I'm sure many of you might be struggling with your FSA DS rosters at the moment, especially with some of those pesky 1-2 point riders. As painful and frustrating as it was for people who had Peter Velits (74 points at a cost of 10) or Glorious Heinrich Haussler (290 points at 12 points) last year, you can mitigate some of that pain by making a sweet 1 or 2 points pick. The focus here is on newbies...guys that are wet behind the ears still in the sink or swim world that is cycling. There will be a breakdown of newbies from the past and then 5 (or so) guys that I'll
Now, let's do this...
To just make this blatantly clear...any success I have at FSA DS is pretty much limited to young riders. I did a U-26 team in 2010 with mild success (123rd out of 446...nothing spectacular but I was satisfied) but for some reason, I decided not to last year...and I got creamed. Like 601st out of 682 bad. Anyways, that won't be happening again since I'm going back to the U-26 route. Anyways, I'm getting distracted.
Last year was a huge year for newbies...Marcel Kittel (923 points), John Degenkolb (477 at 2 pts.), Michael Matthews (300 at 2 pts.) were some of the names that came out. There also was Giacomo Nizzolo (395), Pim Ligthart (370), Alex Dowsett (365) and Jesse Sergent (330). Hell, even Leo König, Navardauskus and Michal Kwiatkowski all scored over 200 pts. in their rookie sessions...so how does this year stack up?
Here are 5 on my radar (that are in no specific order by the way)...
1. Andy Fenn (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
The 20-year old Brit at OPQS has all ready turned heads at his first few races this year and barring injury, he shouldn't be slowing down at all. Just look at these videos from Trofeo Palma and Trofeo Migjorn. Gerald Ciolek said that Fenn was turning the pedals over smoothly at Tour Down Under, which should be quite a compliment in your first WT race. He has quite the sprint on him. Now he will be Boonen's lacky at some races but there are small Belgian classics where Fenn can shine. Winner of the junior Paris-Roubaix in '08 (over a one, Peter Sagan) and 3rd last year at the U-23 Worlds, he could pick up some nice results this year.
2. Rüdiger Selig (Katusha)
Selig made his presence felt last year with some big rides at ProRace Berlin (4th), U23 World (4th), 8th place overall at Circuit Franco-Belge and then a big win at the Franck VDB Memorial. Passed over by Leopard-Trek, Katusha jumped on him with Erik Zabel's signing as a coach not hurting things. He made the big split on Stage 3 of the Tour of Qatar and got 7th place in the sprint after having some terrible position coming into the sprint. With the results he all ready showed against WT racers last year and with some open air at Katusha, there is a chance for him.
3. Salvatore Puccio (SKY)
Puccio had a big year last year on the U23 scene with wins in the U23 Ronde van Vlaanderen and a stage in the Toscana -Terra Di Ciclismo along with high stage finishes in the Baby Giro. All ready with a strong ride at the hily Trofeo Inca, I think that Puccio will be a dark horse for SKY in some races, especially if they get any invites to some smaller Italian classics.
4. Enrico Battaglin (Colnago-CSF Inox)
After 2 big years on the U23 circuit, Battaglin is moving up to the Pro Conti team that he stagiaired for last year. His crowning achievement last year was winning the Coppa Sabatini, beating...wait for it...Davide Rebbelin, Dani Moreno, Giovanni Visconti and Simon Gerrans in the sprint from the breakaway. *Jaw meet floor...floor, jaw* So the kid has shown what kind of talent he has. He will be sticking to Italian soil for the majority of the year so some results in the smaller Italian classics will be expected and maybe some bigger ones.
5. Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale)
Bardet was one of the stars last year on the U23 circuit with lots of high finishes in hilly races. 2nd in U23 LBL, 2 stage wins in Tour des Pays de Savoie, mountain stage in the Tour de l'Avenir and some high finishes at the hilly Tour de l'Ain. He showed some early strength with making the break at GP Marseillaise and should make his presence felt in the hills over the course of this year, stage races and one-day races alike.
Well that is my five...there are some very big notable omissions on this list that I know will be mentioned in the comments but I don't wanna talk about them until after the 25th :P