Friday, April 18, 2014

Prize money from GiroBio 2012 to be paid out

Remember that kerfuffle that I talked about briefly last year when the was GiroBio fighting to stay alive and there were some teams unhappy because they had not received a cent of their prize money from the 2012 event? Well nearly two years later, the issue is finally coming to an end...maybe. At the annual meeting of the FCI (Federazione Ciclistica Italiana) that had just finished, it was confirmed that teams and riders from the 2012 GiroBio will finally be receiving their prize money.

Race Director Giancarlo Broci was desperate last year to try and continue the GiroBio even though he owed people money for the 2012 edition and he was way behind in securing sponsors for the 2013 edition. Broci offered a plan to have teams pay 5,000 euro for a place in the race, which would secure the race, but the teams shot that plan down instantly because of the bad precedent it would set between them and race promoters. The race was postponed indefinitely while Broci sought after sponsors to somehow revive the race. At last year's FCI meeting, there were talks of team's non-payment from the 2012 edition of the race and the federation ordered Broci & the organizers to pay out. Well it turns out that the mandate fell on deaf ears because Broci and the GiroBio just decided not to pay out any of the money for the prizes and since this is common place with many races, many just forgot about it. Until now...

The FCI, who was unaware of the non-payment up until now because they believed that Broci and co. would follow through with their ruling from the year prior, were informed by Italian amateur teams of the non-payment and according to VP Daniela Isetti, will be giving money directly to riders and teams, which should have been taken care of in 2012. It is an embarrassing case for the FCI because of their lack of enforcement and complacency in assuming the money would get to where it needed to go. Hopefully there is a follow-up this year to make sure riders are actually paid and it is not just assumed once again.

The 2012 GiroBio was won by Joe Dombrowski (now SKY) ahead of Fabio Aru (Astana) and Pierre Paolo Penasa (retired).

Credit to for breaking the story on the Wednesday including an update on Thursday.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Welcome to Wallay World!: Jens Wallays wins La Côte Picarde Nations Cup

Vive le France! The Griswolds arrived at Wally World Europe! Just in time to see Belgian Jens Wallays to attack his breakaway mates with one kilometer to go and take out the 23rd La Côte Picarde ahead of a sprinting Thomas Boudat and Soren Kragh Andersen. To those of you who are new, Wallays might sound familiar because Jens' big brother is Jelle Wallays, who rides for Topsport Vlaanderen. Jens is no slouch either as he is the current Belgian U23 RR Champion but let's get back to the race...

A breakaway of 5 spent the majority of the race off the front that included Ryan Mullen (Ireland), Luka Pibernik (Slovenia), Jon Dibben (GB), Mario Gonzalez (Spain) and Sergiy Kozachenko (Ukraine). The group got a maximum of 7 minutes over the opening flat kilometers before the race hit a few bumps. With over 80 kilometers to the line, the wind and tight roads were already wreaking havoc on the peloton with riders including Ignazio Moser (Italy) being dropped away. Kozachenko dropped away from the breakaway, who continued to chug along to the tune of "I think we can, I think we can...".

With 50 kilometers to go, the gap was down to 3'25" and it would begin to drop like a stone. When the race crossed the finish line for the first time to do two finishing circuits, the breakaway began to blow up. First it was Ryan Mullen quickly followed by Jon Dibben to leave just Pibernik and Gonzalez out front. Gonzalez, who rides on the Polish Active Jet team, was putting in a great ride with Pibernik, who is slated to join Lampre for 2015 as a neo-pro. While Gonzalez was strong, Pibernik was stronger and the Slovenian pulled away from the Spaniard with 30 kilometers to go on one of the two uphills on the finishing circuit. When he crossed the line to take the final 18.6 kilometer lap, Pibernik only had 55 seconds on the peloton, who was in full buzzsaw mode, spitting riders out all over the place.

With just 9 kilometers to go, the feisty Slovenian was brought back by the peloton but just because the race was back together with a group of nearly 50 did not mean that it was headed towards a bunch sprint. With about 6 kilometers to go on a rise in the course, 9 riders were drawn out including Jens Wallays (Belgium), Thomas Boudat (France), Soren Kragh Andersen (Denmark), Simon Pellaud (Switzerland), Mikel Aristi (Spain), Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Kazakhstan), Jan Dieteren (Germany), Gregor Mühlberger (Austria) and Kirill Yatsevich (Russia). It was a strange amalgam of riders with some sprinters, some climbers and some rouleurs thrown in there but they worked well together as the race entered the final kilometers. In the final kilometer, Wallays attack out of a roundabout and nobody in the group was taking up the impetus to chase the Belgian with a few looking at Boudat, the current omnium World Champion on the track, because of his big turn of speed and not wanting to drag him to the line.

In the end, it was Wallays who was able to enjoy the final meters to take an impressive victory while Boudat and Kragh lead in the remnants of the breakaway. Right on the breakaway's coattails were the peloton, lead in by French Basque Loïc Chetout, who finished on the same time as the riders in the breakaway. Full results of the race can be seen on DirectVelo. With the win, Belgium took over the lead in the Nations Cup classification by 11 points over the Dutch and 17 over the Suisse.

It would be important to note some of the riders who came in way down and were time cut that included wunder-sprinter Nicolas Marini, Ignazio Moser, Mads Pedersen, Dieter Bouvry and Marc Soler. Marini was involved in a crash with one-lap to go and injured his hand, which was not seriously fortunately.

1. Jens Wallays (Belgium)
2. Thomas Boudat (France)
3. Soren Kragh Andersen (Denmark)
4. Simon Pellaud (Switzerland)
5. Mikel Aristi (Spain)
6. Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Kazakhstan)
7. Kirill Yatsevich (Russia)
8. Jan Dieteren (Germany)
9. Gregor Mühlberger (Austria)
10. Loïc Chetout (France)

The spring Nations Cups end this Saturday in Zeeland, the Netherlands with the ZLM Tour, which will included some dykes, wind and gutter racing, just in case anyone hasn't had their fill yet.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Weekend Review: Everything else that happened plus more

Circuit des Ardennes

While many of the U23s on the national teams were away in Flanders, some of the GC oriented riders including Silvio Herklotz (Stolting/Germany) and Frederik Ludvigsson (Giant-Shimano/Sweden) opted to go with the 3-day Circuit des Ardennes instead.

Stage 1 features a few rolling hills but Vini Fantini-Nippo basically cheated by having two ex-professionals in Pier Paolo De Negri and Grega Bole taking 1-2 ahead of Loic Vliegen (BMC Devo) and Kristian Haugaard (Giant-Shimano Devo).

Stage 2 was another hilly rolling stage but a duo in Troels Vinther (CULT Energy) and big hitter Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx) were able to escape and after Vinther crossed the line for the stage win, they had a gap of 25 seconds back to the peloton, which ended up in a reduced sprint won by Grega Bole.

Stage 3 and 4 on Sunday were split stages that featured some more reduced bunch sprints. Stage 3, that featured some more small climbs, was won by none other than Bole, who was in his first race back after not being able to find a contract after being dropped by Lampre. Vinther was dropped and Wisniowski assumed the leader's jersey for the afternoon. Stage 4 saw former Rabobank rider Coen Vermeltfoort (De Rijke-Shanks) take the bunch sprint ahead of Eduard Grosu (Vini Fantini-Nippo) and Daniel Klemme (Synergy Baku). With no time bonuses, Wisniowski was able to take the overall win ahead of Bole and Haugaard, who both finished at 25 seconds back. Frederik Ludvigsson won the U23 classification simply because he placed better on some stages than 8 others who finished on the same time including Felix Großschartner, Herklotz, Ildar Arslanov, Robert Power, Louis Vervaeke and Alexander Foliforov.

This race needs to define itself. It did have a worthy winner because Wisniowski went on the attack but 3 other stages ended in sprints and while the courses were tough, they ended in this middle area where they sorted only some of the wheat from the chaff and a big group would still come to the line together. Perhaps a shorter stage with more climbs to blow the thing to bits? Some time bonuses perhaps? Because this edition was rather forgettable. Cheers to Bole for finding his groove again.

Trofeo Edil C and Memorial Gasparotto

While the sprint boys had it out on Sunday, some serious racing was also done on Saturday including the UCI ranked Trofeo Edit C and the Memorial Gerry Gasparotto.

A breakaway decided Trofeo Edil C, which entailed 149 kilometers around the city of Collecchio. While it is a UCI race, it isn't one of the bigger Italian one-day races such as Trofeo Piva Banca. A breakaway of 6 attacked and took the race to the line and after some cat and mouse in the final kilometers, it was Andrea Vaccher (Marchio) who took out the sprint ahead of young first year U23 Simone Velasco (Zalf-Euromobil), who left the sprint a bit too late and ran out of room to do much. 3rd was Damiano Cima. In the bunch sprint just 25 seconds back, Daniele Cavasin (Zalf-Euromobil) beat out Davide Martinelli (Colpack) and Thomas Pinaglia (Gragnano) for 7th.

Memorial Gerry Gasparotto basically boiled down to a Zalf-Euromobil vs. Colpack duel. On a hillier course than Edil C, Simone Andreetta broke away solo and took his lead into the final lap against a chasing group that included his teammates Giacomo Berlato and Andrea Toniatti as well as Manuele Senni and Iuri Filosi (both Colpack) and Stefano Nardelli. Andreetta held a small advantage over the final hill and extended it in the final kilometers with Toniatti winning the sprint behind for 2nd ahead of Filosi and Senni. Zalf-Euromobil DS Gianni Faresin was happy with his squad's performance and is looking for ward to hillier races with this group as he thinks they have a lot to offer. I do have to say it is good to see Colpack getting back into form with Filosi and Senni on the hills while Martinelli has been mixing it up in the sprints and attacks.


-Bosnia was the host to 2 one-day races over the past weekend in the Banja Luka Belgrade I & II. Saturday's race went from Banja Luka to Brcko and only featured a few difficulties in terms of any hills before a flat finish. Slovenian U23 Martin Otonicar (Radenska) was able to take the bunch gallop out ahead of Fabian Schnaidt (Vorarlberg) and Mattia Gavazzi (Christina Watches). Sunday's race from Bijeljina to Belgrade saw some fucking drugdealer win the race ahead of Greek Georgios Bouglas (SP Tableware) and German Stefan Schafer (LKT Brandenburg). The top U23 from Sunday was Otonicar down in 8th place. I, myself, do enjoy the Central European racing scene and wish it could grow into something that could really feature the difficult terrain of the region but I'll take what I can get at this point.

-Also in Italy, Zalf-Euromobil's Alessandro Tonelli took out Tuesday's Coppa Fiera di Mercatale after breaking away with Mirco Maestri from a group of 7 in the finale and winning the two-up sprint for Zalf's 12th win of the season. Just 10 seconds behind, Sunday's winner Simone Andreetta won the bunch sprint for 3rd ahead of Luca Benedetti, teammate Gianni Moscon and Iuri Filosi (Colpack). As of now, Zalf is a leviathan in Italian amateur cycling that only a select few seem to be able to topple. I'm still uncomfortable by the fact that they are helmed by Gianni Faresin, who was on Lampre, Mapei and Gerolsteiner among other teams that were definitely not the cleanest. Times change and what not but doping in Italian amateur racing is still present so while I am impressed by Zalf's dominance, I still have that skeptical bit in my mind.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's La Cote Picarde U23 Nations Cup, which should be an exciting race that of course you can't see any live because cycling's development system is busted and the funding system is pretty shitty. And I'm only talking about U23 men because, of course, the situation for women racers is even worse. But I probably should just shut up about it like the UCI would like and just smile and and wave.

Italian Sprint Opera: Mareczko beats Marini

In fair Veneto, our story continues. The house of Zalf-Euromobil has dominated the racing up to this point with nearly every race they enter coming up as a win. The houses of Colpack and Viris-Maserati have been trying to launch a counter to the blue-green-red leviathan but to no avail until this past Saturday, where on home soil, an upset occurred for the heavily-favored Zalf-Euromobil team.

The Italian Sprint Opera: Mareczko beats Marini at Vicenza-Bionde

Mareczko is becoming a master of the "sprint face" (Photo: Italia Ciclismo)

Jakub Mareczko, the young sprinter with Viris Maserati, has had a very good last two weekends and seems to have finally broken through after beating Caleb Ewan and now Zalf-Euromobil's super sprinter Nicolas Marini, who had won 6 races already this year coming into Sunday's Vicenza-Bionde. Marini had finished 2nd in the race a year prior behind a solo Marlen Zmorka.

Marini came into Sunday's race having not lost a proper sprint yet this year; with his only non-wins coming in races where the race didn't catch the breakaway (and he won the sprint behind) or there was a long breakaway out front and his team usually won. Zalf-Euromobil and Viris Maserati kept the race together of the few climbs on the course, which sealed the sprinter's dual. Coming into the finale, it was the ever-faithful Davide Gomirato leading out Marini for the sprint and Marini opted for a longer sprint, launching with over 300 meters to go. While Marini usually has knockout speed, after 170 kilometers in the legs his speed was not the sharpest it had been and in the final meters, it was Mareczko, whose chest was just an inch of his handlebars, that came around him to take a stunning win. Mareczko pulled a similar maneuver on Caleb Ewan just the other week by ducking underneath him within the last 15 meters to take the win. Mareczko took his 3rd win of the year while Marini was disappointed with 2nd place but will find solace with the U23 Nations Cups races this week. A new face on the podium was Albanian Xhuliano Kamberaj (Cipollini Ale' Rime), who had previously been down with a virus, while Andrei Voicu (Pala Fenice) finished 4th and Gomirato in 5th.

The next big objective for the Italian sprinters will be at the GP Liberazione, the annual race that commemorates the fall of Mussolini's republic. Last year, Ilya Koshevoy attacked Adam Phelan on the last lap to run away with an impressive solo win. Now while the race is short and not necessarily the toughest race, many Italians see this race as a very important event and put everything on the line. Others, like Francesco Moser, this GP Liberazione is a big Communist plot. Zalf and Viris-Maserati will be there will full squads to challenge along with Colpack and many others.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dylan Groenewegen wins Ronde van Vlaanderen U23

Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen was able to better his 2nd place from last year and took the reduced group sprint to take the win at the 2014 Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 ahead of Norwegian Kristoffer Skjerping and Belgian Tiesj Benoot.

The race began with a 5 man breakaway quietly with a 5-man breakaway getting nearly a 6 minute gap before the peloton decided to start racing. Marc Soler (Spain), Jeremy Leveau (France), Mihkel Raim (Estonia), Tomasz Mickiewicz (Poland) and Ioannis Spanopoulos (Greece) plodded along for the first 100 kilometers while the peloton rubbed the sleep out of their eyes and got over the first few climbs without any major events. Following a crash by Tanzo Tokuda (Japan), which saw him drop out of the race, the peloton started to up the pace. In the breakaway, Spanopoulos lost contact and began his very long drift back towards the group. The peloton saw a few different attacks by some including Soren Kragh (Denmark) & David Per (Slovenia) as well as Mads Pedersen (Denmark) & Robin Carpenter (USA).

The next serious attack came by Maxat Ayazbayev (Kazakhstan) on the entrance to the finishing loop, which was 23 kilometers in length and was to be completed twice. Ayazbayev, who has been on great form this spring, went solo and spent a while in no man's land trying to get up to the remnants of the breakaway. While Ayazbayev chased, the breakaway tried to ups it pace on the loop which included a trio of climbs in the Steenbeekdries, the Taaienberg and the Eikenberg. Soler, in his first international race outside of Spain, fell away from the group and was quickly followed by Mickiewicz. Ayazbayev was joined by Soler but both were swept up by the peloton, whose buzzsaw was on overdrive by that point. Leveau and Raim continued on but early in the final finishing loop, they were briefly joined by an attacking Jens Wallays before being picked up by the peloton. Robert Jon-McCarthy and Ruben Zepuntke both flatted on the incoming to the final loop and dropped out of contention.

Heading over the final three climbs, riders began to be shot out the back as the buzzsaw of Flemish bergs was in full effect. By the summit of the Eikenberg, the lead group was only at 25 riders and on the ride into Oudenaarde, Daan Myngheer (Belgium) and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Great Britain) attacked and got a gap of nearly 10 seconds but they were unable to hold to gap and the reduced front group came back together for the final sprint. Mike Teunissen did another brilliant lead-out, this time for Groenewegen, and propelled his national teammate to victory in the final sprint ahead of Kristoffer Skjerping (Norway) and Tiesj Benoot (Belgium). Owain Doull (Great Britain), who was the winner of Triptyque Monts et Chateaux, finished 4th while Teunissen grabbed with. There was a crash in the final sprint but the details, as of this time, are still unclear. Coming in 18 seconds down, Jan Dieteren (Germany) lead home the chasing group.

According to post race comments on directvelo, the sprint was a bit chaotic. Skjerping launched his sprint too early with 400 meters to go and with 200 meters he had to get back down in the saddle and that is when Groenewegen went around him. Benoot had a similar story about launching too early but he doesn't have the same speed as Groenewegen on a flat course. As of now, I know that Ryan Eastman (USA) and Dieter Bouvry & Bert Vanlerberghe (Belgium) were involved in the crash that occurred in the final sprint with roughly 200 meters to go.

Andrea Zordan started the pro Ronde van Vlaanderen last week and promptly DNFed it, just like the vast majority of the races he has done with Androni so far this year. He finished a fabulous 75th, many minutes down.

If anyone has any more information regarding the crash or about the race from other language sources, feel free to tweet me @Vlaanderen90 or leave a comment.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 Preview

So a 6 days after the professional men and women got to duke it out of the best that Flanders had to offer, it is the U23 men's turn to ride across the stone-covered roads in search of glory. While their race is 94 kilometers shorter than the pro men edition this year, the U23 men will still have to contend with 14 cobbled climbs including twice around a loop that includes the Steenbeekdries-Taaienberg-Eikenberg right in a row.

The race finished in a reduced bunch sprint last year, where Rick Zabel beat Dylan Groenewegen and a surprise Magnus Cort, and the big question is if it will come down to a sprint one again. Before last year's course redesign, the U23 race followed the tradition of the men's race where a rider or very small group would go to the finish and it would be decided in either a solo break or a little sprint. Last year's bunch gallop came about because of some ill-timed mechanicals as well as no one being quite strong enough to stay away from the combined effort of teams banking on a sprint. Belgium tried their best to get Stuyven away for the win but it wasn't to be. You can bet the home team will be wanting to get the glory again this year.

The Course

Full course, turn by turn.

The course will feature 165.7 kilometers of cobbles, wind and hilly terrain reeking of cow shit. Unlike the professional men, there really is no 100 kilometer flat section that deadens the legs because the first climb, the Kluisberg, comes in just 20 kilometers into the race. The race will then dip into Wallonie for a brief second to Mont de l'Enclus, which featured in Triptyque Monts et Chateaux. 8 kilometers later, the Knokteberg will be summited quickly followed by the Muziekbos and the Pottelberg.

The race kicks off in earnest on the Valkenberg, which starts off at 77 kilometers to go. After another climb, the cobbled Molenberg at 60 kilometers to go will kick off the heavy cobbles, which will feature prominently the rest of the race. Following the Molenberg is the Kerkgate, which is a 3000 meter section of cobbled that is quite jarring from experience and are not the flattest section from my memory. Rough times. After more cobbles on the Kattenberg, the race enters into Oudenaarde and begins the two city loops featuring the Steenbeekdries, Taaienberg and Eikenberg. Within 8 kilometers, the race will go over all three times and then hit the Kattenberg cobbles again through Ename before doing the 23 kilometer loops again. After doing the climbs once again, the race will just have another 8 kilometers before heading back into Oudenaarde for the finale.

How will it play out?

Now that is up to the racers. Last year, Alexis Gougeard went out on an all-day escape and was the main impetus for the majority of the race. Last year's course was hard but there was no rider that was able to lead a breakaway without eliciting a strong reaction from the chasing group. I could see a breakaway with 1 to 4 riders making it to the line or I could see some negative racing with teams trying to keep it together for a sprint and a bunch sprint for the finale.

The Contenders

Well let's see what we can come up with here...

Full startlist can be found here courtesy of Flanders Classics. Due note there are some scratches on the list as of now.

-Magnus Cort was leading out Kristian Haugaard here last year and when Haugaard wasn't able to come around him, Cort held on for 3rd place on his own. Then he went on a complete tear for the last 11 months. He is a big favorite to break away on the final climbs or win a small sprint with a reduced peloton. Probably my pick for the win.

-Ignazio Moser has been seen as the next Italian classics man for some time now but it is put up or shut up time for the son of Francesco and he will need to deliver on Saturday. The Italians will have a good team with Liam Bertazzo and Paolo Simion, amongst others, and have options for a breakaway or sprint.

-Owain Doull has been on fire as of late and his Triptyque win was a big exclamation point. Doull has ability to use his pursuiting skills to time trial away from people as well as sprint amongst the best in the U23 class.

-Tanner Putt finished in the front group at the Volta Limburg Classic and was also the youth classification winner at the Volta ao Alentejo. His USA team will be rather strong with some young blood coming in along with some experienced riders.

-Tiesj Benoot was on form at Triptyque Monts et Chateaux with two 2nd place finishes as well as being a player in the final stage breakaway, where he ended up 7th. Benoot is a strong favorite alongside Dieter Bouvry, U23 RR Champ Jens Wallays and Bert Van Lerberghe.

-Sondre Holst Enger hasn't raced much this year and he really only has one results, a 3rd place on a stage in Normandie, but he is very dangerous and I wouldn't turn a blind eye to him. I have been informed that Enger will be out for RvV because of illness and will be replaced by Daniel Hoelgaard (Etixx). Norway will probably be led by Sven Erik Bystrom, who was on strong form in Volta ao Alentejo, and Kristoffer Skjerping, who was strong in Normandie and would be a good option for a sprint.

-Dylan Groenewegen will be looking to improve on his 2nd place from last year but will most likely be banking on a sprint. The Dutch will also have Mike Teunissen, who will be a good asset in the attacks later in the race.

-Ruben Zepuntke will lead the German charge into Belgium under DS Ralf Grabsch with Jan Dieteren there if it comes down to a sprint.

I'll do an updated preview when I can get a full start list but it looks like it is going to be a thrown-down in Oudenaarde come Saturday.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Weekend Review: Mulhberger wins Piva Banca; Oram 2nd overall in Redlands

While there was a huge amount of U23s racing in Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux this weekend, that was not the only racing going on by any means. There was racing across every which pond and with spring finally sprung, many are finally peaking for their spring objectives.

Mühlberger climbs to Trofeo Piva Banca win

Repeating last year's breakaway outcome, the 66th edition of the Trofeo Piva Banca also came down to a breakaway deciding the winner while the peloton sprinted it out for the lower placings. The race, taking place in Col San Martino in Treviso, featured a hilly circuit that acted as a buzzsaw; slowly trimming down the peloton until a breakaway got away to decide the race.

The race was marked by a two man breakaway including Gianni Moscon and Luca Chirico, who spent the majority of the day out front, but they were never endangering the favorites. The circuit featured a big climb, the Col San Martino, and that is where the race was decided as 1st year Australian Robert Power attacked on the slopes of the climb and drew out Austrian Gregor Mühlberger (Tirol), Alexander Foliforov (Helicopters), Manuele Senni (Colpack) and Felix Großschartner (Gourmetfein). The early breakaway duo was not able to hang onto their wheels for long. In the finale, it was Power who was taking the initiative on the climb and attacked his breakaway companions but it all came back together for the final sprint where Mühlberger took it ahead of Foliforov and Power. Behind, it was Caleb Ewan (Australia) who took the sprint for 6th ahead of Michele Scartezzini (Astana) and Marco Chianese (Pala Fenice). Ewan, who was beaten by Jakub Mareczko last weekend, has not gotten a chance to properly face the Italian sprinters yet but he did show off his climbing chops by getting 6th here as he was also 8th here a year ago.

Mühlberger continued a strong spring campaign that has included a prologue win and 4th place overall at the Istrian Spring Trophy and now this impressive win. Power, who was in his first European race as a U23, put on quite a display and he should be making waves later this year and in years to come. Luka Pibernik? Not so much. The Slovenian who is down to join Lampre as a stagiaire later this year and full-time in 2015 finished way down in 34th place nearly 7 minutes off the pace of Mühlberger. His season hasn't been bad but not exactly a pro level.

Oram finishes 2nd overall in Redlands Classic

Kiwi James Oram (Bissell) attacked on the Sunset Loop stage of the Redlands Classic with Joey Rosskopf (Hincapie Development) to try and get the overall lead from Travis McCabe (Smartstop). The duo worked well together and they were able to pull of the coup on the young Arizonan with Rosskopf taking the overall win and Oram 2nd overall along with the best young rider. On the final stage, young riders that made the front group included ex-Garmin Jacob Rathe (Jelly Belly), Mexican Eder Frayre, Kiwi Dion Smith and Ty Magner (Hincapie Development), Daniel Eaton (Canyon Bicycles-Shimano), Torey Philipp (Cal Giant) Clement Chevrier (Bissell) and junior wunderkind Adrien Costa (Hagens Berman U23).

While Oram finished 2nd, Dion Smith finished 6th overall, which capped off a successful week that included a stage win, while Daniel Eaton finished 8th overall, which is his 5th top 10 GC overall already this year. Eaton is headed to Europe for a few months this summer and he will be one to watch. Also, if you are not aware of Adrien Costa then make yourself aware. The Hagens Berman rider is just 17 years old but his talent is on an unreal level. He has won 5 races already this year and finished 19th overall in Redlands, which is incredible for a first year junior going up against most of the American pro peloton. If he can keep progressing at this rate, he is the future for American cycling.


-Nicolas Marini did not win...2 races in the weekend. Zalf-Euromobil Marini, who has had the golden touch so far this year, won his 6th race of the year (out of 8 starts) at Saturday's Milano Busseto by coming out of the final corner with about 200 meters to go and promptly hitting the jets to blow by the late attacker Davide Martinelli, who hung on for 2nd, and his  Through just 1.5 months of racing, Marini is on track to go after Andrea Guardini's record for wins by a U23 in a season, which stands at 19, and it looks like a doable feat once he starts to race more frequently. While Marini was absent from racing on Sunday, Zalf-Euromobil was not. While they only managed 9th in Trofeo Piva with Giacomo Berlato, the team was able to take the top four placings at Coppa Caduti di Reda with Albanian Eugert Zhupa taking his 1st win of the year, the 10th for Zalf-Euromobil, in a solo breakaway ahead of a group of 10 riders that included four Zalf-Euromobil riders. 32 seconds after Zhupa crossed the line, Daniele Cavasin crossed the line ahead of Davide Gomirato and Gianluca Milani. So while they didn't dominate the UCI race, they did take the 2 other races they were focusing on during the weekend.

-Boucle de l'Artois took a step back from being a UCI stage race this year but it was still an important date on the French national calendar as it was the 3rd stop on the Coupe de France DN1 calendar. Saturday included 2 split stages including a morning TT and afternoon road stage. Some Nuns won the first TT stage...well Thibault Nuns of Océane U. He took out the 23 kilometer time trial by 4 seconds over Nico Denz (Chambery CF) and 5 seconds over TT stud Bruno Armirail (Armée de Terre). UC Nantes has a family reunion on the afternoon stage when Lorenzo Manzin from tiny Reunion Island won the mass bunch sprint ahead of teammate Fabien Schmidt and Jeremy Lecroq (CC Nogent-sur-Oise). Sunday's stage ended up being decided by a small non-threatening GC breakaway while Nuns, Denz, Armirail and others high on GC like Thomas Boudat were just behind them. It was Australian transplant Nick Schultz (CR4C Roanne) who won a tight sprint ahead of experience Benoit Daeninck (CC Nogent) with Hugo Hofstetter in 3rd. The yellow jersey group came in 12 seconds down with no changes on GC which allowed Nuns and his Océane U team to take the GC overall with Denz and Armirail in 2nd and 3rd.

One thing that is interesting about the Coupe de France classification for the amateur rankings is that while individual performances are good, it is the team rankings that are important for teams and having multiple riders that can score points is sometimes better than having one rider get the win and no one else get in the points. Let's use Boucle de l'Artois as an example. Océane U, with Nuns win, got a total of 60 points over the weekend but Vendée U, who put 5 riders in the top 10 of the final stage as well as the overall, amassed 107 points. So smaller teams that don't have a team roster have to try and find points anywhere they can while big teams with deep rosters like Armée de Terre, Vendée U and UC Nantes just vacuum up points.

-Cristian Cañada, the stunning climber with Mutua Levante, won the Memorial Valenciaga, the Copa de España's 5th round. Cañada won a three-up sprint ahead of Alberto Gallego Ruiz (Extremadura) and Antton Ibarguren (Tel'com). Cañada, who won the Subida al Gorla hillclimb last year, has been on good form this spring and is hoping to secure a professional contract. He only started focusing on the road seriously a couple of years ago after initially focusing on MTB. Lizarte had their best performance of the year so far in the Copa de España by going 4th, 5th and 7th, which included U23 Marc Soler. Unai Intziarte (Gipuzkoa) finished 15th and was able to hold onto his lead in the classification by 33 points over Sergio Miguez and 65 points on Ibarguren. The next round of the Copa de España will not be until April 27 at the Memorial Rodríguez Inguanzo.