Coming off the tail of the Nations Cup at Kattekoers-Ieper and Tour de Normandie, there have only been two major under-23s race this week.
At the Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux – a three day Belgian stage race in the ‘gap’ between Ronse and Roubaix, which includes neither castles nor mountains – Jasper Philipsen (Hagens Berman Axeon) picked up where he left off last year with two stage wins and leading the overall classification.
With a strong team around him, it seems hard to imagine Philipsen losing the yellow jersey even though only 20 seconds separate the top ten with just the final day’s split-stage to go. A week before the Ronde van Vlaanderen Beloften, the much vaunted Belgische wielertalent looks to be odds on favourite for the big one in Oudenaarde.
Over in Italy, the Italian Easter Classics got under way with the Trofeo PIVA in the hills north of Treviso. On the first remotely warm day of the year, several early moves got no more than a minute or two on the gruppo before being reeled back in and it was generally a cagey race. With two laps of the Guia circuit remaining, a five rider group including Matic Groselj (Ljubljana Gusto Xaurum), Torjus Sleen (Uno-X Development Team) and Mattia Baldo (Iseo Serraturre Rime Carnovali) gained over 30 seconds on the bunch. However, on the final climb the race came back together, with Robert Stannard (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) attacking to thin out the group. On the fast run back to Col San Martino, the bunch swelled to 40 riders. A late attack from Paolo Baccio (Team Mastromarco Sensi Nibali) clung on by its fingernails and it was the Italian who took the win, with Standard-led bunch given the same time on his back wheel.
Great Britain’s first-year senior Jake Stewart backed up his second place from Kattekoers with a third at the Trofeo PIVA. Again coming from a long way back to find a spot on the podium, Stewart is one of the fastest sprinters in the bunch and should pick up UCI victories when he can find a smooth run to the line.
The EW editor is pretty busy with real-life photography work for the next couple of days, but an Italian Spring Classics high-res gallery will follow soon…
This piece was going to be titled “Quack Release” and include a story about Davide Rebellin returning to the under-23 ranks (“I’m looking forward to recapturing my youth, which I’ve never really lost”) where he’ll be riding for the Peter Pan-Post ChainReaction squad. There was also one about Team Wiggins being allowed into the Tour de Yorkshire (Sir Garrity: “We were joking all along and you suckers fell for it. I mean… Vitus?!”).
Since it’s now gone 10pm and April Fool stories aren’t allowed after lunch, I’ll save the first for next year, by which time the second hopefully won’t be needed.