FanPost

Tour de l'Avenir 2011 Superthread

For a large group of young hopefuls, the race that is occurring this week is perhaps the biggest one of their season...well maybe. The Tour de l'Avenir has been the amateur stage race (though it has been professional in the past) since its inception in 1961 though sometimes it isn't the best predictor of talent, for how vaunted it is by the cycling press. There are definitely harder U23 stage races but with a mix of a world class field of younglings and a race set-up that is geared towards action packed finales and breakaways galore, it is definitely exciting and full of surprises...now only if we could see it live...

On the flip, you shall get a brief history, startlist, a quick who's who and stage breakdowns that will be updated with stage results daily!

Now...GET ON WITH IT!

Background

So in 1961, the editor of L'Equipe started this race to try and showcase some of the Soviet/Communist talent because as they were strictly "amateur", they weren't allowed into the Tour. Through the early years, many greats made a name for themselves here including Janssen, Gimondi, Zoetemelk, Baronchelli, etc. while it was still an all amateur event. It was even a 12-14 stage race at its peak...fast forward to 1978 & '79 and the Soviet machine was at the height of its powers, with the legendary Sergei Soukoroutchenkov (luckily P&P never had to struggle with that name) winning the overall 2 times in a row; in '78, the communists won 12 stages including every jersey and the top 4 spots on G.C....in '79, more of the same with 7 stage wins and all of the jerseys...Soukoroutchenkov utterly embarrassed the field.

1981 saw the race turn professional but it was still a big showcase of youth talent...example being Lemond in 1982. He won a mountain stage (only 130km, it should be said) by 5 and a half minutes! Beating men like Robert Millar, Lucho Herrera, etc. Lemond went on to win the overall by over 10 minutes...the race continued on as a mix of professional and national teams with men like Indurain, Olaf Ludwig, Abdoujaparov, Erik Dekker, Zabel, etc. coming into the fore as men to watch. Continuing through the 90's and 2000's, the quality of the race seemed to have dimmed a bit with notable names like Menchov winning the overall but the race became dominated by more professional riders (the race had a U-26 age restriction) than young talent so in 2007, a change back to national teams and a U-23 age limit was made and it has returned the race to the fore.

Startlist

Something that I really like about U23 racing, including here at l'Avenir, is the smaller teams...with only 6 guys to a team, it definitely limits teams that are wanting to control the pack which leads to a large amount of small breakaways getting away to the line and a relative lack of bunch sprints. They did screw it up in '09 when there was a France A and B squad, so when Romain Sicard got the jersey, he had 11 guys working for him against the field

Who's Who

Colombia: Nairo Quintana is the defending champion; rest of the team is a bunch of climbers

USA: Joe Dombrowski is one of the best climbers in the race and overall contender with Ian Boswell, Larry Warbasse and Rob Squire to be right there; Rob Bush will fight out for any sprints

Netherlands: With Keldermann out, Tom Dumoulin is the G.C. threat; Moreno Hofland, Raymond Kreder and Wouter Wippert for the sprints; Ramon Sinkledam for a breakaway

France: Romain Bardet for G.C. with Warren Barguil for help in the hills, Rudy Molard for breaks

Italy: Mattia Cattaneo (Baby Giro winner) should be going for G.C./mountain stages;

Denmark: Rasmum Guldhammer for some breaks; Christopher Juul-Jensen and Sebastian Lander for G.C./stages

Belgium: Tim Wellens and Tim De Clercq for G.C./climbs; Tosh Van der Sande for sprints; Zico Waeytens (such an awesome name) for a dangerous breakaway

Kazakhstan: Arman Kamyshev for G.C....that's about all I know about them

Germany: Niklas Arndt and Rüdiger Selig for sprints; Julian Kern for breakaways

G.B: Luke Rowe for the sprints and all-arounds

Austria: George Priedler for G.C.

Spain: Garikoitz Bravo, Hairitz Orbe and Victor Cabedo all for stages...doubt they will do much overall

Mixed team! (one of my favorites): Natnael Berhane (Eritrea) and Tsgabu Gebremaryam Grmay (Ethiopia...please turn pro to screw with announcers!) for G.C./mountains

Norway: Deuling Vegard's...Vegard Stake Laengen and Vegard Robinson Bugge; both should be in the hunt for a stage with Laengen being able to climb decently...Filip Eidsheim for sprints

Canada: David Boily for G.C./breaks...Guillaume Boivin and Hugo Houle for sprints

Switzer-land: Uhhh...don't look at me

Aussie: Dennis and Hepburn all ready torched the prologue...Dennis should go for a decently high G.C. place, Patrick Lane and Richie Lang should contend in the hillier stages

Czechs: Jakub Novak for G.C./breakaways

COURSE

Prologue was dead flat...No really, there was maybe a foot or two of elevation gain over 6.6km course

1 Michael Hepburn (Aus) Australien 0:07:13
2 Rohan Dennis (Aus) Australien 0:00:04
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Niederlande 0:00:18
4 Jakub Novak (Cze) Tschechien 0:00:22
5 Hugo Houle (Can) Kanada
6 Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Dänemark 0:00:26
7 Dimitri Le Boulch (Fra) Frankreich 0:00:27
8 Matthias Allegaert (Bel) Belgien 0:00:28
9 David Boily (Can) Kanada
10 Luke Rowe (GBr) Großbritannien 0:00:29

Hepburn, along with Dennis is apart of the Australian pursuit WC team, stormed the course at over 55 km/h. Dumoulin put in a great performance to cement himself a good G.C. spot before the hills

Stage 1 (160km) had a few lumps but nothing much to speak of in terms of hills except for a few Cat 4s but with the small team numbers, a break of 7 slipped away, including heavy G.C. favorites Bardet and Priedler (who lost 4 seconds at the end), and took it to the line with the peloton coming in 26 seconds in arrears

1 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Niederlande 4:12:05
2 Romain Bardet (Fra) Frankreich
3 Matteo Mammini (Ita) Italien
4 Arman Kamyshev (Kaz) Kasachstan
5 David Boily (Can) Kanada
6 Rohan Dennis (Aus) Australien
7 Georg Preidler (AUT) Österreich 0:00:04
8 Wouter Wippert (Ned) Niederlande 0:00:26
9 Nikias Arndt (GER) Deutschland
10 Marco Haller (AUT) Österreich

With Dennis getting into the break, he took over the overall from teammate Hepburn

OVERALL

1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) Australien 4:19:22
2 Michael Hepburn (Aus) Australien 0:00:22
3 David Boily (Can) Kanada 0:00:24
4 Georg Preidler (AUT) Österreich 0:00:35
5 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Niederlande
6 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Niederlande 0:00:40
7 Jakub Novak (Cze) Tschechien 0:00:44
8 Hugo Houle (Can) Kanada
9 Romain Bardet (Fra) Frankreich 0:00:46
10 Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Dänemark 0:00:48

Stage 2 (151 km) is another undulating affair filled with French flat...the stage is front loaded with 4 categorized climbs but the last 70 km are mostly downhill though there are plenty of chances for a break to slip away

Prediction: smaller bunch sprint

Well I was close...sort of, not really. A group of 3 got away early including Garikoitz Bravo (Spain), Marco Haller (Austria) and Sjoerd Kouwenhoven (Nederlands). They built up a lead of 9 minutes and Bravo took the KOM points on offer today and will be wearing the jersey tomorrow. The 3 were caught with 2k to go by a charging bunch and the Dutch were absolutely on fire today with Wippert getting the stage over Hofland and Kreder just missing the trifecta in 4th...they had all 6 finish in the top 40

Stage:

1   Wouter WIPPERT                 PAYS-BAS           03:51:29  
2   Moreno HOFLAND                 PAYS-BAS           00:00:00  
3   Filippo FORTIN                 ITALIE             00:00:00  
4   Raymond KREDER                 PAYS-BAS           00:00:00  
5   Jan KELLER                     SUISSE             00:00:00  
6   Tim DECLERCQ                   BELGIQUE           00:00:00  
7   Nikias ARNDT                   ALLEMAGNE          00:00:00  
8   Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS COLOMBIE           00:00:00  
9   Romain BARDET                  FRANCE             00:00:00  
10  Johan Esteban CHAVES           COLOMBIE           00:00:00  

G.C.

1   Rohan DENNIS                   AUSTRALIE          08:10:51  
2   David BOILY                    CANADA             00:00:24  
3   Georg PREIDLER                 AUTRICHE           00:00:35  
4   Moreno HOFLAND                 PAYS-BAS           00:00:35  
5   Tom DUMOULIN                   PAYS-BAS           00:00:40  
6   Jakub NOVAK                    REPUBLIQUE TCHEQUE 00:00:44  
7   Hugo HOULE                     CANADA             00:00:44  
8   Romain BARDET                  FRANCE             00:00:46  
9   Michael VALGREN ANDERSEN       DANEMARK           00:00:48  
10  Dimitri LE BOULCH              FRANCE             00:00:49 

Stage 3 (166 km) has the riders entering the Vosges mountains with a set of 5 categorized climbs including a Cat 1 climb 13km from the end (though it isn't that long or too terribly steep) should begin to shake up the G.C. contenders

Prediction: Selective sprint out of a 4-6 guys

1 Michael Hepburn (Aus) Australien 4:29:58
2 Jordi Simon (Esp) Spanien
3 Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Dänemark
4 Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Norwegen
5 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Italien
6 David Boily (Can) Kanada
7 Johan Esteban Chaves (Col) Kolumbien
8 Mark Christian (GBr) Großbritannien 0:00:54
9 Sebastian Salazar (Col) Kolumbien
10 Miras Bederbekov (Kaz) Kasachstan 0:00:55

G.C.

1 David Boily (Can) Kanada 12:41:13
2 Michael Hepburn (Aus) Australien 0:00:28
3 Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Dänemark 0:00:34
4 Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Norwegen 0:00:38
5 Jordi Simon (Esp) Spanien 0:00:41
6 Johan Esteban Chaves (Col) Kolumbien 0:00:45
7 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Italien 0:00:46
8 Mark Christian (GBr) Großbritannien 0:01:21
9 Georg Preidler (AUT) Österreich 0:01:29
10 Sebastian Salazar (Col) Kolumbien 0:01:31

So not to toot my own horn or anything but I was pretty on the mark with this one! :) I was sick as a dog while this was going on so that is why this is sooo late...G.C. with a few exceptions seems pretty well defined right now with the top 10 being the ones that will decide the overall

Stage 4 (153,5 km) is a breakaway delight with an undulating course all day along with 4 categorized climbs (2 3's and 2 2's) with a cat. 3 climb 8km from the finish

Prediction: breakaway with 1 G.C. guy

1 Nikias Arndt (GER) Deutschland 4:08:32
2 Romain Bardet (Fra) Frankreich
3 Simon Yates (GBr) Großbritannien
4 Raymond Kreder (Ned) Niederlande
5 Jordi Simon (Esp) Spanien
6 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Belgien
7 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Kasachstan
8 Asbjorn Kragh Andersen (Den) Dänemark
9 Patrick Konrad (AUT) Österreich
10 Johan Esteban Chaves (Col) Kolumbien

G.C.

1 David Boily (Can) Kanada 16:49:45
2 Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Dänemark 0:00:34
3 Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Norwegen 0:00:38
4 Jordi Simon (Esp) Spanien 0:00:41
5 Johan Esteban Chaves (Col) Kolumbien 0:00:45
6 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Italien 0:00:46
7 Mark Christian (GBr) Großbritannien 0:01:21
8 Georg Preidler (AUT) Österreich 0:01:29
9 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Niederlande 0:01:34
10 Dimitri Le Boulch (Fra) Frankreich 0:01:43

So I was wrong WAHHHH....a break didn't win the day, rather with a more select group finish with some fast men in there...Climbing specialists Garkoitz Bravo (Spain) and Tim Wellens (Belgie) fought it out over the first couple climbs for KOM points; Warbasse from USA and a Kazakh, Ishanov, then took off on a breakaway that lasted until the last climb of the day...the pace was high and it split the bunch up though not enough to get rid of fast guys like Arndt, Bardet, Kreder, etc.

Stage 5 (171,5 km) is the big day for the G.C. guys with 7 categorized climbs and a summit finish at Le Savele in Switzerland at 1252 meters (which seems puny compared with Colorado). It should be pretty straight up with the strongest climber solo-ing in for the win

Prediction: Solo win

Stage 6 (153,5 km) the race goes into Italy (which I don't seem to understand) in Fossano for a circuit around and through the city...the circuit has a Cat. 3 climb on it but I don't think it will do too much damage

Prediction: Smaller bunch sprint

Stage 7 (138,5 km) is a big circuit around the city of Alba with 7 categorized climbs...a nice chance for their to be a shake-up near the end of the race

Prediction: breakaway to the line with a couple of guys near the top of G.C. but they don't steal the win away

My overall take on the course is that it is par down compared to recent years, which has been pretty hilly and included a 2nd TT...this reminds me more of 2008 when Jan Bakelandts won with a long solo breakaway (after dropping Pete Stetina) and conserved his lead to the end. What baffles me is the jaunt into Italy and totally skipping over the Alps and having a real epic race turned into one that suits a more all-around rider who can breakaway on non-hilly days. I don't know if I am a fan or not of the course yet but it would have been nice to have seen another mountain day added

Results will be updated daily along with a brief description of the stage itself! :)

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