By David Hunter
The under 23 road race, sees a whole host of top names attempt to take home the gold medal. The race will be watched very closely, as it’s on the same course as the elite race. It’s shorter, at 182km, with 10 laps of the circuit. Out of the 18km lap, there is only 6km of flat. This flat section is all together, so it’s a very undulating course.Many people have had their say about the difficulty of the climbs. No, they are not the most difficult you’ll see, but taken at pace, 10 times, will severely reduce the peloton. Most of the countries have 5 or 6 riders, so it’s not the easiest race to control, but what type of race will we get?
Most teams won’t enjoy leading the peloton, so many teams will try for the break. The speed of each lap will increase, until the final 4 laps are completed, very quickly. Tactics and luck are very important. You’ve got to time your attack perfectly, and hope that no one chases. Or, hope that you get a small group detaching from the peloton, with all the main countries in attendance.
Coming from the Vuelta, are Meintjes and Kudus. Both can ride in the race, as they don’t race for World Tour teams. Both did well in 2013, with Meintjes 2nd and Kudus 15th. Having completed a grand tour, they should be a step above most, in terms of strength and fitness, but is the profile good for them?
Defending champion, Matej Mahoric, can’t compete, as he rides for Cannondale, but other big names are here: Caleb Ewan, Sondre Holst Enger, Dylan Teuns, Mathieu Van Der Poel, Robert Power, Alexander Foliforov, Stefan Kung, Ilya Davidenok, Thomas Boudat, Magnus Cort Nielsen, Miguel Angel Lopez and Pierre-Roger Latour. For those not up to date with these riders, I’ll take a moment to enlighten you!
Caleb Ewan – 20 year old Australian, about to join Orica GreenEdge. Super fast sprinter, but a great circuit racer. His tiny frame, allows him to travel uphill, fairly well. He was 4th, in 2013, and won the Aussie under 23 RR, at the beginning of the year. His season hasn’t been as good as 2013, but he did go very well in the Commonwealth Games. He also looked strong in the Ride London Classic, before blowing up, when trying to chase Gilbert up a hill. He’s brave!
Sondre Holst Enger – 3nd in 2013, and has just joined IAM Cycling. A very strong rider, who copes well with climbs. Has performed consistently well, in the Norwegian races, except the Arctic Tour, where he abandoned on stage 3. His recent form hasn’t been great.
Dylan Teuns – The new Gilbert! A very consistent season, with plenty of podium spots in the under 23 Classic races, but he really hit the headlines in the Tour of Britain. He was 3rd on stage 4 and finished 10th on GC. This was followed up with 6th place in GP Wallonie. Now rides with BMC and has a massive future.
Mathieu Van Der Poel – The kid who can do everything! He won the junior RR in 2013 and has twice won the junior Cyclo-cross World Championships. He can climb and sprint, he’s got the lot! Still not 100% focused, on the road, but an amazing athlete. This year, he won Ronde van Limburg, against Paul Martens and Greg Henderson! This kid is quick. He also won the Baltic Chain Tour, at the end of August.
Robert Power – What a star! Another super talented rider, and what a climber! He is ultra explosive and not many can stay with him. He is amazing in 1 day races, regularly winning in Italy. He was 2nd in the Tour de l’Avenir, and recently completed in Coppa Bernochi and Coppa Agostoni. In Bernocchi, Finetto attacked on the final climb. He was followed by Nibali, Pozzato and Power. The kid has balls! He will be a teammate of Ewan, so should have a great chance of attacking on the final climb.
Alexander Foliforov – 22 year old Russian, enjoyed a good 2013, but a great 2014. He was 4th in l’Avenir and won Ronde de l’Isard. Recent form, in Italy, hasn’t been great.
Stefan Kung – The new Cancellara! Swiss rider, who is reigning Euro under 23 ITT and RR champion. Was 3rd in the recent ITT and will look to ride hard, on this challenging circuit.
Ilya Davidenok – 22 year old, Kazak rider, who won a stage in l’Avenir. He has just stepped up to ride for Astana. Also competed in some of the recent Italian races, but was a DNF in both Pantani and Prato.
Thomas Boudat – Europcar bound, after a great season. Won ZLM tour and 2nd in La Cote Picarde. A good option for the French.
Magnus Cort Nielsen – Of all the riders, he’s had the best season. 9 stage wins and 2 GC victories. He’s been signed by Orica and is a future superstar of the sport. He is a fast sprinter, but has great climbing legs. Loves spiriting after a hard day in the saddle.
Miguel Angel Lopez – The brilliant Colombian climber, who won the Avenir GC. He’s now been signed by Astana, but would prefer a more mountainous route.
Pierre-Roger Latour – 20 year old Frenchman, who has signed a long contract with AG2R. He’s had a steady if unspectacular season, so far. He did finished 9th overall in the Tour de l’Ain.
The Italians have Filosi, 2nd in the Euros, but not in great form. Keep an eye out for Zurlo, who was 7th in Memorial Marco Pantani and will ride for UnitedHealthcare, in 2015.
My outsider is, Robin Carpenter. The 22 year old, American, took a wonderful win in the USA Pro Challenge. He is bound to attack and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Some teams will want a sprint, but not all. Ewan, Cort, Enger and Van Der Poel will all fancy beating each other. Cort will want to try and eliminate Ewan, somewhere along the route as the little Aussie is the fastest sprinter. The Australians will know this and will look to play the Power card! The race should be together, as we enter the final lap. Expect plenty of attacks, on the climbs, and I think the perfect time to go is just before the end of the final climb. Descend like a stone and take the win! If this happens, I see Robert Power winning, but if it’s a small sprint, it’s Cort Nielsen’s day.
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