Tour de l'Avenir 2012: Recap and Preview and Livethread

It's Tour Time...not that race going all the way around France but a race for guys that will be racing it in the coming years. The Tour de l'Avenir kicked off on Sunday and it is the preeminent U23 stage race that showcases some of the brightest young talent in the cycling world. Culminating Sunday, the overall winner of this race will have extra pressure added to his shoulders after vanquishing this crowning achievement.

Since 2007, since the race reverted to a U23 format, the overall standings are filled with talent, both of which turned out to be gems and some of which fizzled out. The last 5 editions have had winners such as Bauke Mollema and Nairo Quintana along with guys on the podium such as Tony Martin (2nd '07), Rui Costa (2nd '08) and Tejay van Garderen (2nd '09). There are also guys that have been on the podium that have not reached their high potential such as Sergej Fuchs (3rd '09), Andre Steensen (3rd '07) and most recently, Romain Sicard, the winner of the '09 edition, though he has dealt with a large amount of injury during his short pro career. L'Avenir stage winners can also feel these effects. Remember Yannick Eijssen? He has been struggling with BMC for nearly two years after jumping from the U23 ranks after impressive climbing, including a stage win at l'Avenir on the Col du Béal. There are guys such as Andreas Stauff (recently revived career), Oleg Opryshko (retired), Dmitry Kosyakov (Itera-Katusha) and Ricardo van der Velde (Jelly Belly) that were stage winners at l'Avenir who have not been able to reach the heights they possibly thought they could. Cycling is a cruel mistress.

On the flip, a recap of the first few stages and a preview for the mountains that lay ahead, which will be happening near the kingdom of Willj

Prologue: Dôle-Dôle, 3.5 kilometers "Australian Top Banana"

Jay McCarthy (Australia/Jayco-AIS) took out Sunday's prologue in the town of Dôle, nestled in the Jura department in Franche-Comté, over Olympic Omnium champion Lasse Norman Hansen by less than a second. The former junior World RR silver medalist McCarthy rode a blistering 49.6 kph through the technical city circuit and while he was one of the favorites, he has his eyes set on overall ambitions for later in the week. Hansen's 2nd place surprised no one given his Olympic exploits. The German team did well by putting 3 in the top ten with Jakob Steigmiller at 1", Nikias Arndt at 4" seconds and Jasha Sütterlin at 5", with the course being too technical for the big German powerhouse to lay down the power. The Dutch put Moreno Hofland and Danny van Poppel (Jean-Paul's offspring) 4th and 5th.

1 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Australia 0:04:15
2 Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Denmark 0:00:01
3 Jakob Steigmiller (Ger) Germany 0:00:02
4 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Netherlands
5 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Netherlands
6 Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Austria
7 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Germany 0:00:05
8 Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Mixed
9 Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Germany 0:00:06
10 Tim Wellens (Bel) Belgium


Other Favorites

12 Bob Jungels (Lux) Luxembourg +7"

36 Daan Olivier (Ned) Netherlands +13"

37 Warren Barguil (Fra) France +13"

46 Gianfranco Zilioli (Ita) Italy +14"

86 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Italy +20"

98 Ian Boswell (USA) USA +23"

Stage 1: Dole to Belleville-sur-Saône 172.4km "Belleville Rendez-vous"

A four man breakaway, originally apart of the 6 man all-day break, held on over the final climb, la Côte less than 25km to Belleville-sur-Saône and were able to take nearly a minute on the peloton with Swiss rider Silvan Dillier taking the honors over Davide Villella (Italy), Klemen Stimulak (Slovenia) and Sven Erik Bystrøm (Norway). Arguably the fastest sprinter in the race, Dutchman Wouter Wippert (stagiaire at Lotto-Belisol) took the bunch sprint for 5th over Jan Sokol (Austria) and Nikias Arndt (Germany). No big names were dropped.

1 Silvan Dillier (Swi) Switzerland 4:07:55
2 Davide Villella (Ita) Italy
3 Klemen Stimulak (Slo) Slovenia
4 Sven Erik Bystrom (Nor) Norway
5 Wouter Wippert (Ned) Netherlands 0:00:58
6 Jan Sokol (Aut) Austria
7 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Germany
8 Arman Kamyshev (Kaz) Kazakhstan


1 Silvan Dillier (Swi) Switzerland 4:12:18
2 Davide Villella (Ita) Italy 0:00:01
3 Sven Erik Bystrom (Nor) Norway 0:00:07
4 Klemen Stimulak (Slo) Slovenia 0:00:30
5 Jay Mccarthy (Aus) Australia 0:00:49
6 Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Denmark 0:00:50
7 Jakob Steigmiller (Ger) Germany 0:00:51
8 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Netherlands

Stage 2: Le Parc de Oiseaux to Châtillion-sur-Chalaronne 139.8km "Dutch Mania"

On the flattest day of the Tour and the only full-blown bunch sprint, the Dutch took full advantage by sweeping the podium. Moreno Hofland repeating his stage winning exploits of last year by taking top honors over teammates Danny van Poppel and Wouter Wippert with German Michael Koch and Austrian Jan Sokol rounding out the top 5. The day was dominated by a 3 man breakaway including Eduardo Sepulveda (UCI Mixed/Argentina), Nikita Umerbekov (Kazakhstan) and Jan Tratnik (Slovenia). The three were able to last from kilometer 22 until kilometer 137, when they were swept up for the inevitable sprint. The Swiss team worked well for the leader Dillier though there were crashes in the final 3km that brought down many including Gianfranco Zilioli, Hugo Salazar (Colombia) and Lasse Norman Hansen among others.

1 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Netherlands 3:03:38
2 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Netherlands
3 Wouter Wippert (Ned) Netherlands
4 Michael Koch (Ger) Germany
5 Jan Sokol (Aut) Austria
6 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Germany
7 Andris Smirnovs (Lat) Latvia
8 Filip Eidshiem (Nor) Norway

1 Silvan Dillier (Sui) Switzerland 7:15:56
2 Davide Villella (Ita) Italy 0:00:01
3 Sven Erik Bystrom (Nor) Norway 0:00:07
4 Klemen Stimulak (Slo) Slovenia 0:00:30
5 Jay Mccarthy (Aus) Australia 0:00:49
6 Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Denmark 0:00:50
7 Jakob Steigmiller (Ger) Germany 0:00:51
8 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Netherlands

Stage 3: Pont-d'Ain to Annemasse "Jungels gains The Time"

Deep in the heart of Texas Willj country, the U23 boys started to get antsy before the Télégraphe on Thursday and attacks were flying. A five man move containing gs' young love Jasper Stuyven (Belgium), Nate Wilson (USA), August Jensen (Norway), Fernando Orjuela (Colombia) and Daniil Fominykh (Kazakhstan) were away for most of the day. After the Cote de Frangy with about 40 kilometers to go, things began to fall apart for our breakaway in the rain and wind. With the remnants of the break being pulled back, Lukas Pöstlberger (Austria) attacked solo with with about 30km to go and quickly gained time. Sensing an opportunity, wünderkind Bob Jungels (Luxembourg) and Vegard Breen (Norway) attacked in tandem (not the first time that has happened) and caught Pöstlberger with 18 kilometers to go, with Jungels burying himself to gain times before the big mountain day. France and the Netherlands quickly joined the Swiss at the front of the peloton, trying to pull back time for Warren Barguil and Daan Olivier, respectively. Even though he was the initial attacker, Pöstlberger had enough left at the end to out sprint Breen and Jungels with Danny van Poppel leading the peloton over the line, 29 seconds in arrears. Lasse Norman Hansen, along with 3 others, pulled out of the race.

1 Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Austria 3:23:51
2 Vegard Breen (Nor) Norway
3 Bob Jungels (Lux) Luxembourg
4 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Netherlands 0:00:29
5 Angelo Tulik (Fra) France
6 Jan Polanc (Slo) Slovenia
7 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Kazakhstan
8 Asbjorn Andersen Kragh (Den) Denmark

1 Silvan Dillier (Swi) Switzerland 10:40:16
2 Davide Villella (Ita) Italy 0:00:01
3 Sven Erik Bystrom (Nor) Norway 0:00:07
4 Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Austria 0:00:22
5 Bob Jungels (Lux) Luxembourg 0:00:27
6 Klemen Stimulak (Slo) Slovenia 0:00:30
7 Vegard Breen (Nor) Norway 0:00:37
8 Jay Mccarthy (Aus) Australia 0:00:49

Stage 4 Seyssel to Valloire 155.5km

Thursday is the day to head up to the ski haven of Valloire via the Col du Télégraphe. The Télégraphe is used in Le Tour when the race passes over the col du Galibier from the east. While it is not a huge mountain pass, it is nothing to scoff at and many a rider will be put into the hurt box. After the ascent of the Télégraphe, there will be a short descent into Valloire of about 3.5km which will decide the winner.



Vlaanderen's pick who will probably not win: Alexey 'Pet Food' Lutsenko

Stage 5 Valloire to Les Saisies 130.6km

Moar Mountains!! Some editions of l'Avenir have lacked in the uphill department but not this one. On Friday, the riders will be heading out of Valloire, back up the bit of the Télégraphe they descended and then a long descent before they hit one of the beats of the Alps, le Col de la Madeleine. The riders will duke it out for nearly 25km of climbing before taking another long descent down to Albertville, where they will begin a gradual rise to the uphill finish at the ski resort of Les Saisies in Savoie at 1615 meters.



Vlaanderen's pick who will probably not succeed: Sergey Chernetski (Russia)

Stage 6 Beaufort to Le Grand Bornand 82.8km

Philippe Colliou, the organizer of the Tour de l'Avenir, was not messing around with the mountains this year and the final stage shows it, with 4 categorized climbs packed into 82 kilometers of action packed racing. Just 14km into the race, the bunch will ascend the Col de la Forclaz. At the top, they will begin descending to Ugine and beginning their ascent of the Col des Aravis, though they will see that PdC's own U-23 will already have beaten them. With a quick descent following the Aravis, they will quickly climb the backside of the Col de la Croix Fry. Following another descent, this time into Thônes, they will make the gradual 20km slog up to Le Grand Bornand.



Vlaanderen's pick who will probably not succeed: Warren Barguil

It looks like a really fun route, which just begs one question...


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