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Re: U23 news, results, rumours and all that jazz
« Reply #90 on: September 21, 2018, 12:26 »
I have been somewhat remiss with this thread lately, especially because one of the goals was to follow some of the names to which we were introduced in Spring right through to stagiaire and/or pro contract.

We left the story just after the Nats but a good while before the final and most important round of the U23 Nations Cup, namely the Tour de l'Avenir. Let's look at the GC palmares since 2010:

2017 - BERNAL Egan
2016 - GAUDU David
2015 - SOLER Marc
2014 - LÓPEZ Miguel Ángel
2013 - FERNÁNDEZ Rubén
2012 - BARGUIL Warren
2011 - CHAVES Esteban
2010 - QUINTANA Nairo

And here's the top 10 of the very closely fought 2017 edition, showing those who would go on to sign for teams and those who we could expect to see again this year:

1. BERNAL Egan 29:56:33 --> #sky
2. LAMBRECHT Bjorg at 1:09 --> #tdflotto
3. EG Niklas at 1:12 --> #trek
4. HAMILTON Lucas at 1:28 --> #mitchelton
5. CRAS Steff at 2:03 --> #katusha
6. SCHLEGEL Michal at 2:06 --> #ccc
7. FOSS Tobias at 2:11 --> returns in 2018
8. KNOX James at 2:38 --> #quickstep
9. STORER Michael at 3:14 --> #sunweb
10. HINDLEY Jai at 4:10 --> #sunweb

While the time gaps weren't huge on last year's parcours, this time around and in common with the TdF, the riders faced a 36km mountain stage, as well as three stiff Alpine tests of a more normal length.

Many of the "usual suspects" turned up: a strong Colombian contingent now reinforced by the precocious Ivan Sosa, the complete Baby Giro podium of Vlasov, Almeida and Stannard and several hot tips already racing among the bigs including Brandon McNulty, Edward Dunbar, Damien Touze and Fernando Barcelo.

Future sprint king Max Kanter took the opening gallop while Alain Riou scored from the next day's BOTD to put himself in yellow at least until the TTT on Stage 4. Touze took Stage 3 in commanding fashion to continue the home nation's impressive run.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, *dk destroyed the TTT on a short 20km course, putting 13 seconds into nearest rival *be but a solid ride from third-placed *no put Hakon Aalrust into yellow. The stage was particularly tough on  *rw, already down to a duo after four of its riders DNF'd the previous day due to crashes and time limits, but Areruya and Mugisha did enough to stay in the race.

In this most crashy of Avenirs, Aalrust and Kanter both hit the deck and the Norwegian was forced to hand the jersey back to Riou who now held a comfortable cushion over his next nearest rival Andreas Stokbro on GC. Matthew Gibson won the mass sprint.

19-year old #uae recruit Alessandro Covi stole a win from the bunch on Stage 6 with a long BOTD success but the sharp end of the week was afoot and, having been patient on the flat, it was now Sosa's turn to shine on the short mountain stage, outsprinting McNulty - whose victory salute proved premature - and Tadej Pogacar after barely an hour of fierce racing.

At this point, Sosa was too far back on GC to draw closer than 13th overall, which meant that Pogacar, still only 19 and already the winner of this year's Peace Race in this year's Nations Cup, took over with a narrow lead. This set the scene for the stages to follow, with the entire top 10 on GC now inside a minute.

Stage 8 featured a long, rather uneventful approach to the Col de Saisies and, perhaps more importantly, its descent, the bottom of which would bring the peloton within 2km of the uphill finish. Swiss talent Gino Mäder climbed with the leaders but distanced them downhill, hanging on to a fifteen-second gap to take the victory from an élite group in a result that did little to change the overall standings.

The penultimate stage included the major obstacles of Les Arcs and the MTF at Val d'Isère and Fernando Barcelo made his big solo attack on the penultimate climb of the day. Meanwhile, isolated but more than capable of following the moves of the day, Pogacar put a big stamp on GC by attacking with 20km to go. Sosa, who had been riding through illness, could not follow and would lose well over a minute, while McNulty punctured on the final climb and lost almost five. The Slovene leader had Barcelo in his sights as he and Luxembourgeois rival Michel Ries hacked away at the last few kilometres but the the bold Spaniard would hold on for a famous win.

Pogacar could now contemplate the final day, from Val d'Isère to the Col du Glandon, with a comfortable 1:07 margin over Ries but, with the Col de l'Iseran in between, he had every reason to feel trepidation. As it turned out, however, the organisers were forced to shorten the stage due to conditions on the Iseran and so the race started further along the route.

If Pogacar enjoyed any benefit from skipping the Iseran, he would quickly lose it on the descent of the Col de Chaussy, where he mistook a corner and, while narrowly avoiding a crash, found himself dropped by the other contenders. The demon descender Mäder had no such problems and built himself a decent gap, lying thirty seconds on virtual GC before being reeled in with six kilometres to go. Pogacar eventually regained contact and looked on as Mäder, seemingly undaunted by being caught, outsprinted Dunbar for the stage. The Swiss also took third step on the GC podium behind Dutchman Thyman Arensman who had himself ridden a more measured, tactical race.

But it was Pogacar who retained yellow and won the 2018 Tour de l'Avenir. Another #uae signing for next year, given due time and careful coaching, he will surely become a future Grand Tour contender.

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  • « Last Edit: September 21, 2018, 17:20 by LukasCPH, Reason: I guess you wanted to embed the GC, not the team classification ;) »
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