me because of his lack of experience but is obviously capable in the mountains and while Colombia will be absent from l'Avenir thanks to some stupid administrative squabbling, Suaza should be active at some late season stage races.

Speaking of his team, 4-72 Colombia was very strong throughout the race. Diego Ochoa won the prologue and they put 3 in the top 10. While Ochoa couldn't hang on during the first stage, Suaza took up the slack and defined his leader role. Juan Felipe Osorio also rode well for a first year. This race was essentially their l'Avenir this year and while not all of the big names were here, they did what they set out to do. Win. Now if team manager Saldariagga would patch up relations with the Colombian Cycling Feds, then we could see them back in l'Avenir where they deserve to be.

-Odd Eiking really showed his true colors as a scalatore here after finishing 2nd overall and being near the front on every uphill finish. The lanky Norwegian looked very strong throughout the week and lost time to Suaza in the time trials and the opening stage but Eiking is an aggressive racer. I like (smart) aggression in racing. Also, Eiking is young at just 19 years old and I'm curious to see what kind of interest he is getting from the pro ranks.

-Colpack was impressive for most of the week but they were on the ropes on the final road stage. The trio of Manuel Senni, Edward Ravasi and Giulio Ciccone put on a great display on the first two road stages where Senni won the first two stages and Ciccone was raking in the KOM points. This isn't even mentioning Iuri Filosi and Davide Martinelli, both of whom were putting themselves into multiple escape moves. It seems like they had put in a bit too much energy on those stages and were caught out on the final road stage to Les Esserts. Senni was in yellow and got dropped by both Eiking and Suaza while his teammates didn't fair any better. If they were that strong the first couple of stages then the whole race could have been planned differently.

-A new name for me this past week was Paolo Bianchini. The Delio Gallina rider was riding with the front group on the biggest mountain stages and while he seemed to lose some steam on the final two stages, he was fighting it out with the big riders.

-Silvio Herklotz had a fairly anonymous race. The German wunderkind was fairly silent for the early part of the race but started to come around towards the end. He finished 9th on the last road stages with the remnants of the lead group and then went 6th in the ending uphill time trial.

-Oskar Svendsen...not too shabby. I'll go with a thumbs up. Okay he wasn't spectacular but he showed some glints of that mega-talent we all expected.

-Etixx was one of my bigger disappointments of the week. Besides Alexis Guerin's breakaway on stage 3 (he didn't win), the "Czech" team was fairly anonymous.

-Daniel Pearson looks like an interesting prospect. Pearson rides for the Zappi's Team, which is a full British roster that races almost exclusively in Italy. Pearson won the British Junior RR Championship in 2011 ahead of the likes of Jon Dibben and Owain Doull as just a first year junior. Racing for Zappi's, he has had some successful results this year in hillier races. He was 2nd in the Coppa della Pace and 9th overall in Peaches and Nectarines. He was never spectacular but he was always hanging around the leading group and his consistency paid off with an 8th overall.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Valle d'Aosta: Suaza secures overall victory in Morillon

In just his first year racing internationally, Bernardo Suaza (4-72 Colombia) has adapted beautifully to racing against international fields. Suaza's lithe stature is at home in the mountainous regions of the bike racing world but he is a pretty solid all-around rider, especially for a Colombian climber.

Suaza took the leader's jersey after stage 1 after finishing in the lead group with a trio of Colpack riders but lost in on stage 2 when Manuel Senni went on a daring attack on Les Marecottes to take over the lead. While a breakaway ruled the day yesterday in terms of the stage victory, Suaza struck on Senni to take back the leader's jersey. While Dylan Teuns (BMC Development) took the stage win after a brilliant solo attack, Suaza came in with Norwegian Odd Christian Eiking 15 seconds ahead of Senni. Suaza was able take back yellow while Senni was back into 2nd place with Eiking in 3rd.

The decider was going to be the final stage, which was this morning's time trial in Morillon, Savoie, France. While just a little over 5 kilometers in length, the course was straight uphill to the Morillon hamlet of Les Esserts and would be deciding the overall winner for the race.

Rain was on tap for the uphill test but after nearly a whole week of burning legs, the rain probably felt nice on the skin. I find myself lacking when it comes to writing about time trials. I've ridden a few. They hurt like hell and I felt like all of my muscles were slowly roasting while my lungs were burning to keep up the pace. Adding that this is an uphill course, I'm sure everyone was suffering properly.

Simone Andreetta was originally the quickest rider on the day but there was a good reason for that, which the judges found out just after the finish. Andreetta, at some point, cut the course and while he had won by 20 seconds it was obviously by cheating, whether intentional or not. Andreetta was DQed and now shows as a DNF for the race, which is a shame.

Ildar Arslanov is turning out to be a bit of a uphill time trial specialist. The Russian clocked a time of 13'57", which was just over a blazing 23 km/h. The Russian, at least to me, was a bit disappointing here. He had shown such promise at the Ronde de l'Isard, where he was 5th on the 1st stage, but had to caddy for his leader Alexander Foliforov, who had bit the dust the next day in the sleeting rain to Bagneres de Luchon. This certainly makes up for the rest of his race here and hopefully he can string a few more good races together this year.

In 2nd, Oskar Svendsen came in 6 seconds down on Arslanov. Svendsen has had an okay race. The first two mountains days, he was back in the pack a bit but he came out for 14th on stage 3, which was right behind Manuel Senni, the overall leader. Svendsen is a major work in progress. Obviously his engine is huge but when he doesn't have good pack skills and is pretty inexperienced. It would be like having a 600 horsepower Mercedes yet you have to stay in 3rd gear and always seem to be stuck in traffic. So getting 2nd here...a good sign.

Our leader Bernardo Suaza, who was top 10 in the opening uphill prologue, was able to slot into 3rd place just 9 seconds behind Arslanov. There is no better way to win the GC than winning at the front and Suaza extended his lead on 2nd place. Speaking of 2nd overall, Manuel Senni put in a good time trial by his standards for 13th place but Odd Eiking, sitting in 3rd, blew him out of the water by 26 seconds, dropping the Italian to 3rd overall.

Stage Results (Full Results)
  1. Ildar Arslanov (Russia)
  2. Oksar Svendsen (Norway) +6"
  3. Bernardo Suaza (4-72 Colombia) +9"
  4. Odd Eiking (Norway) +19"
  5. Giulio Ciccone (Colpack) +21"
  6. Silvio Herklotz (Stolting) +29"
  7. Felix Grossschartner (Gourmetfein-Simplon) +32"
  8. Bram Van Broekhoven (VL Technics) +39"
  9. Juan Felipe Osorio (4-72 Colombia) s.t.
  10. Edward Ravasi (Colpack) +42"
Final Overall Results (Full Results)
  1. Suaza
  2. Eiking +33"
  3. Manuel Senni (Colpack) +46"
  4. Ravasi +1'15"
  5. Sindre Lunke (Norway) +1'41"
  6. Ciccone +2'29"
  7. Paolo Bianchini (Delio Gallina) +2'31"
  8. Daniel Pearson (Zappi's) +4'05"
  9. Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Astana CT) +4'34"
  10. Floris De Tier (EFC-OPQS) s.t.
KOM: Giulio Ciccone (Colpack)
Points: Manuel Senni (Colpack)
Sprints: Marco Chianese (Pala Fenice)
Youth (1st year): Simone Ravanelli (Pala Fenice)
Team: Colpack

Stayed tuned for another wrap-up post on the Giro della Valle d'Aosta with some more thoughts on the race within the next day or so.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Valle d'Aosta: Senni soars to 2nd stage win; takes overall lead

Coming into today's stage in the Pennine Alps in the Valais region of Switzerland, Team Colpack was in the driver's seat. They won stage 1 with Manuel Senni while putting 3 out of 5 in the front group and taking 2nd-4th place overall on the GC with Giulio Ciccone, Edward Ravasi and Senni. To make it even better, Ciccone had a grasp on the KOM classification. So while Bernardo Suaza had the overall lead, he was going to have an uphill fight with the Italians.

The first half of the stage was mainly flat with a couple of small kickers to keep everyone honest. Multiple attacks were launched during the flat section to try and get an advantage before the three big climbs in the last half of the stage but none were really successful. Marco Chianese, the intermediate sprints leader, broke away to take the first sprint while Davide Martinelli, 2nd in the classification, won the 2nd sprint with Chianese in 3rd.

Once the town hit the hamlet of Saxon, Simone Andreetta (Zalf-Euromobil) took off at the foot of the Col du Lein and was the carrot for a group of chasers all the way up the climb. Felix Grossschartner (Gourmetfein-Simplon) was solo behind Andreetta while a group including Alexey Vermeulen (BMC Development), Giulio Ciccone (Colpack), Patrick Bosman (Tirol) and Alexis Guerin (Etixx). Andreetta led the group over the Col du Lein and even through the descent, he kept a gap on the groups behind him.

On the Col des Planches, things got interesting. While Andreetta plowed on ahead, the chasing group behind him was morphing. Thanks to attacking the descent and the bottom part of the climb, overall leader Bernardo Suaza and Manuel Senni bridged to the chasing group, proceeded to bust through it. Senni and Suaza brought with them Ciccone and Bosman. As the riders went off the descent and through Martigny, Manuel Senni bridged up to Andreetta just before the final summit finish to Les Marecottes.

Senni and Andreetta arrived on the final climb together and were working together but Andreetta was going to learn that there are no fucking gifts. With 8 kilometers to go, the kilometers caught up with Andreetta and Senni began to accelerate and he distanced the Zalf-Euromobil rider. Thanks to the chase losing some impetus, Senni's gap back to the fairly large chasing group was 1'45" with 5 kilometers to go. The chasers had really messed around but Senni's leg were burning and the gap began to tumble.

Bernardo Suaza (4-72 Colombia) was suffering like a dog on a hot day. He saw Senni ride away from him on the climb previous and now he was making up for his mistake. Suaza was in the chasing group with the Norwegian duo of Odd Eiking and Sindre Lunke, Patrick Bosman, Paolo Bianchini, Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev and Edward Ravasi. Manuel Senni was riding away with the lead but the gap was falling rapidly and Suaza was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. While Senni topped out over the KOM point with 50 seconds, there was still a kilometer left and while he was pedalling squares, the chase was speeding up.
Senni was able to hold on to take his 2nd stage win in a row while Odd Eiking led in the furious chase at 20 seconds back with Bosman and Lunke in 3rd and 4th. Suaza fell off in the last kilometer and rode in 33 seconds down. His 28 second lead on Senni became a 5 second deficit heading into the final 2 stages. While he lost the yellow jersey, Suaza could have been a lot worse off and is around to fight another day.

Once again, Colpack was putting on a clinic and now they have 2 stages wins thanks to Senni, the overall lead (Senni), the KOM jersey (Ciccone), the points jersey (Senni) and the lead in the team's classification.While Senni has been brilliant so far, he is by no means in the clear. Suaza is just 5 seconds back while Eiking is just 30 seconds back. Ravasi, Bianchini and Lunke are all within one minute of the lead so with a "transitional" stage and an uphill time trial, no one is in the clear.

Stage (Full Results)
  1. Manuel Senni (Colpack)
  2. Odd Eiking (Norway) +20"
  3. Patrick Bosman (Tirol) +21"
  4. Sindre Lunke (Norway) s.t.
  5. Paolo Bianchini (Delio Gallina) +26"
  6. Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Astana Continental) +30"
  7. Bernardo Suaza (4-72 Colombia) +33"
  8. Edward Ravasi (Colpack) +41"
  9. Tilegen Maidos (Astana Continental) +1'12"
  10. Matvey Mamikin (Russia) +1'38"
Overall (Full Results)
  1. Senni
  2. Suaza +5"
  3. Eiking +30"
  4. Ravasi +37"
  5. Bianchini +42"
  6. Lunke +57"
  7. Giulio Ciccone (Colpack) +2'00"
  8. Mamikin +2'13"
  9. Daniel Peason (Zappi's) +2'49"
  10. Maidos +3'07"

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Valle d'Aosta: Colpack dominates; 4-72 Colombia holds onto yellow

While there is only one road stage in the Aosta Valley during this year's Giro della Valle d'Aosta, it turned out to be a cracker of a stage. Favorites went down while others made themselves known. Even though the race only had a live ticker through a separate website, I was on the edge of my seat with the racing. I know there is no infrastructure to broadcast U23 races at this time but damnit, this is one of the races that deserves more coverage.

The race took off with 123 riders this morning with only 1 DNS, Xandro Meurisse of Lotto-Belisol U23, who broke his wrist in a crash in the prologue. Meurisse will heal up and hopefully be back for his stagiaire spot with Lotto-Belisol. A group of 23 got away early in the stage and included such names as TJ Eisenhart (BMC Development), Maxat Ayazbayev (Astana CT), Marlen Zmorka (Pala Fenice), Davide Martinelli (Colpack), Yuriy Vasyliv (Stölting) and many more. Nearly every team was represented and the gap on the breakaway got a gap of nearly 6 minutes on the mainly flat area of the course.

With 70 kilometers to go, the gap began to tumble as a 6 minute gap became a 4 minute gap and in the run up to the Col de St. Pantaleon, the gap was just 1'20" as the peloton, led by the Norwegian National Team, was getting ready to attack the two big climbs on the day. Luca Chirico (Mg.Kvis-Trevigiani) went out solo once the breakaway hit the St. Pantaleon climb with Eisenhart, Martinelli and Brecht Ruyters (Lotto-Belisol) chasing ahead of the peloton. Halfway up the climb, Chirico was brought back into the fold and a leading group of 25 was carved out. Giulio Ciccone (Colpack) led the leading group over the top of the St. Pantaleon climb, taking full GPM points ahead of Bernardo Suaza  (4-72 Colombia) and Tilegen Maidos (Astana CT).

On the descent off of the Col de St. Pantaleon, Iuri Filosi (Colpack) said toodaloo mothafuckas and went solo on the descent into Antey-Saint Andre. From there, it was straight up for the next 18 kilometers, while the final climb proper didn't technically start until the race hit Valtournenche. Filosi was the leader on the rode while being chased solo by Tilegen Maidos, roughly 40 seconds behind, with the remnants of the front group chasing behind him. Filosi, the winner of the Peaches and Nectarines overall and 2nd in last weekend's European U23 RR Championship, was going for broke but the move was in vein. First, the peloton picked up Maidos with 3.5 kilometers to go while Filosi lasted until 3 kilometers to go.

The lead group, which was 17 with 4 kilometers to go, detonated once the catch was made with a group of 5 splitting off the front including Manuel Senni, Giulio Ciccone, Edward Ravasi (all Colpack), Bernardo Suaza (4-72 Colombia) and Matvey Mamikin (Russian National). Over the GPM points, Ciccone led the group over to sew up the mountains jersey while the group set it up for an uphill sprint. In the sprint, Manuel Senni beat out teammate Ciccone ahead of Mamikin and Suaza. 23 seconds in arrears, Floris De Tier (EFC-OPQS) led the remnants of the leading group including Sindre Lunke (Norway), Bram Van Broekhoven (VL Technics), Odd Eiking (Norway) and Daniel Pearson (Zappi's). Race leader Diego Ochoa came in soon after at 1'28" behind the leaders.

While Ochoa lost the leader's jersey, 4-72 Colombia was able to hold onto the leader's jersey as Bernardo Suaza took over the yellow jersey ahead of a trio of Colpack riders.

Stage (Full Results)

  1. Manuel Senni (Colpack)
  2. Giulio Ciccone (Colpack)
  3. Matvey Mamikin (Russian National)
  4. Bernardo Suaza (4-72 Colombia)
  5. Edward Ravasi (Colpack) +3"
  6. Floris De Tier (EFC-OPQS) +23"
  7. Sindre Lunke (Norway National)
  8. Paolo Bianchini (Delio Gallina)
  9. Bram Van Broekhoven (VL Technics)
  10. Andrea Garosio (Zalf-Euromobil)
  1. Bernardo Suaza
  2. Ravasi +22"
  3. Ciccone +24"
  4. Senni +28"
  5. Odd Eiking (Norway National) +38"
  6. Bianchini +44"
  7. Van Broekhoven +50"
  8. Mamikin +1'03"
  9. Lunke +1'04"
  10. Daniel Pearson (Zappi's) +1'06"
Colpack is obviously in the driver's seat with 2 more road stages and an uphill time trial. Suaza has proved his proficiency in the mountains with his ride in the Ronde de l'Isard, where he was 5th overall. Eiking and Lunke will be a two-headed threat for the Norwegian National team. Van Broekhoven was 2nd overall in the Course de la Paix (Peace Race) earlier this year and arguably one of the best climbers in the race. Mamikin is an unknown quantity to me as he was not the favorite compared to his teammates Foliforov and Arslanov. There are still 15 riders within 2 minutes of Suaza so the race is still wide open.

Some riders that weren't able to hold onto the front group today including TJ Eisenhart and Alexey Vermeulen (BMC Development), Silvio Herklotz (Stölting), Sam Spokes (Etixx), Oskar Svendsen (Norway), Simone Sterbini (Pala Fenice) and Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Astana CT). Some were in the early breakaway like Eisenhart while others weren't on top form but all of these riders are definite threats for stage wins even if they are out of the GC hunt.

Speaking of spectacular blow-ups, Alexander Foliforov, who I have mentioned previously having spectacular blow-ups, finished 27'16" down. Foliforov was listed as being with the front group with 30 kilometers to go. While that might have been mis-reported, that would have been pretty spectacular to go from the front to all the way to the back in 30 kilometers. Perhaps a crash or some other issue happened but it seems like Foliforov just can't keep his shit together for a stage race.

The race transfers to the Valais region of Switzerland for stage 2 and while just 120 kilometers, it has 5 categorized climbs with 3 category 1 climbs in the final 55 kilometers. It is going to be fun.

Giro della Valle d'Aosta: Ochoa storms to prologue win

The Giro della Valle d'Aosta, one of the premiere U23 stage races, kicked off on Wednesday in the heart of Italy's most remote region with a 5.1 kilometer time trial that while not the be all end all, it was certainly an important first test for the riders.

The course itself started from Arvier, the birthplace of Maurice Garin. For people that are unaware and more importantly didn't read my preview, Garin won the first Tour de France and while originally born in Italy, he moved to Northern France at a young age.The course had a small descent out of the gate before slightly rising for the remainder of the course to the hamlet of Valgrisenche.

The bar was set quite early. Elias Van Bruessegem (VL Technics) was the 7th rider out of the gate and he laid down a time of 9'28"98, which was a pretty good time because he ended up getting 14th overall when the day ended. Setting off just 4 minutes later was Diego Ochoa (4-72 Colombia). Ochoa proceeded to blow the doors off of everyone. There was still 111 riders still to set off after Ochoa but he proceeded to put down a time of 8'59"63. Everyone else would be trying to touch that time the rest of the day.

The next favorite to go off was Silvio Herklotz, who opted for an early start time. Herklotz, who is by no means a great time trialist, put in a time of 9'55", which would be good for 55th in the end. Italian U23 time trial champion Davide Martinelli would be one of the only ones to come anywhere near Ochoa. Decked out in his Italian stripes on a blacked-out Pinarello with a 12-spoke Lightweight front wheel, Martinelli rode in witha 9'05"16. I'm sure the future SKY stagiaire is a bit disappointed but it was a strong ride.

Ochoa's 4-72 teammate Juan Felipe Osorio and Bernardo Suaza both proceeded to put in top 10 rides to cap off a great day for the Colombian squad. Speaking of teammates putting in strong rides, Ildar Arslanov and Alexander Foliforov went 6th and 5th and went a long way to putting at least one of them in the top 5 at the end of the race.

The only rider to make Diego Ochoa truly sweat was TJ Eisenhart (BMC Development), who was in the last wave of riders with many of the GC favorites. Eisenhart, who was recently crowned the USA U23 TT Champion in Madison,Wisconsin on July 4th, laid it on on the course and with his 3T disc wheel whirring away, the Utah native clocked in a time of 9'00"73, just 01"10 off of Ochoa. While a little hard to come that close and lose, it does set him up beautifully for a GC run.

To those that read my preview for the race, I was lazily wondering if Oskar Svendsen could make a run at this race like he did the Tour de l'Avenir last year. Well he went 4th place in the prologue just 7 seconds behind Ochoa. So obviously he is on some decent form but the biggest test will be how he handles the peloton and if he is able to hang around until the end. Some other GC favorites that did well include Odd Eiking, Iuri Filosi and Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev, all of whom finished between 11th and 13th. Really no one did too bad because these mountains can see some large time gaps but a 25 second head start is definitely a boost for those in the top 10.
  1. Diego Ochoa (4-72 Colombia)
  2. TJ Eisenhart (BMC Development) +1"10
  3. Davide Martinelli (Colpack) +5"53
  4. Oskar Svendsen (Norwegian National) +6"79 
  5. Alexander Foliforov (Russian National) +7"20
  6. Ildar Arslanov (Russian National) +8"58
  7. Felix Großschartner (Gourmetfein-Simplon) +9"72
  8. Bernardo Suaza (4-72 Colombia) +17"36
  9. Juan Felipe Osorio (4-72 Colombia) +19"38
  10. João Marcelo Gaspar (World Cycling Centre) +25"59
Full Results

Gaspar is a new revelation to me. He was 3rd overall in the Tour of Brazil earlier this year and after that performance, he accepted a role at the UCI World Cycling Centre and in just a few short months in Aigle, Gaspar has managed to win two smaller French races.
 The race continues on Thursday with a 170 kilometer ride to the mountain-top finish at Breuil Cervinia, just outside of Valtournenche.
^^Seriously? The organizers need to decide what century that are in based on the wide range of dress on the podium. The two teenage looking podium girls are in jean shorts and then Ochoa is getting a small trophy (that looks like a mini-keg) from a woman that is in a period dress from roughly 1890. Gold.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cascade Cycling Classic Prologue

While Valle d'Aosta is going to be taking up the vast majority of my attention the next week, it wouldn't be smart of me to just ignore one of the biggest events on the USA Cycling calendar, at least in terms of stage races. The Cascade Cycling Classic is a fixture on the US calendar and every year, showcases the stunning high desert around Bend, Oregon. They bill it as the North America's longest running stage race, which is highly debatable but what can you do.

Getting off my Bend Tourism Board soapbox, the race always brings out the best professional and amateur talent across the country and in more recent years, teams like Bissell, Hincapie and BMC Development have brought some stacked teams here. Lots of U23 talent that isn't in Europe is here.

Tuesday kicked off the race with a 4km (2.5 mile) prologue in Bend. Sorry, I should be more official. Tuesday kicked off the race with the Worthy Brewing prologue, a scenic 2.5 mile course right off the beautiful Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway at the exclusive Tetherow Golf Resort. Now that I'm ready to throw up in my mouth, let's just talk about the race.

Tom Zirbel (Optum) laid down the early best time of 4'23"38"' that was to be the carrot for the rest of the field. Another strong early time came from U23 Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Development), who slotted into 3rd place at the time. Carpenter has been riding a strong wave of time trial rides and has been very proficient the last few months in the disciplines. The times kept creeping nearer towards Zirbel. National Elite TT Champion Tim Rugg (Marc Pro Strava) put down a 4'30". Travis McCabe (Smartstop) lowered it to 4'29". U23 Dion Smith (Hincapie Development) took it down by a few fractions of a second but nothing substantial.

The biggest challenge came by U23 Ruben Zepuntke (Bissell), who put down a time of 4'25"59"'. Really, Zirbel isn't the best domestic time trialist for nothing. Ignazio Moser (BMC Development), who has been fraught with motivation problems in the past, came close but could only manage 3rd on the night.

While Zirbel took the win and yellow into tomorrow, it was a great showing by the U23s in the peloton by putting 4 in the top 10 with best young rider Zepuntke, Moser, Smith and Carpenter. Hincapie Devo was by far the strongest team in the test by putting 6 out of their 8 riders into the top 20. Other U23s that got inside the top 40 (withing 14 seconds of Zirbel) include Bas Tietema (BMC Devo), Dan Eaton (Canyon Bicycles-Shimano), James Oram (Bissell), Ben Wolfe (Cal Giant), Logan Owen and Tao Geoghegan Hart (both Bissell).

A large forest fire has re-routed the 1st stage so they will be doing a couple of loops around Mount Bachelor, which they will be doing pretty much again later in the week. Throw in a time trial, criterium and a hard circuit race and there is going to be some tired legs by this Sunday.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dylan Teuns signs with BMC

On Tuesday, it was announced that Dylan Teuns (BMC Development) signed with BMC Racing on what I assume is a standard two-year neo-pro contract starting on January 1 of 2015. I say assume because BMC doesn't release any contract information. Teuns already had a stagiaire ride with BMC later this summer and as it turns out, he didn't even need to audition any further to get a spot.
For those unfamiliar with Teuns, he is a all-arounder with a focus on climbing and stage races. This year, he won the queen stage of the Tour de Bretagne and finished 2nd overall by just 4 seconds behind Bert-Jan Lindeman. Teuns proceeded to make the final breakaway in Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 (the pro version of the race is his "dream race") and finished 2nd in the final sprint to Anthony Turgis. Teuns latest big result was 2nd in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, where he was outsprint by breakaway mate Dimitri Claeys.

With BMC, he should be focusing on the Ardennes Classics as well as stage racing, seeing as he is an able climber. You will be seeing Teuns at the Giro Ciclistico della Valle d'Aosta this week, where he should be showing off his climbing talents.

Monday, July 14, 2014

European U23 RR: Küng does the double

The rolling course around Nyon, Switzerland wasn't too hard yet it wasn't destined to end in a big bunch sprint. It nearly did but thanks to a late attack by three riders, the big sprint wasn't going to unfold like some would have liked.

After a flurry of attacks, it was Thery Schir (Switzerland) and Ruben Guerreiro (Portugal) that finally made an attack stick on the Nyon course and they were soon joined by others including Loïc Chetout (France), Matthias Plarre (Germany), Alessandro Tonelli (Italy), Sven Erik Bystrøm (Norway), Kenneth Van Rooy (Belgium) and Samir Jabrayilov (Azerbaijan).

With 100 kilometers to go (out of 172), the gap was over 3 minutes and for about the next 50 kilometers, the race situation didn't change too much. Michael Schlegel (Czech Republic) attacked and really accelerated the chase from the peloton as the race went under 3 laps to go. Schlegel was about a minute behind the breakaway group but the peloton was keeping him in check, just 30 seconds behind the Czech.

With 2 laps to go, the gap was just 48 seconds and the breakaway was imploding. Chetout, Bystrøm and Van Rooy, who leads the U27 Topcompetitie in Belgium, were able to surge ahead. While Bystrøm was leading the race solo into the final lap, he was swallowed up by a small group including Stefan Küng (Switzerland), Tonelli, Dylan Teuns and Loïc Vliegen (Belgium) and others with the peloton following shortly behind.

Halfway through the last lap, it was Küng, who crashed earlier in the race, and Anthony Turgis (France), winner of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23, who launched an attack and immediately took some time. The duo dug deep and with 5 kilometers to go, they had a lead of 14 seconds. On the descent on the circuit, Iuri Filosi (Italy) was able to join the duo and the now-trio kept powering ahead. Coming into the final kilometer, the gap was only 8 seconds and dwindling fast. The breakaway was going to need to throw caution to the wind if they wanted this.

According to Küng, "With 500 meters to go, I looked back and saw the peloton was not far away. So I attacked on the right side and did not look back."
Küng put in an attack that neither Filosi or Turgis could answer and the Swiss Mister claimed his 2nd European U23 Championship of the weekend. The peloton was right on the heels of the breakaway and Thomas Boudat, who won the sprint for 4th, was given the same time as the breakaway so if one were to just look at the results, they might be a bit confusing. Boudat beat out Finn Matti Manninen and Belgian Tiesj Benoot, who said before the race that he wished the course was a bit harder and funnily enough, he mentioned Küng as a favorite.

  1. Stefan Küng (Switzerland) 172.8 km in 4'16"05"
  2. Iuri Filosi (Italy) all s.t.
  3. Anthony Turgis (France)
  4. Thomas Boudat (France)
  5. Matti Manninen (Finland)
  6. Tiesj Benoot (Belgium)
  7. Liam Bertazzo (Italy)
  8. Sondre Holst Enger (Norway)
  9. Tom Bohli (Switzerland)
  10. Silvio Herklotz (Germany)

Küng's talent is just BIG. Only way that I can properly describe it. He can win: world titles on the track, flatter stage races, one-day races with long attacks, one-day races with late attacks and of course, time trials. I wouldn't shed too many tears about Cancellara retiring because there might be his replacement in the pipeline.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Giro Ciclistico della Internazionale Valle d'Aosta-Les Savoie-Mont Blanc Preview

Could the name get much longer? That'll be the only time you will see the races full name on this website this year, at least during the race. It shall be henceforth known as the Giro della Valle d'Aosta or just Valle d'Aosta, even if that doesn't make sense for reasons that will be made clear soon.

It has been no secret that in some countries, funds for many public activities including cycling have been on the short side because of massive austerity measures and collapsing economies. Italy has seen the noose tighten with many races shuttering while others having to scale back. Among those scaling back has been the Giro della Valle d'Aosta, which at its height was 6 full road stages plus a time trial and was a showcase of the scenic mountains in Aosta, which lies in the northwest and is the smallest and least populated province of Italy. This year, the race is just 3 full road stages with a prologue and culminating in an uphill TT. Half of the race isn't even in Aosta as the French city of Chatel, which has been a popular race destination in recent years, will be the base for the final two stages. It has become so French that they even had to add Les Savoie to the name.

It would pretty pretentious for the race to launch a Kickstarter or what have you to try and fund the race so it can stay in Aosta but it is a shame that the race is having to go outside the region just to stay afloat, even when it is the only major Italian stage race for U23s left after the GiroBio and Toscana Terra di Ciclismo went to their untimely demises. In any case, let us take a look at the route and the (long) list of teams that will be toeing the line.


This stage race is also a stalwart of the U23 cycling calendar because of its longevity. The race is celebrating its 51st edition, nearly all of which have been consecutive. First raced in 1962, the race has a slew of big names in its illustrious palmares. The 2nd edition in 1963 was won by Gianni Motta, a poor boy from Lombardia who used the bike as an escape. The next year he was 5th in the Giro and won the Giro di Lombardia. 2 years later, he won the Giro out right. Ennio Vanotti, uncle of Astana's Alessandro, won it in 1977 and went on to win a Tour du Suisse stage and rode the Tour a bunch. Pierfranco Vianelli won the overall on the way to winning the Olympic Road Race in 1968.

The 90s signaled a step up in the races competition. Ivan Gotti won twice. Wladimir Belli. Gilberto Simoni. Yaroslav Popovych won twice during his reign of terror on the Italian U23 ranks where he seemingly could do no wrong. Popovych even beat Cunego mano-a-mano in 2001. A bunch of fucking dopers won a bunch including Marco Manzano winning twice in 2002 & 2003. Sella won 3 stages in 2003 while going 2nd overall. We can't forget about Nikita 'The Terminator" Novikov in more recent years.

Dan Martin won a couple stages here. Seeldraeyers climbed to glory here. Thibaut Pinot won the overall in 2009 in the same year Egor Silin, Dom Nerz, Alex Geniez and Kristjan Koren took stage wins. Fabio Aru won two consecutive overalls while Joe Dombrowski and Lachlan Morton took their gangly masses to stage wins.

Davide Villella dominated last year while his now-teammate Davide Formolo finished 2nd overall ahead of Clement Chevrier, new BCS Louis Vervaeke and Alexander Foliforov.



The prologue begins from Planaval, which is a small hamlet of the commune of Arvier, which is the birthplace of Maurice Garin, who later became French and won the first Tour de France. It is a short test at just 5.1 kilometers but it does gain over 100 meters in elevation, which comes mainly in the final half of the course.

Still waiting on final list of starters but this should still be one for the time trial specialists as the course isn't crazy steep.

Stage 1

The only actual road stage in the Aosta Valley is a pretty tough test that culminates in the shadow of the Matterhorn. The stage starts with a descent and for over the first 100 kilometers it is pretty flat; good territory for a breakaway. Then the race gets wicked. From the village of Chambave at 487 meters, the race goes upward for the next 16 kilometers on the Col St. Pantaleon, which averages a pretty stiff 7.2%. Luckily the climb is pretty steady with only a few points where it levels out so the riders that can settle into a rhythm will do fine. They descend 10 kilometers before hitting the last uphill, an 18 kilometer stretch to Breuil-Cervinia that gains 1000 meters in altitude and summits at 2004 meters, with a spectacular view of the Matterhorn. The climb has ramps in it to and will go from 3-4% up to 10% for a stretch and so on. It should be a fun least for those following the race.

Stage 2

Race goes into Switzerland to do a nice loop around the Rhône Valley. When I say valley, only the first half is flat as the race goes into the Swiss Alps to hit the Col du Lein, the Col des Planches before descending back into Martigny to tackle a summit finish at Les Marécottes. The race heads north up the valley towards Aigle but they hit the forcefield around the UCI and bounce back, heading south and then east towards Saillon. They take in two small climbs on the early "flat" portion that are both short but steep, averaging nearly 9% for a kilometer.

The climbs kick in with the the Col du Lein. The climb is nearly 13.5 kilometers and averaged roughly 8.8% (according to climbbybike) and for the most part it is steady while there is a ramp that averages 12% for over a kilometer. Legs sizzling and nearly medium rare. Just 2 more climbs now...

The Col des Planches will take those medium rare legs and turn them into medium well. Over 9 kilometers, the climb also averages 8.8% across 9 switchbacks. Descending back into Martigny, the race will culminate with a summit finish at Les Marécottes. The climb itself is nearly 9 kilometers and while not as steep as the other two climbs, its steepest ramps come at the end where it goes into double digits for a little bit.

A short albeit brutal stage.

Stage 3

The race heads from Suisse to Savoie, where the race will once again take in Châtel as a race city, which has been a popular spot for seemingly any UCI race that hits the area. Valle d'Aosta, l'Avenir, Pays de Savoie, Valle d'Aosta again all in the past year. The stage isn't necessarily hard in that the climbs are brutally tough but there are 5 climbs and while the final climb to Les Esserts is only 3 kilometers, it is a steep ramp that Davide Villella was able to secure his overall victory on last year.

The first of the climbs, the Col du Ranfolly, is the most difficult on the day with the 8+ kilometer road averaging 7.7% gradient. Following that, the race takes in 4 smaller climbs that will certainly thin the pack out but aren't too difficult themselves. The final ramp to Les Esserts will probably had a fairly large group but any favorites should be able to distance themselves from the pretenders.

This stage is a true transitional stage in that the overall leader will need to be attentive not to lose time or possibly take time but not waste too much because of the upcoming mountain TT, which should be the ultimate decider for the GC.

Stage 4

This is it. Ground Zero. This is where the race will be won or lost. This stage doesn't feel right to me. I feel like there needs to be another full road stage before we talk about this uphill TT. The course in itself if fairly straightforward as it goes from Morillon to Les Esserts (technically still Morillon), which is 5.4 kilometers and gaining 367 meters in altitude, which is an average gradient of 6.7%. So not crazy steep but nothing easy either. An explosive rider would benefit here because of the short distance while the climb could also allow a tank to roll a big gear.

The race website has all of the stages listed with an interactive map, altitude and time table for the stages. I give the race organizers an A on the website. Click here to check it out. They probably want more than just me as there traffic.


Italian teams include:
Team Friuli
Delio Gallina
General Store
GS Gavardo
Team Pala Fenice
Zappi's Racing

Foreign squad include:

4-72 Colombia (Colombia)
Astana Continental (Kazakhstan)
Gourmetfein-Simplon (Austria
Tirol (Austria)
Stolting (Germany)
Etixx (Czech Republic)
BMC Development (Switzerland)
Lotto-Belisol U23 (Belgium)
EFC-OPQS (Belgium)
VL Technics-Abutriek (Belgium)
Haute Savoie Region (France)
Valais Region (France)
Russia National
Norwegian National
UCI Cycling Centre

No startlists have been released at this time but if the favorites are invited the start list could look like Vervake, Filosi, Senni, Herklotz, Foliforov, Teuns, Muhlberger, Benoot, Suaza, Ochoa, Ciccone, etc. It isn't the course that makes the race but the riders so this race, while dissapointing in some ways in terms of the course, could be some of the best racing of the year.

Stefan Kung wins European U23 TT Championship

In some of the more unsurprising news that you will see today, Swiss Stefan Kung (BMC Development) won the European U23 TT Championship in his home country on a 26.9 kilometer course around Nyon, which is in the extreme southwest on the shores of Lake Geneva. Kung blasted around the course in 33'55", which was an average speed of over 47.5 km/h.

I'm nonplussed about the results because Kung should have won it. If he didn't win today, I would have been shocked. Kung has been on some rip-roaring form for over a month now and after coming 2nd to Fabian Cancellara at the Swiss Elite Men's TT Championship at nationals, Kung was ready to crush skulls in the U23 ranks.

Coming in 2nd to Kung was Italian Davide Martinelli, who finished 24 seconds behind the future BMC rider. Alexander Evtushenko was able to grab 3rd place for Russia after posting a time 46 seconds down on Kung.

For those that are curious, Oskar Svendsen finished back in 13th at 1'35" back. Svendsen, who put out one of the biggest Vo2Max scores ever recorded, has been one of the bigger anomylies over the past two years after winning the Junior World TT Championship in 2012. Svendsen is bad at riding in packs but when the stars align, like they did at the Tour de l'Avenir last year, he can do great things.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

TT-TJ Eisenhart wins USA U23 Nationals

I won't attempt to feign surprise to see that TJ Eisenhart won the USA U23 TT Championships in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday. On the day of our 238th anniversary of our divorce with Great Britain, Eisenhart went out like old times and smoked the time trial by 48 seconds on Hincapie Development's Robin Carpenter and 1'09" over Ben Wolfe of Cal Giant. Eisenhart was a TT stud when he was a junior (and went by Timo), where he won the time trial in the Tour de l'Abitibi and placed highly in Pays de Vaud and Trofeo Karlsberg TTs along with a 10th place in junior Worlds.

Last year, his TTing abilities came out in the Thüringen Rundfahrt, where he secured 6th overall after a 7th place in the TT. This year, the Lehi, Utah native hasn't raced many time trials but after winning the Utah State TT last weekend, Eisenhart put in a roaring time on the flat to rolling course. Eisenhart got a pretty good haul at Nationals so far with a 3rd place in the RR and a win in the TT. Robin Carpenter has also had a great Nationals with 4th in the RR and 2nd in the TT.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Back2Back: Putt takes 2nd straight USA U23 RR

Before today, I would have been willing to bet this whole blog that Bissell was going to win the National U23 RR in Wisconsin. Seriously. You think that a team that had a good majority of the best American U23 talent whose major bike sponsor, Trek, is minutes away from the race was going to lose? Fuck that. Especially when they had the defending champion in Tanner Putt. No offense to Hincapie Devo or Cal Giant or BMC Devo but Bissell had to win.

The early breakaway for the race included Justin Oien (Cal Giant), Geoffrey Curran (Bissell) and Dan Eaton (Canyon Bicycles-Shimano). The trio got over 5 minutes on the Blue Mounds course while the peloton was in no hurry to bring them back. Soon the gap began to trickle down as riders dripped off the back of the peloton like a leaky faucet.
Soon after this picture, Oien was dropped and it was Eaton and Curran fighting the good fight heading into the final lap of the Blue Mounds course. A counter-attack of 8 went off the front including Robin Carpenter (Hincapie), Logan Owen (Bissell), Alexey Vermeulen and TJ Eisenhart (BMC Devo), among others. The duo up front tried in vain to make it to the line but with less than 4 kilometers to go, Eaton and Curran were swallowed up and both finished anonymously.

Up front, it was Tanner Putt and young teammate Keegan Swirbul (Bissell) along with Eisenhart that made the final selection up front. While last year Putt and teammate Nate Brown attacked in tandem to the line last year, it was Putt who laid down the gauntlet this year in the finale. Eisenhart has nothing to respond with and Swirbul sat on his wheel while Putt danced off into the distance.
Putt was able to win the race solo while Swirbul attacked for 2nd place. Eisenhart limped in for 3rd after a hard morning while Robin Carpenter was just 2 seconds behind in 4th place. Putt is built for Nationals it seems like. He was 2nd in 2012 in a close sprint and has now won the past two years on the Blue Mounds course in Wisconsin. Putt is ready for the big-time pro level, that is without question. Swirbul, who hasn't raced a bunch with Bissell this year but mainly showing himself in hillclimbs in Colorado, just showed up ready to fight today and his 2nd place was well deserved. The Beehive State (Utah, for those unaware) got to celebrate 2 podium spots while Bissell kept the jersey for another year.
In case you missed it on Wednesday, the 17-18 junior men RR happened and hinted at a future family dynasty. Jonny Brown (Hot Tubes) won the race in a 3-up sprint over Noah Granigan (Team CF) and David Lombardo (Hincapie Devo) after being in the breakaway for a few laps. Brown is the brother of Garmin-Sharp's Nate Brown, who also rode for Hot Tubes as a junior. Keep an eye on Brown in the coming years. National team teammates Will Barta and Adrien Costa led in the rest of the peloton for 4th and 5th.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Time for Stagiaires: 2014 Edition

One of my favorite times of the season, inevitably, is transfer season. More specifically, the time around now and heading into July when teams will announce their stagiaire selection. A stagiaire is French for trainee and starting on August 1st, the riders get a chance to race with pro teams. For some it is an audition and if they do well then they could get a nice contract. For others, it is about gaining experience in hopes of boosting their potential. The French are always the first to announce their stagiaires but I will keep the updates rolling as more are announced.

World Tour Teams


Romain Cardis
Jeremy Cornu
Taruia Krainer

Europcar announced three signings for next year from their feeder team Vendée U in sprinter/all-arounder Thomas Boudat, Julien Morice and Guillaume Thevenot. The also announced stagiaire spots three more Vendée U riders in Romain Cardis, Jeremy Cornu and Taruia Krainer. Cardis has one win this year but is able to get up in the bunch kicks such as a 3rd in one stage of Tour de Normandie and 4th in the French Amateur RR Championships. Krainer was the surprise winner of the Paris-Tours Espoirs in 2012 but the Tahitian rider has been quieter since then. He had a good year this year with a 12th overall in Tour de Bretagne and 6th overall in Paris-Arras. Cornu has avoided health concerns this year and after 4 years on Vendée U, he has been rewarded with a stagiaire spot. Cornu was 11th overall in the Tour de Normandie after some strong rides late in the race and was 2nd in the Tour du Eure-et-Loir, which is a DN1 race i.e. all the big French amateur teams. From an interview with Cornu on, he indicated that Europcar manager Jean-Rene Bernadeau said a possibility of a contract is still on the table for him and presumably the other stagiaires.

It is really good to see that while some teams do not use their development team to their full capacity, Europcar is almost relying on Vendée U completely to bring in young talent so they won't need to rely on transfers.


Lorenzo Manzin
Guillaume Martin
Marc Sarreau

Olivier Le Gac will be joining FDJ on a full contract from August 1st but FDJ went ahead and announced 3 stagiaires for the season as well. Lorenzo Manzin is a good sprinter with U Nantes Atlantique and got some recognition earlier this year for chucking a bottle at Kazakh Vadim Galeyev after he lost to him in a tight sprint in Normandie. Manzin, who is from Reunion Island, has won 4 races this year including 2 DN1 races and won the group sprint for 12th behind the breakaway of 11 at the ZLM Tour. Riding for CC Etupes, Guillaume Martin is winless but has done quite well on rolling to hilly terrain including breakaway rides in the Tour des Pays de Savoie, top 20 in the Berner Rundfahrt and Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 as well as 2nd overall in the hilly Tour du Franche-Comte. Sarreau has the best season going, at least in terms of results, as he has 4 wins and a slew of top 5 finishes including 3rd in the ZLM Tour Nations Cup. He has a good sprint on him but isn't a one-trick pony.


Tiesj Benoot
Xandro Meurisse
Olivier Naesen

While Louis Vervaeke is making the mid-year switch to the pro team, Tiesj Benoot is getting a stagiaire role this coming August after an impressive year and a half on Lotto-Belisol U23. Led by Kurt Van De Wouwer, Benoot has been a constant presence in the top 10 this year (12 times) and a steady hand for Louis Vervaeke in the mountains. Benoot is a strong all-arounder that can get it done in classics (3rd in Ronde van Vlaanderen U23) and stage races (3rd in Ronde de l'Isard).

UPDATE: After Benoot was announced, Xandro Meurisse and Olivier Naesen were announced as stagiaires for Lotto-Belisol on July 5th. Meurisse is an all-arounder who gets it done in one-day Belgian races but likes to mix it up in the stage races, where he is a constant in the top 10 on sprint days. Naesen (Team Cibel) is out of the U23 ranks (born in 1990 like yours truly) but has been killing it in one-day races with year with 4th in the 1.1 Ronde van Limburg and 9th in the 1.1 Handzame Classic while hitting the podium for 3rd in the Memorial Van Coningsloo. Respectively, Meurisse and Naesen were 8th and 10th in the recent 1.2 IWT Oetingen. Lotto is trying to beef up its classics team and both should be able to provide something in the late season one-day races.


Loic Vliegen
Dylan Teuns

I'm nonplussed to see BMC take on Vliegen and Teuns after the Swiss/American team have signed Stefan Kung. The team seems committed to their development team after reaping the rewards from Silvan Dillier so far this year. Vliegen and Teuns are like peanut butter and jelly. Both are good on hilly terrain and have done well together when they line up together. Vliegen is the punchier of the two riders while Teuns is the better climber. Vliegen won the Triptyque Ardennaise and finished 2nd in the IWT Oetingen and Fleche Ardennaise (both UCI 1.2) and was 4th in the L-B-L U23 behind Turgis. Teuns was 2nd overall in the Tour de Bretagne just 4 seconds behind Bert-Jan Lindeman but he did win a stage in the process. Teuns was 2nd in the L-B-L U23 (same breakaway as Vliegen) and 3rd in Romsee-Stavelot-Romsee behind Gaeten Bille and guess who...Vliegen.

BMC has released temporary schedules for the duo for their time with the pro team. Both will have a focus on the Tour de l'Avenir and World Championships, if they get selected. Teuns will be riding the Tour of Utah before returning for l'Avenir then riding Tour de Wallonie followed by Worlds. Vliegen will ride the RideLondon Classic, Arctic Race of Norway then l'Avenir, Wallonie and Worlds.


Ilya Koshevoy
Andrea Vaccher

7/7 Update: Thanks to @CyclingUpdates on Twitter for the reminder that I forgot to add Ilya Koshevoy on here. Koshevoy, a Belorussian who rides on the GS Podenzano amateur team in Italy, will be joining Lampre on August 1st this year as a stagiaire. The move had been a long time coming and Koshevoy was already taking pictures of himself in his Lampre kit in the middle of June. Koshevoy, who won the GP Liberazione last year in after dropping breakaway mate Adam Phelan, was a stagiaire with Androni last summer. It was rumored he would be moving to Lampre on a full contract but as of now, it is just for the stagiaire spot. Koshevoy has taken 3 wins this year mainly on hilly courses. His last win was an uphill time trial in Gardone Val Trompia where he won by over 20 seconds on the 9.4 kilometer course.

Koshevoy's first race with Lampre is slated to be the Tour of Utah.

Update 7/25: Andrea Vaccher will be joining Lampre and Koshevoy at the Tour of Utah. Vaccher is an older rider who is well out of the U23s but finally getting a shot on the pro level. He has been riding for Marchiol this year, which is on the continental level but still races some amateur events. He is fairly good in the one-day races and he won the Trofeo Edil C out of a 6-man breakaway earlier this year. In Utah though...I think Vaccher is going to be in the autobus a lot.


Frederik Ludvigsson

7/12 Update: Giant-Shimano, who might not even be around next year, decided to tap into their development team and call up some family. Frederik Ludvigsson might even be more talented than his big brother Tobias, who is now a 3rd year pro with Giant-Shimano. Freddy burst onto the scene last year with big time trials and strong GC riders including winning the Boulces de l'Artois and 5th in the Tour de Normandie. After People4You-Unaas collapsed, Ludvigsson joined Giant-Shimano Development for 2014 and kept right on with the strong rides. He was in the top 10 in GC at Normandie (10th), Triptyque Monts et Chateaux (5th) and the Circuit des Ardennes (10th) before turning in a damn fine 7th place in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23, which was technically 3rd in the bunch sprint that caught the break on the line.

Ludvigsson was in a bit of a late spring funk with some knee issues and such but everything seemed to come back together at Swedish Nationals. Ludvigsson got into the decisive breakaway and proceeded to finish in 4th place good for 2nd U23 and signaled that he would be ready for the 2nd half of the year. Ludvigsson is set to ride the Arctic Tour of Norway (2.1) and the Tour of Britain (2.HC).


Davide Martinelli

Update 7/12: Is this 2012?  Seriously. Davide Martinelli is a bit of a puzzle to me. I don't know whether to think of his as a time trialist or not. He can time trial and that seems to be his preferred discipline but he can sprint, which I think might be his hidden talent ala Marcel Kittel. So torn. I hope SKY can figure out what the hell to do with him. In the mean time, he has won 4 races this year including one sprint and 3 time trials. He also has five 2nd place finishes smattered across the board including 2nd to Stefan Küng at the European U23 TT Championships on Friday.


Rasmus Guldhammer

7/20 Update: Is this 2009 or something? Rasmus Guldhammer won the Liege-Bastogne Liege U23 that year and finished 4th in the Post Danmark Rundt. He was just 20 and he signed a contract with HTC-Columbia, the best team in the world at the time. He then proceeded to be one of the biggest busts in cycling history. Guldhammer moved to Italy and quickly became homesick; barely training and not performing up to snuff. The only times he did perform were in Denmark but that wasn't going to cut it. He went back to Denmark and has ridden on three different teams in the last 4 years. The last two years, Guldhammer has ridden for Tre-For-Blue Water and has gotten his mojo back. He won two stages in Loir-et-Cher with explosive attacks and won the Hadeland GP in Norway. He also recently finished 4th in the Danish National RR.

His move to Tinkoff-Saxo isn't a revelation because while Oleg Tinkov is a mad man, the team still has strong Danish roots (for at least this year) and Guldhammer would be a nice addition. He is down to ride the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado and the Tour of Britain. The former, I think, he will struggle through while the Tour of Britain is a race where he could definitely shine with short climbs and explosive finishes.


Sven Erik Bystrøm

Update 7/20: Bystrøm will be joining compatriot Alexander Kristoff at the oligarch-run Katusha for the rest of the season with a possible neo-pro contract being discussed. Bystrom has had a great last U23 season with 15 top-10 finishes so far and while he hasn't won a UCI race this year, his talent for the classics and selective sprinting is quite evident.

Ag2r-La Mondiale

Nico Denz
François Bidard
Jimmy Raibaud

Update 7/20: Denz is the first call-up by Ag2r, who usually bring on the maximum amount of stagiaires every year to give them a shot in the umpteen amount of smaller French races the team is invited to. Denz rides for Chambery CF, Ag2r's feeder team, and while many of you haven't probably heard of him, he is a good prospect with a good turn of speed. He just won the 7th round of the DN1 Coupe de France at the Trophee des Champions in Aquitane, where he broke away from 4 others including Olivier Le Gac and future teammate Jimmy Raibaud. He also won a German Cup race in Caldozburg, where he was on his own and ended up winning solo ahead of the likes of a full-on Stölting team, Heizomat and others.

Update 7/21: The team announced that they would also be taking on Jimmy Raibaud and François Bidard. This isn't Raibaud's first go around with Ag2r. He was a stagiaire with the team in 2012 but didn't get selected for a pro contract. Soon after, Raibaud began to develop some knee issues and basically, his entire 2013 campaign was scrapped. He has to sit home and watch races while not being able to train. He had to give up his French Amateur National Champions jersey. 2014 was a year of redemption for the CR4C Roanne rider. He started early with a win in the 2nd round of the Coupe de France in the GP de Buxerolles in a two-up sprint over Yann Guyot. He won a big bunch sprint in the UCI Rhône Alpes Isere Tour as well as a stage in the Tour de la Creuse. He was also 3rd in the DN1 Coupe de France won by new teammate Denz.

Bidard just joined Chambery this year and is a fairly good climber. He hasn't had any huge performances this year, only a small overall win in a French race, but he has done multiple UCI stage race with a lot of climbing and was 8th overall in the last year's Tour du Gevaudan Languedoc-Roussillon.


Martijn Tusveld

Update 7/25: Tusveld will be coming up from Rabobank Development to join Belkin starting at the Tour of Utah. Tusveld has been a consistent rider for Rabobank Devo on pretty much any terrain. He was 4th in the 2013 Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 and was hanging around the top 20 overall in the Tour des Fjords, Rhone-Alpes Isere and Ster ZLM Tour.

Trek Racing

Alex Kirsch

Update 7/25: Kirsch will be joining the pro team at the Tour of Utah. Kirsch has ridden for the Luxembourg-based Leopard Development team for the last few year and has fashioned himself from a potential GC rider to an all-around/classics style rider that can ride a good TT and be handy in a bunch sprint. Kirsch was 7th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 Nations Cup this year and was 3rd in the Skoda Tour of Luxembourg prologue this year as well as in the Triptyque Monts et Chateaux TT, which secured him 3rd overall in the race. Kirsch has come a long way in just a few years and I tip my imaginary hat to him for getting the call-up. I hope he can get a nice contract for 2015.

Pro Continental Teams


Dylan Kowalski
Anthony Turgis
Loic Chetout

Turgis is best known this year for his somewhat surprise win at the Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 but outside of that he has been a bit quiet. He came out this past weekend in the French Amateur Championships for 3rd place. Kowalski is young and has 5 wins this year but mainly from smaller races. Kowalski was a keen junior with many wins including in UCI races like the Course de la Paix (Peace Race).

7/7: Loic Chetout was the final Cofidis stagiaire announced by the French team. It could be a very promising move for them as Chetout has blossomed in his first season out of the Euskaltel-Euskadi system (Naturagas Energia) with GSC Blagnac. Chetout is a French Basque, a rarity in the pro peloton, from Bayonne and has won 7 races this year including a UCI race, the 3rd stage in the Ronde de l'Isard, which is fairly close to home. Chetout is a strong all-around rider who did well in classics-style races this year but can ride in the hills pretty well, with his overall win in the Bidasoa Itzulia as evidence.

IAM Cycling

Sondre Holst Enger
Simon Pellaud
Claudio Imhof
The talented Norwegian signed early on this year with IAM Cycling for a stagiaire role as well as a possibility at a contract for 2015. Enger has had a much quieter year compared to last year but put it back together for the Tour of Norway and Tour des Fjords, where he had 4 podium finishes on stages (there was a dearth of sprinters to be honest) and 5th overall in Fjords. Enger won the Norwegian U23 RR in a mass sprint but didn't have similar luck in the Elite Men's race, where he finished 17th.

Update 7/21: Enger will be going full pro instead of just a stagiaire.

Update 7/23: It was announced that Simon Pellaud and Claudio Imhof would be joining the team as stagiaires as of 8/1. Pellaud rides primarily with the Swiss National Team and has ridden very well in one day races including 4th place in this year's La Cote Picarde Nations Cup and 11th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, which ended in the very messy sprint that saw a massive crash. Pellaud is a strong boy and he could be a good addition to IAM's one-day team. Imhof is mainly a track rider and has ridden in multiple 6-day races.
Bretagne-Séché Environment

Axel Journiaux
Kevin Ledanois
Frank Bonnamour

Bonnamour's selection was announced nearly 2 months ago after his 8th place overall in the Tour de Bretagne, which is very impressive for a first year U23. Bonnamour was a very strong junior including the European Champion in 2013 and has a lot of talent to give. Riding with his CC Nogent-sur-Oise team, Ledanois led the team with a 6th overall at the Tour de Normandie while he was 11th in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 behind winning teammate Anthony Turgis. Ledanois is a rouleur that can do a bit of everything and has done quite well for himself in prologues and short time trials. Don't know much about Journiaux but he was a good junior last year and this year he has 4 wins in smaller races while on the DN3 Pays de Denain team.

Caja Rural

Arnau Sole

Update 7/12: The Spanish side has once again chosen from its amateur team for its stagiaires and started with choosing climber Arnau Sole. Sole won the famed Subida al Gorla and has been strong on the Spanish continental scene for the green and white squad.

Interestingly enough, Caja Rural also went on the announce that 3 more riders would be fighting it out (on the cage matches) to decide the last two stagiaire spots. Miguel Angel Benito, Hector Saiz and Jesus Alberto Rubio will be riding to see who gets a change to ride with Caja Rural later this year. I'm saying now that Benito has an inside track seeing as he was 2nd overall in this year's Copa de Espana overall ranking. So Saiz and Rubio for the 3rd spot...should be just so fun to follow. Maybe. If you are into that sort of thing.


Patrick Konrad
Gregor Mühlberger
Alexander Krieger

Update 7/21: Perhaps the best stagiaire class overall? NetApp-Endura have secured sponsorship for the next 5 years in the form of BORA, who have indicated that they will be wanting more German speaking talent. If there was a wish list for five young German speaking riders for 2015, I would put all three of these riders on that list.

Patrick Konrad is very deserving of a World Tour contract so NetApp-Endura landing him is good news for BORA in 2015. Konrad ran with Etixx in 2013 and was 3rd overall in l'Avenir and yet when it came to a pro contract...crickets. This year was a grudge year with Gourmetfein-Simplon. He started out with a stage win in a small bunch sprint in Triptyque Monts et Chateaux followed by 4th overall on a non-Konrad course. After a small lull, he went 6th overall in the Rhône Alpes Isere Tour, 4th in the GP Südkärnten and then 2nd in the GP Jugendorf. Then he wins the Öberosterreich Rundfahrt overall...and he is just getting warmed up. Konrad goes on to kick some ass in the Osterreich Rundfahrt; the tour of his own country. He experienced only one truly bad day where he lost a minute and a half to leader Kennaugh and if he wouldn't have limited his losses better he would have been standing on the final podium...instead of in 4th overall place. Just 22 years old. Patrick Konrad could be a mega-talent if properly managed.

Mühlberger has arrived this year and has been tearing it up this year with Tirol. Just a 2nd year U23 at this point, Mühlberger came out storming at the Istrian Spring Trophy to take the prologue win and then put his hand in on one of the uphill finishes to finish 4th overall. Mühlberger is a freight train; big amounts of power that can be seen in sprints, breakaways and time trials. He proceeded to win the Trofeo Piva Banca after breaking away with four others on the hilly circuit and took the sprint easily ahead of Alexander Foliforov, Robbie Power and Manuel Senni...these names should sound familiar. If not, you need to read my site more. Was his season done? No way. He then capitalized on his time trial skills and blew the doors off the competition in the Carpathian Couriers Tour, where he won the overall thanks to him time trial and then conserving that lead. After winning a two-up breakaway stage with Konrad at the Öberosterreich Rundfahrt, Mühlberger was the only rider to be able to stick with Riccardo Zoidl somewhat at Austrian Nationals, elite or U23, and Mühlberger finished 2nd to the Trek rider and won the U23 race by a slim 6 minutes and 16 seconds. He even rode the Tour of Austria and spent some days in the attacks getting KOM points. If you haven't paid attention to Mühlberger yet, then do it. Now.

Krieger is a rider that has gotten my respect this year with some gritty performances. He is in his first year out of the U23 ranks like Konrad and has been acting like his life depends on results. Perhaps it is that "Oh shit, I need to kick it into gear" feeling or just having a full team backing him but Krieger has been a warrior this year. 4th place in Waasland to get the year going. 6th in the Rund um Köln...okay the race isn't the deepest field but it is a 1.1 race. Then 4th at the Ronde van Zeeland Seaports behind Bos, Sinkledam and Van Staeyen; those are some legit names. His latest result was a 4th place at the German National RR behind Greipel, Degenkolb and Phil Bauhaus. Krieger might not be winning 10 races a year but he will scrap for results and would be a great addition to the teams sprinters that already include Sam Bennett, Daniel Schorn, etc.


Brendan Canty

Continental Teams

Roubaix-Lille Metropole

Romain Le Roux
Jéremy Leveau


Alexis Isérable
David Menut


Dan Eaton

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

U23 National RR Roundup

Let's do a quick roundup of the U23 National Road Races that took this weekend...

Ireland: Ryan Mullen

Ryan Mullen decided to not let any World Tour riders keep the Irish jersey and he decided to go on a loooooong breakaway and by the time he crossed the line, he was nearly a minute ahead of teammate Sean Downey and ex-AnPost rider Paidi O'Brien by the time he crossed the line solo to win both the Irish Elite and U23 National Road Race titles. Mullen is really the next big Irish rider after a great junior career and U23 career, to date, and will be on the tip of many's tongue coming into 2015.

Spain: Gonzalo Andrés

Italy: Simone Sterbini

There is a reason that Simone Sterbini (Pala Fenice) signed with Bardiani-CSF for 2015 all the way back in 2013. After taking an impressive stage win in the mountains in Peaches and Nectarines, Sterbini made the 7-man breakaway in the Italian National Championships that was able to go to the line. In the final 180 turn with less than half a kilometer to go, Jacopo Mosca (Viris-Maserati) led the group out but Sterbini launched from the 3rd wheel and won comfortably ahead of Simone Andreetta (Zalf-Euromobil), Luca Chirico (MG.Kvis-Trevigiani) and Iuri Filosi (Colpack). Sterbini isn't one of those guys that goes for 8 wins a year but when he wins, it is big.

Austria: Gregor Mühlberger

Kicked everyone in the stomach. The Austrian U23s were lumped into the elite category and it was an absolutely brutal pace. Something like 3500 meters of climbing and over 100 miles in distances makes a tough day for anyone. Riccardo Zoidl and Gregor Mühlberger were able to make the final selection and while Zoidl made the final blow to take the win, Mühlberger performed out of his skin to take the U23 crown. He beat the 2nd place U23 rider, Maximillian Keun, by over 6 minutes. Mühlberger is ready for the pro peloton. Mark my words. Also underline. And star. Underline one more time for good measure. Only 21 riders finished the elite/u23 race.

Albania: Xhuliano Kamberaj

Reversing the result from the Albanian TT, Xhuliano Kamberaj beat out Nikaj Iltjan in a sprint to win the Albanian Elite RR Championship. Basically count it as a U23 championship because all of the best Albanian racers are U23s and race in Italy for some pretty notable amateur teams. Both Kamberaj and Iltjan have some potential so good on them for going back to the mother country to ride nationals.

Rwanda: Valens Ndayisenga

At last autumn's Tour of Rwanda, Valens Ndayisenga won the 2nd stage of the race in an uphill sprint as just a first year U23. He has continued to ride well for the National Team this year by competiting in the Algerian Grand Tour and finishing rather well in most of the races. After taking a break from racing, Valens came back to racing with the Rwandan National Championships. In the TT, he beat out every strong contender incluing Jean Bosco Nsengimana and Adrien Niyonshuti. The next day, Valens beat out Janvier Hadi and Bonaventure Uwizeyimana to take out the Elite Rwandan RR title.

The Rwandan National program might have truly started with Adrien Niyonshuti but I think that Valens Ndayisenga could be the most talented rider to day. That is saying a lot since Bonaventure won a stage in Amissa Bongo this year and was getting offers from Vendée U to ride for their squad in Europe. Valens was the last emperor of the Eastern Roman Emperor before things truly went to shit. Perhaps Valens I tooks enough of the flack so Rwandan Valens go extend his legs and go into the pro ranks climbing. Someday.

Slovakia: Lubos Malovec

Czech Republic: Tomas Koudela

Ukraine: Valerii Taradai

Portugal: Joaquim Silva

Silva, pure and simple, rode everyone else into the ground. 2nd place was 2'58" back and the peloton was 10 minutes down fighting for 4th place.

Netherlands: Tim Kerkhof

When a team puts 7 riders in the top 10, you kind of expect that team to win. Right? Wrong. Rabobank Development kind of dropped the ball a little bit. They put 7 in the top 10 yet only one rider on the podium in Piotr Havik. Etixx's Tim Kerkhof was joined by Havik and Dennis Bakker and Kerkhof, who isn't exactly known for winning lately, was able to outsprint the other two to take the impressive win. A little egg on your face there Rabobank.

Poland: Piotr Brozyna

Belarus: Nikolai Shumov

Canada: Ben Perry

Perry (Lotto-Belisol U23) was never in contention for the win with Svein Tuft being on a rampage but Perry was able to hold onto one of the main chasing groups with 3 Quebecois in Guillaume Boivin (Cannondale), Hugo Houle (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Antoine Duchesne (Europcar) to take the U23 jersey by a whopping 13 minutes over Kris Dahl (Smartstop). The Belgians will be happy with Perry taking a little souvenir back with him across the pond.

Sweden: Markus Faglum

Descent of the famed Faglum brothers (Gosta Pettersson and his brothers but they were from the town of Faglum), Markus Faglum has now taken up the family business. Faglum was apart of a 4-man break in the Swedish Elite/U23 RR including Michael Olsson, Alexander Wetterhall and Frederik Ludvigsson. Olsson hit out for broke in the end to take the Elite Men's crown while Faglum distanced Ludvigsson in the finale to take the U23 jersey. He even had time for a wheelie across the line.

Other results:

-Phil Bauhaus is collecting podium spots in the German Championships. After going 2nd to his Stölting teammate Max Walscheid in the U23 RR Championship, Bauhaus lined up for the German Elite RR and proceeded to go 3rd overall behind two heavyweights in Andre Greipel and John Degenkolb. Bauhaus is turning 20 years old in a week. Are people going to finally pay attention to this stud or am I going to have to slap them upside the head? Seriously. Bauhaus will be the next big young German sprinter. Young Alexander Kreiger (Stuttgart) continued his strong season in 4th while Willi Willwohl (LKT Brandenburg) snuck in for 9th.

-Apparently going 26th in the U23 RR is good prep for the Elite National RR. In one of the more shocking championship results this year, Tormod Hausken Jacobsen, an unheralded U23 on Øster Hus-Ridley, took out the biggest win of his short career. Hausken Jacobsen was the freshest heading into the final sprint and owes a huge thanks to his teammates Sven Erik Bystrøm, who was on the attack from early on until the penultimate lap, and Frederik Galta, who gave him a nice leadout in the end.'s Filip Eidsheim had to settle for 2nd while Odd Christian Eiking placed a very strong 3rd overall ahead of World Tour rider Vegard Breen. Big favorite Alexander Kristoff came in in 16th overall over 2 minutes down with Sondre Holst Enger and Vegard Stake Laengen. Article here with results and another with more reactions here and here.

-Denmark had their U23 RR weeks ago but many of them lined up for the Danish Elite RR in Faa-Faa-Faaborg. Michael Valgren continued his strong neo-pro season by breaking away to take the solo win while behind it was U23 Michael Carbel who won the bunch sprint for 2nd, which is a damn fine result for a first year U23. Also in that front chasing group was Christina Watches' Alexander Kamp. Kamp was just publicly shamed by his DS Bo Hamburger on Open Mic with Mike Creed for being one of the biggest Danish talents yet having limited work ethic and also having his father call up about his schedule. Again, that would be like your dad calling your boss and asking about your schedule and why you aren't getting a raise, etc. Kamp was such a talented junior but his U23 career has been up and down and he needs to get his shit together before he fades into darkness.