A busy week in the under-23 ranks as the season gets into full swing…
Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux
Carrying over from last week was Belgium’s Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux, a 3-day stage race which features neither mountains nor castles (but is three days long, unlike the Three Days of De Panne, which isn’t). Local favourite Jasper Philipsen led the overall standings going into the final day’s split stage, and only a disaster in the final 14-minute time trial would be capable of dislodging him from the top of the standings.
Despite the best efforts of Lotto-Soudal U23’s Stan Dewulf, who took 8 seconds back on GC in the time trial, it was Philipsen who retained the lead at the end of the final day. His Hagens Berman Axeon teammates showed the strength in depth that the squad has – as befits its Pro Continental status – by also placing Will Barta and Ian Garrison in the top 4 overall.
Italian Spring Classics
Down in Italy, the spring racing moved up a notch with three UCI 1.2u races on consecutive days in the north of the country – the Trofeo PIVA (covered in last week’s roundup), Giro del Belvedere and GP Palio del Recioto.
The Giro del Belvedere came down to a five-man sprint up the main street in Villa di Villa, which was won by Robert Stannard (Mitchelton Bike-Exchange) from Christian Scaroni (Petroli Firenze Hoppla’) and Matteo Sobrero (Dimension Data).
Read the full photo-story from the race here. Please do read it, or even just look at the pictures.
At the GP Palio del Recioto – which it turns out is a wine festival with a bike race attached – the New World riders again took the spoils, this time through Stefan de Bod (Dimension Data). Going clear on the toughest climb of the day with 20km remaining, de Bod held off Slovenian youngster Tadej Pogacar (pictured below) by six seconds. Sobrero emphasised his good form as he took fifth place.
Trofeo Edil C wasn’t so much after the Lord Mayor’s Show as concurrent with it, and was won by Alessandro Fedeli (Trevigiani Phonix Hemus 1896), whose previous best result was a stage win at the Giro della Valle d’Aosta in 2017.
Ronde van Vlaanderen Beloften
As local boys Philipsen and Dewulf were clearly in good form from their showing at the Triptyque, things boded well for the Belgians as the Nations Cup continued with the U23 Tour of Flanders. However, good form and good luck are only occasional bedfellows in cycling, with a mechanical dealing with Philipsen’s chances long before the business end of the race.
Instead, it was the unheralded (in Europe at least) Jimmy Whelan (Australia) who stood on top of the podium after bridging to the leading group, then launching a solo attack 20km from the line. The Drapac Cycling rider held off the second group by a mere 6 seconds, having held a lead of over 30 seconds with 4km to go.
Max Kanter (Germany) finished second, with Robert Stannard (Australia) coming in third to stand on the podium for the third time in a week.
It was also a good week off the bike for Hagens Berman Axeon, as the decision to put an extra $1m into the team’s budget to get into the AMGEN Tour of California paid off, with their selection being announced this week. The Tour of California is not only a WorldTour event but is, as has been rightly pointed out, a good warmup for the following week’s Baby Giro.
The team also took a stage win at the Circuit of the Ardennes (2.2) through the Portuguese, Ivo Oliveira (below), a man who recently set the fifth fastest individual pursuit of all time and can also navigate a tight sprint finish.
A strong showing also from a resurgent Cees Bol (SEG Racing Academy), to finish second on stage one and on GC. A consistent rider, although not a prolific winner, Bol suffered concussion in March 2017 and had to sit on the sidelines for most of the season.
To find out what’s coming up this week, take a look at the EW event calendar, because that’s what I do.