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Allez-y, Les Jeunes - Part 2 (The coming French Hegemony?)

Bryn Lennon

So, I've become interested in the idea that French cycling is on its way back, and that the under-25 pro peleton is particularly rich in French riders. Last month I did some quick profiles of the riders who were born in 1990, and now it's time for an update on how the under-25 riders are doing plus profiles of the cohort that was born in 1991.

How are the under 25 riders (born in 1990 or later) doing in FSA-VDS terms? Well, there are three countries who each have one very strong rider (Slovakia, with Sagan at 880 FSA-VDS points; and Colombia with Quintana and Poland with Kwiatkowski, both at 377 points). Other one-rider shows include Sam Bennett with 150 for Ireland, Taylor Phinney at 100 for the U.S., Bob Jungels with 55 for Luxembourg, and Silvan Dillier at 50 for Switzerland. Three Brits (Fenn, Row and Thwaites) together have 250 points, and three Australians (Hepburn, Durbridge. and Dennis) together have 30 points. But for both breadth and depth, there are only four countries to consider: Italy (4 riders scoring), the Netherlands (5 riders), Belgium (10 riders scoring), and France (9 riders scoring). Here are the current standings:


Under-25 riders
(FSA-VDS)
VDS cost
VDS points
2013
VDS points
2 April 2014
VDS position
2 April 2014
France 25 90 4378 1442 707
Belgium 33 34 140 1090 827
Italy 25 52 1577 575 909
Netherlands 21 42 1386 460 914

One way to think about how important the rising class of under-25 riders is to their country's cycling strength (or perhaps the relative weakness of the older riders) is to consider what percentage of their country's VDS points were earned by the young riders. Young riders earned 19% of Italy's total, 22% of Belgium's total, 27% of the Netherlands' total, and 47% of France's total.

So who's been earning these points? Sonny Colbrelli has 430, most of Italy's total. Moreno Hofland leads the Netherlands contingent with 240. Tom Van Asbroeck (445) Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (265), and Yves Lampaert (175) are the top young Belgians.

Among the French riders who were born in 1990 and were profiled in part 1, Romain Bardet was a strong fourth in the Volta a Catalunya and is up to 380 points, Nacer Bouhanni (315 points) won stages of Paris-Nice and the Criterium International, and Johan le Bon (120 points) got third overall in the Driedaagse West Vlaanderen.

The French riders born in 1991 are just about as deep and as strong as the 1990 cohort, and three of them are more popular VDS choices than either Bardet or Bouhanni. Here they are:

Kenny Elissonde - FDJ since 2012
Image and video hosting by TinyPicBorn in Longjumeau, a suburb of Paris that is situated along a thalweg (a word that surely only geologists and geographers love?) and apparently grew too rapidly in the 60s and 70s; it is now in the throes of urban renewal. He started mountain biking at the age of 8, and shifted to the road later. At the age of 17, he won the French junior championship on a hilly course (a theme that will recur). As a 19-year-old, he joined the amateur club CC Étupes, which is based in the Jura region (hilly), and started placing well in U-23 races that feature climbing. He was seventh in the Tour of the Aosta Valley in 2010, then won a stage and the overall at the Ronde de L’Isard d’Ariège in 2011. FDJ picked him up as a stagiaire that year, and he was their top finisher in the Vuelta a Burgos, so they signed him for 2012 and he has ridden for them since. He has two wins as a pro: the second stage of Paris-Corrèze (in the Massif Central) in 2012, and, memorably, the Angliru stage of the Vuelta a España in 2013 after being part of an early breakaway.
Kenny is a pure climber.
22 July 1991; 1.69 m, 52 kg
2014 VDS price/points/teams: 2/0/114
2014 CQ ranking/points: 515/20
Best result so far this year: 21st overall, Tour of Oman and 12th on the Green Mountain stage.
@KennyElissonde (his choices of retweets are much more interesting than those of most cyclists)


Warren Barguil - Giant-Shimano since 2013
Image and video hosting by TinyPicBorn in Hennebont, near the coast of the Morbihan region of Brittany; the center of the city, which dates back to the fifth century, was pretty much destroyed by German artillery in the summer of 1944. Barguil started out as a BMX rider at age 7, and joined his father’s amateur road club at the age of 13. At the age of 18, he won the French junior road championship, and the following year, in 2011, he won a stage of the Tour de L’Avenir. In 2012 he joined the CC Étupes cycling club, which is coached by Julien Pinot (Thibaut’s brother) and draws many young cyclists who are climbers. That year he won the overall and one stage of the Tour de L’Avenir, and joined Argos-Shimano as a stagiaire. They signed him to his first pro contract in 2013, and when they designated him a protected rider for his first Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España, Barguil did not disappoint: he won two stages. He is off to a very solid start in 2014.
He has the tools to be a stage racer – good at time trials and climbing, and he appears to have the right mindset as well.
Barguil already has a degree in business administration.
28 October 1991; 1.82 m, 60 kg
2014 VDS price/points/teams: 8/140/102
2014 CQ ranking/points: 105/118
Best results so far this year: 8th in the Strade Bianche, 8th in the Valence Drôme Classic; 9th in the Volta a Catalunya.
@WarrenBarguil www.warrenbarguil.fr
Comprehensive interview with Barguil at Pez.

Arnaud Démare - FDJ since 2012
Born in Beauvais, an ancient city in Picardy (north of Paris) that burned after a German bomber raid in 1940; the fire engulfed two-thirds of the city and destroyed over half of the buildings. He achieved success early, with a second place in the junior World Championships in 2009. He then joined CC Nogent-sur-Oise, a strong regional amateur club, and capped his first year as an espoir with a fifth in the world championships in Australia (behind Matthews, Degenkolb, and Phinney). In 2011 he was a prolific winner on the espoirs circuit, ending the season as the U-23 world champion in Copenhagen. He joined FDJ as a pro in 2012. He immediately started winning: a stage of the Tour of Qatar, Le Samyn, the Vattenfall Cyclassics. Démare picked up where he had left off in 2013, with stages of the Tour of Switzerland and the ENECO Tour, and the overall and three stages of the four days of Dunkirk. He is off to a good start in 2014, with a stage at the tour of Qatar and second place in Gent-Wevelgem.
Démare is a sprinter; FDJ seems to think of him as their guy for the tougher races, with Bouhanni being more of a pure sprinter (similar to the Degenkolb/Kittel situation at Giant-Shimano – but two years younger).
26 August 1991; 1.81 m, 78 kg
2014 VDS price/points/teams: 16/315/73
2014 CQ ranking/points: 35/268
Best result so far this year: 2nd in Gent-Wevelgem; 1st in the 6th stage of the Tour of Qatar; 2nd in the second stage of Tirreno-Adriatico and the fifth stage of the Volta ao Algarve.
Recent interview with Démare at Pez
@ArnaudDemare, www.arnauddemare.fr

Jérémy Bescond – Cofidis since 2013
Image and video hosting by TinyPicAlthough he was born in Brittany, in Douarnenez, a fishing port that specializes in sardines, he is now considered to be from the Isère region (the area near Grenoble). His amateur club team was the alliteratively named Vulco-VC Vaulx-en-Velin. His best result before turning pro came in 2012, when he was second in the amateur version of the Grand Prix de Plouay. He rode as a stagiare for Cofidis later that year, and received a contract for 2013.
Someone who lives near Grenoble might be thought to be a climber, but Bescond seems to do best in races that are not hilly but not flat either. For the time being, he is probably serving as a domestique.
27 February 1991; 1.76 m, 62 kg
2014 VDS price/points/teams: 1/0/1 (a team that specializes in Breton riders)
2014 CQ ranking/points: -/0
Best results so far this year: 97th in the Étoile de Bessèges
There’s a Look ad/video on cycle and pedal design featuring Bescond riding/testing gear on an old Formula 1 racetrack
@BescondJ

Romain Guillemois - Europcar since 2013
Image and video hosting by TinyPic Born in Marmande, down in the flat area in the southwest France not far from Bordeaux, he had a successful amateur career riding for the famous and very competitive Vendée U cycling club, winning stages in the Tour de Dordogne and the Boucles de la Mayenne. He was also successful on the track, and was the French champion of the scratch race as an elite racer (under 23) in 2012. He had stints as a stagiaire for Europcar in both 2012 and 2013, signed a pro contract with them in late 2013, and is considered a neo-pro this year. He will be continuing his engineering studies as part of the Europcar program that allows young cyclists to pursue a degree while racing as a pro.
He had good results as an amateur in a variety of races – climby, time trials, and sprinty.
28 March 1991; 1.82 m, 66 kg
2014 VDS price/points/teams: 1/0/1 (a team that includes all of the riders named Romain)>
2014 CQ ranking/points: -/0
Best results so far this year: 7th in stage 4 of the Tropicale Amissa Bongo.
@RGuillemois

Erwann Corbel - Bretagne-Séché since 2013
Image and video hosting by TinyPic Born in Rennes, a city in Brittany that probably peaked in importance in 11th century and now seems to be inordinately proud of lying on a straight line between other better-known cities. Corbel rode as an amateur for the Sojasun espoir team and the Côtes d’Armor club. He won a stage of the Tour of New Caledonia in 2010, in the Tour of Deux Sévres in 2012, and two stages of the Kreiz Breizh Elites in 2013. He joined Cofidis as a stagiaire in 2012 and signed his first pro contract with Bretagne-Séché soon afterwards; he continues with them for 2014. He looks like a rider who can do well in tough sprints from a reduced peloton at the end of long races (for example, Le Samyn). 20 April 1991; 1.80 m, 71 kg
2014 VDS price/points/teams: 1/80/0
2014 CQ ranking/points: 157/42
Best results so far this year: 4th in Le Samyn, 15th in GP Cholet-Pays de Loire.
@Wann35 (? Not very active)

Maxime Daniel – AG2R since 2014
Image and video hosting by TinyPic Born in Rennes, so another Breton! He grew up riding for the Velo Club Saint Hilaire, and joined the Sojasun espoirs team as a junior. He was a stagiaire for the Saur-Sojasun team in both 2010 and 2011. In 2012 he won the ZLM Tour (part of the Coupe des Nations circuit for espoirs) and signed a contract with Sojasun for 2013. His first pro win came in the sixth stage of the Tour of Portugal. When Sojasun dissolved at the end of the year, he was picked up by AG2R.
5 June 1991; 1.86 m, 74 kg.
Maxime Daniel is listed as a sprinter.
2014 VDS price/points/teams: 1/0/0
2014 CQ ranking/points: 648/10
Best result so far this year: 19th in the Classique Loire Atlantique. (He was in the early break at E3-Harelbeke.)
@Danielmxm

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