After the big age-group rendezvous at Liege and ZLM last weekend, the under-23 calendar went lower key this week as non-Italian teams spread themselves around the main Continental Tour calendars.
In the USA, the Stateside programme of Hagens Berman Axeon picked up where their European-based teammates left off. Stage wins at the Tour of Gila for Chris Blevins and Michael Rice bring the team’s season win-tally to eight, with six different riders.
Another second place this week for Cees Bol of SEG Racing Academy, who despite five trips to the podium in five races has yet to stand on the top step. That statistic is of course slightly misleading as it includes stage races as a single event but then counts podiums on a different basis, but the whole point of statistics is to use them rhetorically. With this week’s Tour de Bretagne as a goal for the rider who will be accompanied by an in-form set of teammates, my Irish Grandmother is already on the phone to the bookmakers… and she never bets each way.
Gabriel Cullaigh returned to Team Wiggins duty for the 1.2 Rutland-Melton Cicle Classic, a race which has been using off-road sectors since its inception in 2005.
With 25km remaining (and after 150km of farm tracks, sharp climbs and more corners than Amstel Gold) a group of eight became five, which whittled down to three by the last 10km. Cullaigh outsprinted Karol Domagalski (One Pro Cycling) and Koos-Jeroen Kers (WPG Amsterdam) to win the local pork pie in Melton.
In Italy, the GP San Vendamiano finished in a win for Zalf-Euromobil’s Alberto Dainese. The winner of the national level Firenze-Empoli and Memorial Vincenzo Mantovani has flourished since moving to Zalf from General Store Bottoli over the winter. He may not unseat Giovanni Lonardi as Zalf’s first choice sprinter in the international races this season, but at only 20 years old, Dainese is heading firmly in the right direction.
The 2.HC Tour of Croatia provided two top ten finishes for Ziga Jerman (pictured below) in the sprints, whilst Ljubljana Gusto Xaurum teammate Tadej Pogacar took fifth on the (near) summit finish of stage 5.
Finally, good news (of sorts) for Jacob Hennessy, whose collarbone is expected to heal in time to allow a return to racing in June.
UPATE: After crashing heavily at last weeks ZLM Tour whilst racing for the GB national team, @jacob_hennessy1 is on the mend. A broken collarbone and bad bruising means 3-4 weeks off the bike, but his operation went well and he’ll be back in time for the Baby Giro.💪🏼🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/R2vw45Gtld
— Mitchelton-BikeExchange (@GreenEDGEconti) April 21, 2018
This week, we move on to the Tour de Bretagne (that’s Brittany like France, not “Britain” as Google Translate would have it) and try to find out anything at all about the GP Liberazione. The three day Toscana Terra di Ciclismo Eroica takes to the strade bianche as the domestic Italian teams continue to battle for Baby Giro qualification…