14th – 17th July
Seen one too many French chateaus? The next few days is your chance to get a little change of scenery as the European U23 and Junior championships get underway in Offida, Italy. That means eight races over the next four days as Europe’s best U23 and Junior riders go head to head, fighting not just for glory but also for a guaranteed place on the start-line at this September’s Worlds in Copenhagen. For the Juniors that probably makes no difference as if they’re good enough to win then they’re going to get picked by their countries anyway, but for the U23 women thereis a special bonus in that as there is neither a European Senior Women Road Championship, nor an U23 Worlds, they automatically get a place at the Worlds proper, and as an extra rider for their team. So that makes the decision of some (cough, British Cycling, cough) not to send anyone here a leetle perplexing. The Dutch aren’t so dumb and have consequently had an extra rider in four of the last five Worlds. Anyway, the racing is usually fun, there’s pretty extensive video coverage and at a more civilised time, and if you’ve not heard of just about all these names before then you probably will in the future.So let’s start with the Juniors. A run down of who’s riding this ain’t, one because I still can’t find a startlist and two because my knowledge of who to watch stops and ends at the overwhelming favourite, Rossella Ratto. 2nd at last year’s Junior Worlds (held right here in Offida), she’s been trampling over her age group for years and will have one more chance to get those rainbows in Copenhagen. But just because you don’t know them yet doesn’t mean that you won’t hear of them in the future. Here are the podiums from the last few years’ Road Races:
1 Mie Bekker Lacota DEN
2 Marianne Vos NED
3 Rasa Leleivyte LTU
Hard though it may be to believe, there was once someone even better than Marianne Vos, and Mie Bekker Lacota is the sport’s real big loss from the last few years. Vos is of course currently the highest scorer ever in VDS history, and Rasa Leleivyte is doing pretty well at 965 points and in 13th place.
1. Rasa Leleivyte LTU
2. Marina Romoli ITA
3. Eleonora Patuzzo ITA
Rasa Leleivyte back again and topping the podium in her second year (You are eligible to enter twice, at seventeen and eighteen), another reminder of how good Marina Romoli was, and Eleonora Patuzzo who won a stage in the Giro del Trentino last year but who has had a quiet time this year on domestique duties.
1. Eleonora Patuzzo ITA
2. Cherise Taylor RSA
3. Valentina Scandolara ITA
Cherise Taylor is currently with Lotto, and if both DS Stef and number cruncher supreme Majope have her on their VDS teams then maybe the rest of us should be keeping an eye on her. And anyone who splashed out the whole 1 point that Valentina Scandolara cost would have earned 265 in return. So far.
1. Jolien D’Hoore BEL
2. Rossella Callovi ITA
3. Hanna Amend GER
A relatively anonymous year. Jolien has turned out to be more of a trackie, although she does ride the road with Topsport Vlaanderen 2012 – Ridley, while Rossella Callovi is currently 25th highest scoring rider on VDS. Hanna Amend is surprisingly the only other departure from the top level of the sport in six years of podiums. Get that “the only other” bit? That means that all the rest are still active in the pro peloton.
1 Rossella Callovi ITA
2 Pauline Ferrand Prevot FRA
3 Susanna Zorzi ITA
Those first two would have brought you 1300 points in VDS. And keep an eye out for Susanna Zorzi in the future. That was her first Junior Worlds, and although she didn’t make the podium last year she was still in the final selection, came in 5th, and rode hard in support of Rossella Ratto.
1 Pauline Ferrand Prevot FRA
2 Rossella Ratto ITA
3 Coryn Rivera USA
Pauline F-P finally got her rainbows, you’re probably familiar with Coryn Rivera too, and as neither of them are still juniors that leaves Rossella Ratto as the overwhelming favourite for any race for this age group.
So if you want to get ahead on VDS, then here’s the place to start. The U23 podiums aren’t so surprising because an awful lot of the girls are by then riding in the top teams, and if you want to see how the TT riders develop too then go to Cqranking and type "European" in the search box.
Here’s the schedule; Italian time of course and ready for you to apply your own personal mathematical formulae.
10:00 Time Trial U23 Women - km 25
14:00 Time Trial U23 Men - km 25
10:00 Time Trial Junior Women - km 15.1
14:00 Time Trial Junior Men - km 25
09:00 Road Race U23 Women - km 124.2
14:00 Road Race Junior Men - km 124.2
09:00 Road Race Junior Women - km 69
14:00 Road Race U23 Men - km 179.4
And here’s a nice video presentation that the organisers made of the circuits themselves (though if you prefer old fashioned maps then start here.
Media coverage here is at Italian levels of brilliance. Satellite channel ABChannel is planning 30 minutes of coverage at 22:30 on both 14th and 15th, then 80 minutes at 20:30 on the 16th and 100 minutes at 21:00 on the 17th. Their site also claims to stream over the web. pianetagiovani.ciclismo.info will also have reports up later. There is a live ticker at www.italiaciclismo.net currently running for the TTs, while the official site is also planning them for the road races. And doubtless lots more to come.