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Young Guns News Roundup #6 (03/13/2007)
By Fabio
Date: 3/13/2007
Young Guns News Roundup #6 (03/13/2007)

Here we go again, with a new weekly report on the possible cycling stars of tomorrow. We had another weekend of great young gun bike racing in Italy, France and Spain. Jacopo Guarnieri and Simone Ponzi emerged from the Italian challenges as the best sprinters around, but there was some more guys in the spotlight too. Velo Club La Pomme Marseille and Bretagne-Armor Lux continued their dominance over the French field, while also Auber93 joined the club of rival-smashers. A Spanish rookie brought his winning antics from the Junior ranks to the U23 class, and a race in Andalusia turned a bit chaotic. Last but not least, we step into Croatia for the Porec Trophy single-day battle.

The first one-on-one battle between two of Italy's top young fastmen, Jacopo Guarnieri and Edoardo Costanzi, ended with the former as winner. The velocista of the Marchiol-Ima-Famila team, young gun branch of the Pro Tour squad Liquigas, claimed victory in Saturday's Giro delle Tre Province, a kind of Sprinter's World Championships for U23 riders, whose forty-first edition took place over six laps of a circuit around the town of Limito in the Milan area. Andrea Pinos (Ita - Basso Piave Tms Spinazzè) pulled off his second runner-up performance in less than two weeks, whilst Davide Pontiroli of the Veneto-based Velo Club Mantovani Rovigo climbed the lowest step on the podium, and Costanzi couldn't place higher than fourth.

Guarnieri certainly has got great sprinting legs, but also owes much of this victory to his own team-mates, notably Piergiorgio Curtolo and Alessandro Buttazzoni, who did a perfect job both as "advisers" (as past winners of the event, the two guys put their knowledge of the course at Jacopo's service) during much of the race and leadoutmen (the team perfectly set up Guarnieri up for the win) in the final straight.

The event got off to a fast and furious start, with more than 47 km. covered in the first hour of racing. Poland's Piotr Osiński (Norda-Atala) made the news first, and the Tad Pharma Named-Team Aurora all-Italian duo of Fabio Negri and Marco Zanella joined him up front soon afterwards. Zanella was quickly back into the pack as he couldn't hold the wheels of the two other escapees, who stayed clear until km. 100 instead. Then it was gruppo compatto again.

A last lap move from the Italian National RR champion (in the U23 class) Marco Cattaneo of the Pagnoncelli orange armada, as well as Luca Zanderigo of the Filmop-Parolin powerhouse, was nullified with the finish under four kilometres away. And not even a very late attack from another man in orange, Daniele Canziani, bore fruit. Such that, to nobody's surprise, it all came down to a field sprint. And to be honest very few people were surprised as that 19-year-old law student from Castelvetro Piacentino named Jacopo Guarnieri showcased his sprinting abilities for the second time in just six days after opening his 2007 account at Mareno the past Sunday (see our round-up #5). And made it three wins in a row here for the "green and blue" young gun version of the mighty Liquigas.

Jacopo Guarnieri.
Photo Courtesy Marchiol Famila

41st Giro delle Tre Province (Limito, 162 km. - 1.12)
Top 10 Places

1. Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita - Marchiol Ima-Famila-Liquigas) (46.223 km/h)
2. Andrea Pinos (Ita - Basso Piave TMS) - s.t.
3. Davide Pontiroli (Ita - Mantovani Rovigo) - s.t.
4. Edoardo Costanzi (Ita - Unidelta-Arvedi-Bottoli) - s.t.
5. Valentino Borghesi (Ita - Moro Scott-Bicycle Line) - s.t.
6. Michele Merlo (Ita - VC Mantovani Rovigo) - s.t.
7. Alberto Curtolo (Ita - Marchiol Ima-Famila-Liquigas) - s.t.
8. Mauro Colombera (Ita - UC Trevigiani Dynamon) - s.t.
9. Andriy Kutalo (Ukr- San Marco-Concrete-Caneva) - s.t.
10. Enrico Montanari (Ita - Finauto-Neri-Lucchini) - s.t.

Starters: 204. Finishers: 193.

Photo Gallery of the race available in this website

One, Two, Three. The quickest man in town is me! As if one winning sprint a week wasn't enough, Jacopo Guarnieri got back in the saddle and rocked the field again in Sunday's 75th Circuito di San Urbano / 4th Gran Premio Fadalti running over forty laps of a 2,500 metre circuit around the town of Pianzano, near Treviso.

The teen-age sensation from northern Italy, coached by Mario Cipollini's former leadout man Biagio Conte (and he sure knows what sprints are about …) put in his third royal performance so far this year - as opposed to just one victory in his debut year in the U23 class. But as we said in a previous roundup, his high school duties kept him far from plenty of race podiums back in the days of 2006. Amongst his main victims was once more Mauro Abel Richeze: the sprinting talent of Argentina started his season in style at nearby San Michele di Piave two weeks ago, but later found a certain fastman from the Liquigas young gun team on his way. Andrea Piechele of the local Unione Ciclisti Trevigiani had his third recent top ten performance, but this time he even succeeded in climbing the podium.

Marchiol-Famila Ima-Liquigas' appointed leader for the race was Alessandro Buttazzoni, aiming for a special 22nd birthday present: a first place finish in a top event like this. The boy got into a five-strong breakaway group that formed around lap six. His attacking companions Diego Bernardi (Cyber Team Ormesani-Panni) and Andrea Vaccher (Modall Bici Team-SanDonà) were chased down with a few laps to go, while Buttazzoni, Angelo Ciccone (Team Friuli) and Mauro Colombera (Trevigiani) stayed clear until 300m from the finish. They had their hopes for victory miserably trashed in the final straight, after they stayed clear for several dozen kilometres. But the Liquigas had a Plan B, and when such plan goes under the name of "Jacopo Guarnieri", you can be sure that your chances for success are still high nonetheless.

One, Two, Three … and now on with the next challenge for both unstoppable Guarnieri and anyone looking forward to stopping him for the first time this season: the Popolarissima single-day Classic, set to run in nearby Treviso the next Sunday. See you there!

75th Circuito di S.Urbano (Pianzano, 100 km. - 1.12)
Top 10 Places

1. Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita - Marchiol-Famila Ima-Liquigas) - 02h10'52" (45.842 kph)
2. Mauro Abel Richeze (Arg - Modall Bici Team S.Donà) - s.t.
3. Andrea Piechele (Ita - UC Trevigiani-Dynamon) - s.t.
4. Francesco Kanda (Ita - UC Trevigiani-Dynamon) - s.t.
5. Manuel Belletti (Ita - UC Trevigiani-Dynamon) - s.t.
6. Andriy Kutalo (Ukr - San Marco-Concrete-Caneva) - s.t.
7. Vladimir Isaychev (Rus - GS 93 Promosport) - s.t.
8. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita - Termopiave-Meccanica 2P-Cassolato) - s.t.
9. Alex Simoni (Ita - Cyber Team Oleodinamica Panni) - s.t.
10. Fabrizio Libonati (Ita - Feralpi) - s.t.

Starters: 182. Finishers: 57.

One day past the "Tour of the Three Provinces", the Milan area of Lombardy played host to another battle in the saddle: the 28th Piccola Coppa Agostoni, U23 version of the well-known professional race taking place in August around the town of Lissone. This same place saw about 180 riders from 20 different Italian and foreign teams at the startline Sunday, and young (21) Luca Zanderigo of Lazise (Verona province) notch up his first victory of the season. The boy is not new to wearing the Italian National Team jersey, but this time he scored for Filmop-Sorelle Ramonda-Parolin, the cycling club who also got Marcello Pavarin (winner of Gran Premio Lavi-Circuito di Paderno two weeks earlier) into the race top three, with the Pole Jaroslav Marycz, racing with Switzerland-based Team, in the middle.

The top two finishers went clear on the last uphill portion, the Orlanda climb (gradients up to 15%), with about 8 km to go. It was another Italian, Fausto Fognini (Pool Cantù-NGC-Tad Pharma) who started the battle there, but Zanderigo and Marycz countered his move, and later sped off on their own, while Pavarin and his fellow Parolin-man Andrea Giacomin, as well as's Matteo Montanari and Fabio Angeli, were doing a great job blocking the chase back in the peloton. Fognini got swallowed up by the pack, and Marycz had a go at dropping Zanderigo by his wheel with about one mile left, but didn't succeed, whereas the following counter-attack from the Italian was the good one. Zanderigo took seven seconds out of his Polish challenger, and Pavarin drove the bunch over the line at thirteen seconds.

"The boys put in a flawless ride today" Filmop-Parolin's team manager and former professional rider Mirko Rossato commented. Adding that "Zanderigo is reaping the fruits of his tenacity. The day before, at Limito, he was caught in the last five kilometres, but he tried again at Lissone and everything went fine. To secure two-thirds of the podium in top-quality races like this is something that doesn't happen every day, and that should make us aware of our strength".

28th Piccola Coppa Agostoni / Trofeo Luciano Meroni
(Lissone-Lissone, 146 km. - 1.12): Top 10 Places

1. Luca Zanderigo (Ita - Filmop-Ramonda-Parolin) - 03h38' (40.177 kph)
2. Jaroslav Marycz (Pol - Team - at 07"
3. Marcello Pavarin (Ita - Filmop-Sorelle Ramonda-Parolin) - at 13"
4. Alessandro Formentelli (Ita - Saclà-Sesto Auto-Ab Isolanti) - at 13"
5. Enrico Montanari (Ita - Finauto-Neri-Lucchini-Zoccorinese) - at 13"
6. Vitaly Buts (Ukr - Pagnoncelli-NGC Perrel) - at 13"
7. Andrea Giacomin (Ita - Filmop-Sorelle Ramonda-Parolin) - at 13"
8. Matteo Scaroni (Ita - Pagnoncelli-NGC Perrel) - at 13"
9. Michele Magni (Ita - UC Bergamasca-Colpack) - at 13"
10. Fausto Fognini (Ita - Pool Cantù-NGC Tad Pharma) - at 13"

If we had a best-starter-to-the-season classification for young riders in Italy, the top three spots would most likely be filled by Jacopo Guarnieri, Edoardo Costanzi, and Simone Ponzi of the powerful Zalf-Desirée Fior. The 20-year-old prospect from the Brescia area town of Ghedi enjoyed his second triumphal Sunday in a row as he sprinted to victory in the 31st Trofeo Franco Balestra / Memorial Gianpietro Metelli / Gran Premio Spazio Auto (kind of a short name for a race, isn't it?), whose 171 kilometre course on his home roads of the Brescia province of Lombardy he completed clocking a time of four hours, ten minutes and twenty seconds.

His chief rival in the sprint was another fastboy coming all the way from a successful Sunday: Francesco Ginanni, champion of the recent Trofeo Colline Capannoresi (see roundup #5). Unfortunately for the Tuscan there was just one place at the top of the podium available, such that coach Luca Scinto and the Scinto-ists of Team Finauto-Lucchini-Zoccorinese had to settle with one of the lowest steps for the second straight year. Well, at least they improved Alessandro Proni's 2006 third place performance, so perhaps they'll make their climb to the top complete next year. Another mighty team on the Trofeo Balestra 2007 podium was Pagnoncelli-NGC Perrel, as Brescia's own Cristopher Bosio snatched third place.

The Trofeo was held in spring-ish weather, and saw plenty of attacks go, but none of them really prospered. Finauto had a shot at making the headlines through Davide Ricci Bitti, who launched an uphill attack along with the Belarusian talent Uladzimir Autka (Promo Ciclo La Spezia, winner of GP La Torre Fucecchio two weeks before). But not even such strong pair was allowed to go far; (most of) the peloton was still together as they crested the last ascent on the menu, the Gandosso, and started their downhill rush to the line of twelve kilometres. Finauto tried to strike first again, but Ginanni started his sprint too soon, and the Zalf Desirée Fior superfastboy, winner of the prestigious Trofeo ZSSDI near Trieste seven days before, passed him in the final metres to claim another victory.

In after-race talks Ponzi sounded like he still couldn't believe he got such very coveted success on home soil. A win that, in Ponzi's own words, was a great reward also for the job his teammates did all through the race, especially as they gave him a helluva leadout in the sprint. Later this month, he'll be given a new opportunity to showcase his abilities, but with a different jersey: the light blue dress of the Squadra Azzurra (Italy's National Team) at the next World Cup race in Portugal.

31st Trofeo Balestra (Palazzolo to San Pancrazio, 171 km. - 1.12)
Top 20 Places

1. Simone Ponzi (Ita - Zalf-Desirèe Fior) - 04h10'20" (40.985 kph)
2. Francesco Ginanni (Ita - Finauto-Neri-Lucchini) - s.t.
3. Cristopher Bosio (Ita - Pagnoncelli-NGC Perrel) - s.t.
4. Enrico Peruffo (Ita - Filmop-Sorelle Ramonda-Parolin) - s.t.
5. Giuseppe De Maria (Ita - Podenzano-Sterilton) - s.t.
6. Matteo Montaguti (Ita - Gavardo Tecmor) - s.t.
7. Mirko Selvaggi (Ita - Mastromarco-Chianti Sensi-Vangi) - s.t.
8. Alessandro Bisolti (Ita - Saclà-Sesto Auto-Ab Isolanti) - s.t.
9. Mathias Blumer (Swi - Hadimec) - s.t.
10. Enrico Zen (Ita - Filmop-Ramonda-Parolin) - s.t.
11. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita - Zalf-Desirèe Fior) - s.t.
12. Derik Zampedri (Ita - Zalf-Desirèe Fior) - s.t.
13. Maurizio Girardini (Ita - Unidelta-Bottoli-Arvedi) - s.t.
14. Jaroslav Dabrowski (Pol - Norda-Atala) - s.t.
15. Damiano Caruso (Ita - Mastromarco-Chianti Sensi-Vangi) - s.t.
16. Maxim Belkov (Rus - Finauto-Neri-Lucchini) - s.t.
17. Cristiano Colombo (Ita - Saclà-Sesto Auto-Palazzago) - s.t.
18. Davide Ricci Bitti (Ita - Finauto Neri Lucchini) - s.t.
19. Uladzimir Autka (Blr - Promociclo La Spezia) - s.t.
20. Marco Cattaneo (Ita - Pagnoncelli NGC Perrel) - at 20"

Starters: 178. Finishers: 108.

The Zalf-Desirèe powerhouse enjoyed a great Sunday at San Pancrazio, but did even better at the Romagna town of San Bernardino di Lugo, where they scored a great 1-2 with defending champion Sacha Modolo securing his second straight victory in the Coppa San Bernardino and Enrico Cecchin bursting into spotlight with his runner-up performance. 130 riders took part in this hotly-contested race, filled with attacks and counter-attacks and counter-counter attacks from top teams like Zalf, Velo Club Mantovani Rovigo, Unione Sportiva Fausto Coppi-Gazzera and Danton Capparini. Zalf's 1987-born Gabriele Tassinari of San Bernardino tried to steal the show in his own hometown by getting into several breakaways. His efforts and courage didn't pay off on the personal glory side of the matter, but proved a help to Modolo and Cecchin. The Under 23 / Elite-2 scene veteran Matteo Busato, winner of the Coppa Belricetto season opener in Romagna the past weekend, had to be content with third place this time.

48th Coppa San Bernardino (S.Bernardino di Lugo, 121.9k - 1.12)
Top 10 Places

1. Sacha Modolo (Ita - Zalf-Desirèe Fior) (43.049 kph)
2. Enrico Cecchin (Ita - Zalf-Desirèe Fior)
3. Matteo Busato (Ita - US Fausto Coppi-Gazzera)
4. Davide Pontiroli (Ita - VC Mantovani)
5. Roberto Longo (Ita - VC Mantovani)
6. Filippo Partini (Ita - Ginestra Ceramiche-Il Gabbiano)
7. Mattia Ceola (Ita - US Fausto Coppi Gazzera)
8. Michele Merlo (Ita - VC Mantovani)
9. Rudy Campa (Ita - VC Mantovani)
10. Alexander Zhdanov (Rus - Cycling Team Valdarno)

The Societá Ciclistica Calzaturieri Montegranaro-Marini Silvano, organisers of Trofeo Gruppo Meccaniche Luciani in the Corridonia hamlet of central Italy, had their efforts rewarded as the Russian cyclist Anton Sintsov (22), one the most recent additions to the squad, won the seventh edition of the contest this past Sunday. The 100-km. battle, attended by 250 legs, was run over many laps of a circuit of 2,776 metres, on a short but undulating parcours made harder by several turns.

Sintsov was proudly part of the ten-strong breakaway group that made what turned out to be the crucial move early into the race, when a courageous rider like Ciro Santoro (Massi Team) started the fight and nine more athletes went away with him. The front group was down to nine men as Roberto Postacchin (ICIET) gave up, while the other escapees kept the chasers (led by 2006 winner Federico Canuti and the Aran World Cucine and SC Monturano Civitanova Cascinare riders) at bay in the last ten laps after opening a maximum advantage of 01'20".

The pile-up most of the lead group got caught in about 500m from the finish (Sintsov's teammate Simone Campagnaro was subsequently disqualified because of that), while taking in the final turn, made things easier for the Russian, who was leading the front bunch charge as such incident took place, and could cross the line with his arms raised in triumph. The Massi Team hit the podium twice, courtesy of Santoro and Marco Ghiselli, but failed to hit the main target.

7th Trofeo Gruppo Meccaniche Luciani (Corridonia, 100 km. - 1.12)
Top 10 Places

1. Anton Sintsov (Rus - Calzaturieri Montegranaro-Marini Silvano) - 02h14' (44.776 kph)
2. Ciro Massimo Santoro (Ita - Massi Team-Euronics) - s.t.
3. Marco Ghiselli (Ita - Massi Team-Euronics) - s.t.
4. Gianluca Bordoni (Ita - Vega-Acqua & Sapone) - s.t.
5. Nikita Eskov (Rus - Pol. Valdarno) - at 04"
6. Francesco Lasca (Ita - Bedogni Natalini-Monsummanese) - at 20"
7. Paolo Centra (Ita - Futura Team Matricardi) - s.t.
8. Paolo Proietti (Ita - Pol. Valdarno) - s.t.
9. Emanuele Zitti (Ita - Centri della Calzatura-Riviera Adriatica) - s.t.
10. Giuseppe Caputo (Ita - Massi Team-Euronics) - s.t.

Starters: 125. Finishers: 62.

We move from Italy to France, whose young gun weekend had Sunday's 1.2-sanctioned Grand Prix Cycliste Ville de Lillers / Souvenir Bruno Comini semi-classic as top event. Winner of the 171-km contest held under the sunny skies of the northern region of Pas-de-Calais was Benoît Daeninck (UV Aube), aged 25, and showing the fastest legs in the nine-man sprint the battle ended up with.

A three-man attempt on the hills from Germany's National Road Race Champion Dirk Müller (Team Sparkasse), Denmark's Michael Reihs (Designa Kokken) and Aleksejs Saramontis (Rietumu Bank-Riga) the Latvian made the news first, with Christophe Masson (Differdange) and Geoffrey Deresmes (ESEG Douai) trying in vain to get across to them. But as all riders above got swallowed up by the pack in the final circuit inside Lillers town, more skirmishes followed, resulting in a nine-strong winning breakaway: Daeninck, Saramontis again, the French pair of Ludovic Capelle and Jean Zen (both with Roubaix-Lille Métropole), the German Hannes Blank (of the Luxembourg-based CC Differdange) Dennis Kreder (Unibet-Davo) and the Mini-Rabo Tom Leezer for the Netherlands, plus Mads Christensen (Designa Kokken) for Denmark and Mario Ickx (Jartazi-Promo Fashion) as only representative of the Belgian contingent went clear and made it to the line. The UV Aube appointed leader was the deserving winner, and first French topping the podium since Damien Nazon's triumph in the year 2003. Ickx and Leezer completed the multinational top three, while crowd favourites Zen and Capelle couldn't make their fans happy.

43rd GP Ville de Lillers / Souvenir Bruno Comini (171.1 km – 1.2)
Top 20 Places

1. Benoît Daeninck (Fra - UV Aube) - 03h51'37" (44.323 km/h)
2. Mario Ickx (Bel - Jartazi-Promo Fashion) - s.t.
3. Tom Leezer (Hol - Rabobank Espoirs) - s.t.
4. Hannes Blank (Ger - CC Differdange) - s.t.
5. Dennis Kreder (Hol - Unibet-Davo) - s.t.
6. Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat - Rietumu Bank-Riga) - s.t.
7. Ludovic Capelle (Bel - Roubaix-Lille Métropole) - s.t.
8. Mads Christensen (Den - Designa Kokken) - at 04"
9. Jean Zen (Fra - Roubaix-Lille Métropole) - s.t.
10. Stefan Heiny (Ger - CC Differdange) - at 37"
11. Cédric Pineau (Fra - Roubaix-Lille Métropole) - s.t.
12. Casper Austa (Spa - Rietumu Bank-Riga) - s.t.
13. Nicolas Labussiere (Fra - France Police) - s.t.
14. Franck Perque (Fra - CC Nogent-sur-Oise) - s.t.
15. Dieter Cappelle (Bel - Unibet Continental Team) - s.t.
16. Yukiya Arashiro (Jap - Nippo-Meitan Honpo) - s.t.
17. Carlo Meneghetti (Fra - CC Cambrai) - s.t.
18. Matthew Brammeier (GBR - Profel) - s.t.
19. Laurent Didier (Lux - Regiostrom-Senges) - s.t.
20. David Derepas (Fra - Roubaix-Lille Métropole) - s.t.

But the racing weekend had kicked off Saturday with the lesser-known Elite Nationale race called Circuit des Quatre Cantons, whose start/finish line was located at Yzeure, and whose windswept 2007 edition was won by Nikolas Cotret of CG Orléans-Loiret ahead of two top-quality challengers like the Estonian Kalle Kriit (RO Sainte Amandoise), who hit the podium for the first time this season, and the mighty Russian Andrei Klyuev, top three finisher at both the late Essor Basque series and Tour de Labord.

The race was decided by a bunch sprint of eleven, as Nikolas Cotret and his team-mate Benjamin Gault, their fellow Frenchmen Jérémie Dérangère and Sylvain Greiner (SCO Dijon), Xavier Brun (EC Saint-Etienne Loire), Jonathan Ferrand (UVCA Troyes), Sébastien Ivars (Chambéry CF) and Mickaël Roly (EC Montmarault-Montluçon), plus Bulgaria's Vladimir Konstantinov (Martigues) and the aforementioned duo of Kalle Kriit and Andrei Klyuev made the gap after no more than 125 km. and stayed clear until the finish. Other usually successful Russians didn't have their best day in the saddle: Trophée de l'Essor Basque overall champion Yury Trofimov was 33rd, and Ivan Seledkov finished one more place behind.

Circuit des 4 Cantons (Yzeure, 145.5 km): Top 20 Places
1. Nikolas Cotret (Fra - CG Orléans-Loiret) - 03h24'04"
2. Kalle Kriit (Est - RO Saint Amandoise) - s.t.
3. Andrey Kluyev (Rus - Russian N.T.) - s.t.
4. Jérémie Derangere (Fra - SCO Dijon) - s.t.
5. Mickaël Roly (Fra - EC Montmarault-Montluçon) - s.t.
6. Sébastien Ivars (Fra - Chambéry Cyclisme) - s.t.
7. Xavier Brun (Fra - EC Saint Etienne-Loire) - s.t.
8. Sylvain Greiner (Fra - SCO Dijon) - s.t.
9. Radoslav Konstantinov (Bul - Martigues Sport Cyclisme) - s.t.
10. Jonathan Ferrand (Fra - VCA Troyes) - s.t.
11. Benjamin Gault (Fra - CG Orléans-Loiret) - at 07"
12. Alexey Shmidt (Rus - Russian N.T.) - at 01'20"
13. Alexandre Aulas (Fra - Chambéry Cyclisme) - s.t.
14. David Han (Fra - SCO Dijon) - s.t.
15. Yusuke Hatanaka (Jap - Albi Vélo Sport) - s.t.
16. Cédric Fontbonnat (Fra - Blois CAC 41) - s.t.
17. Julien Rabaud (Fra - EC Montmarault-Montluçon) - s.t.
18. Alexandr Pliuschin (Rus - Chambéry Cyclisme) - s.t.
19. Yvan Sartis (Fra - CG Orléans-Loiret) - s.t.
20. Anthony Valès (Fra - Albi Vélos Sport) - s.t.

The unstoppable Velo Club La Pomme Marseille, traditionally one of France's strongest teams on the Elite-2 & U23 scene (maybe even the strongest), stamped their authority also on the past weekend, courtesy of Gatis Smukulis and Thierry Hupond, first and third place finishers in the Grand Prix Mathias Nomblot around Villefranche in the Rhône-Alpes region. The 20-year-old from Latvia clinched his second win so far this year, and made it five for his team (a record number of early victories even for the mighty Apple Boys) as he took the honours in Sunday's sunny but windy challenge; Smukulis first got into the right breakaway of 35, that came after about 50 km, and later made a winning solo move 2 km from the line, as he attacked all other four remainders of the breakaway. One of them, his Russian neighbour Yuri Trofimov, took some redemption after his poor showing at GP Lillers, and added another excellent result to his tally. La Pomme put three more riders in the top 15 spots, including David Tanner, unable to reach the podium this week. He finished in 11th, one place behind Andrew Jackson the Brit.

The race was reportedly held under suspension threat as some traffic policemen looking for exposure said they were going to stop it if riders wouldn't abide by the traffic regulations (!!!). Thankfully it was the rule of common sense which prevailed in the end.

GP de la ville de Villefranche / Mathias Nomblot (Villefranche)
Top 20 Places

1. Gatis Smukulis (Lat - VC La Pomme Marseille) - 03h33'30"
2. Yury Trofimov (Rus - Russian Nat. Team) - at 05"
3. Thierry Hupond (Fra - VC La Pomme Marseille) - at 09"
4. Nicolas Fritsch (Fra - VC Aix EN Provence) - at 13"
5. Thomas Brigaud (Fra - SCO Dijon) - at 17"
6. Sebastien Gredy (Fra - CC Etupes Le Doubs) - at 01'00"
7. Mathieu Fabry (Fra - VC La Pomme Marseille) - s.t.
8. Alexandre Aulas (Fra - Chambery C.F.) - s.t.
9. Jeremie Derangere (Fra - SCO Dijon) - s.t.
10. Andrew Jackson (GBR - CG Orleans Loiret) - s.t.
11. David Tanner (Aus - VC La Pomme Marseille) - s.t.
12. Piotr Krysman (Pol - VC Bressan) - s.t.
13. Georges Lestage (Fra - VC Cevenol) - s.t.
14. Alexandre Roger (Fra - VC Aixois Aix en Provence) - s.t.
15. Maxime Bouet (Fra - VC La Pomme Marseille) - s.t.
16. François Lamiraud (Fra - CR4C Roanne) - s.t.
17. Romain Lebreton (Fra - CC Etupes Le Doubs) - s.t.
18. Pawel Cieslik (Pol - VC Lyon-Vaulx en Velin) - s.t.
19. Noan Lelarge (Fra - Bretagne Armor Lux) - s.t.
20. Jérôme Coppel (Fra - CR4C Roanne) - s.t.

When it comes to demolishing opposition, the north France version of VC La Pomme Marseille is no doubt Bretagne-Armor Lux. The former Jean Floc'h wünderteam added a new jewel to their outstanding season tally - also including wins at Boucles de la Soule (where they even took all top six spots), Route Bretonne, Circuit de la Nive, Tour du Labourd and Ronde du Pays-Basque - by wrapping up the podium of the 36th Manche Atlantique, whose solo winner was Sébastien Duret. His teammates David Le Lay and Stéphane Petilleau finished in second and third at eight and seventeen seconds respectively, though Mickaël Larpe of Velo Club Roubaix-Lille Métropole played the bad guy as he kept the Breton armada from conquering all top four places.

Some 170 riders attended the event, while over 15,000 bystanders filled the roads in order to cheer for their favourite men in Lycra. Nothing worthy of mention happened in the first, headwind swept half of the race, but after about 80 km. a breakaway group of fifteen formed, and put up to one minute and a half into the pack. The Armor Lux chase machine came into action and, with some help from the persistent wind, both broke the field into pieces and succeeded in bringing the escapees back, such that we had about 60 legs up front as the race hit the Plumelec final circuit. David Lelay attacked next on the Cadoudal climb, but the guy that has already experienced all three podium steps this season (Le Lay won the Circuit de Nive, was runner-up at Boucles de la Soule and took third on Tour du Labourd roads) was caught and dropped by Duret in the last lap, and the latter continued his winning march to the line, while Tour du Labourd champion Stéphane Pétilleau was rolling out of the field together with "intruder" Larpe. In the end nobody could stop Duret, nobody could keep Lelay from grabbing spot number two, and Pétilleau accounted for the "intruder" in the battle for the remaining podium step, and another Armor Lux sensation, Route Bretonne winner Piotr Zelinski of Poland (the powerhouse from Brittany can boast also some of the top legs from Eastern Europe) won the bunch sprint 33 seconds behind.

"Manche Atlantique is the best amateur contest, is a race you have to win at least once in your career. I got it, and that's just great, even for a non-Breton rider like myself" Monsieur Duret commented all the way from cloud number nine after his triumphal ride.

36th Manche Atlantique (Jugon les Lacs to Plumelec, 158 km)
Top 15 Places

1. Sébastien Duret (Fra - Bretagne Armor Lux) - 03h55'22" (40.33 kph)
2. David Le Lay (Fra - Bretagne Armor Lux) - at 08"
3. Stéphane Petilleau (Fra - Bretagne Armor Lux) - at 17"
4. Mickaël Larpe (Fra - VC Roubaix) - at 21"
5. Piotr Zielinski (Pol - Bretagne Armor Lux) - at 33"
6. Guillaume Judas (Fra - VC Chartrain) - s.t.
7. Benoit Legrix (Fra - Vire) - s.t.
8. Guillaume Le Floc'h (Fra - Bretagne Armor Lux) - s.t.
9. Sylvain Cheval (Fra - UC Nantes Atlantique) - s.t.
10. Cyrille Gautier (Fra - Bretagne Armor Lux) - s.t.
11. Denis Cioban (Mol - Super Sport) - s.t.
12. Clement Mahé (Fra - Bic 2000) - s.t.
13. Tristan Le Yondre (Fra - Super Sport) - s.t.
14. Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra - Vendée U-Pays de la Loire) - s.t.
15. Yann Pivois (Fra - Bretagne Armor Lux) - s.t.

The fin de semaine we just left behind had another team leaving rivals with a bad taste in their mouths: CM Aubervilliers, also/better known as Auber93, occupied the whole podium of the Paris-Evreux single-day classic in Normandy. Jérémie Galland rode to his second success of the season (after the Saint Urbain leg of Plages Vendéennes circuit account-opener a few weeks ago) in the demanding challenge of 152 km., winning a nine-man sprint from team-mates Mathieu Drujon (leader of the Vendean series until the start of the final round) and Renaud Pioline.

The "kings of the podium" got into the thirteen-strong crucial move that went clear early into the race, along with two more Auber-men: Peter Brouzes and Morgan Chedhomme. Jérôme Frémin and Alexandre Lemair (USSA Pavilly-Barentin), Justin Jules (CA Mantes-la-Ville), Clément Mas (VC Rouen 76), Frédéric Mille (UC des Bords de Marne), Yoann Offredo (CC Nogent-sur-Oise), Thomas Ravenel and Noël Richet (Saint-Cyr Tours VLAC) were their breakaway companions. But Brouzes, Chedhomme, Ravene and Mas gave up in the last portion, and left nine men fighting over the glory. Other top-class riders did not have their best day in the saddle instead: Gaylord Cumont was 21st, Guillaume Blot finished 34th, 01’40” behind the winner, and Plages Vendéennes Circuit overall champion Franck Vermeulen didn't get higher than 42nd.

Paris-Evreux (Gasny to Evreux, 152 km): Top 20 Places
1. Jérémie Galland (Fra - CM Aubervilliers 93) - 03h54'52" (39 kph)
2. Mathieu Drujon (Fra - CM Aubervilliers 93) - s.t.
3. Renaud Pioline (Fra - CM Aubervilliers 93) - s.t.
4. Noël Richet (Fra - St Cyr Tours Val de Loire) - s.t.
5. Yoann Offredo (Fra - CC Nogent Sur Oise) - s.t.
6. Justin Jules (Fra - CA Mantes) - s.t.
7. Jérôme Fremin (Fra - USSAPB) - s.t.
8. Frédéric Mille (Fra - UC Bords de Marne) - s.t.
9. Alexandre Lemair (Fra - USSAPB) - s.t.
10. Morgan Chedhomme (Fra - CM Aubervilliers 93) - at 10"
11. Clément Mas (Fra - VC Rouen 76) - s.t.
12. Peter Brouzes (Fra - CM Aubervilliers 93) - at 14"
13. Thomas Ravenel (Fra - St Cyr Tours Val de Loire) - s.t.
14. Julien Barbier (Fra - USSAPB) - at 01'00"
15. Erwann Lollierou (Fra - UC Bords de Marne) - at 01'20"
16. Cédric Le Bris (Fra - CM Aubervilliers 93) - s.t.
17. Daniel Miskiewicz (Fra - UC Bords de Marne) - s.t.
18. Cyrille Patoux (Fra - VC Rouen 76) - s.t.
19. Yoann Victor (Fra - US Créteil Cyclisme) - s.t.
20. Romain Borgoo (Fra - CA Mantes) - s.t.

The last French Classic on the menu in the past few days was the Vienne Classic Espoirs. No less than 160 young riders contested the event, and first over the line at Chasseneuil-du-Poitou was Damien Gaudin (Vendée U). Vasili Khatuntsev of the Russian National Team, already in the limelight in past roundups, stole the show first through a daring solo escape, but was reeled in 40 km from the finish. The Russian just couldn't stay inside the bunch Sunday however, and was on the move again - with eleven more colleagues this time - with 30 km left. Inside the dirty dozen was also Gaudin, who launched a wicked and timely attack as the breakaway was going under the flamme rouge banner that marked the 1-kilometre-to-go point. He took the win, and got an Estonian (Tanel Kangert of Saint-Amandoise) and a fellow Frenchman (Jérôme Adnin racing with the Union Cyclicste Cholet outfit) besides him on the eventual podium.

Joe Cooper of New Zealand finished in 29th at 01'50" and fellow kiwis Ryan Wills (61st), Oliver Pierce (62nd) and Alex Meenhorst (67th) also crossed the line a further 21 seconds back, whereas Sherm Rodger added his name to the list of DNFers. Mickaël Renou kept poor Khatuntsev from having his efforts rewarded with the King of the Mountains crown, while Pôle Espoirs Toulouse beat the Russians and Blois CAC 41 in the teams classification.

Vienne Classic Espoirs (Chasseneuil-du-Poitou, 132 km)
Top 10 Places

1. Damien Gaudin (Fra - Vendée U Pays de la Loire)
2. Tanel Kangert (Est - RO Saint-Amandoise)
3. Jérôme Adnin (Fra - UC Cholet 49)
4. Kévin Denis (Fra - UC Sablé)
5. Mickaël Damiens (Fra - GSC Blagnac)
6. Jonathan Noyant (Fra - Vélophile Naintréenne)
7. Gildas Duret (Fra - Bressuire)
8. Julien Rabaud (Fra - EC Montmarault-Montluçon)
9. Nicolas Loth (Fra - OCC Antibes)
10. Léo Menville (Fra - Pôle Espoir Toulouse)

From La France to España, and more precisely to the northern region of Cantabria, home to one young gun event Saturday and another Sunday. The Gran Premio Ayuntamiento de Camargo kicked off the racing weekend over a route of 136 kilometres, with the start/finish line situated at Maliaño. The biggest prize went to a top athlete from home side "Peña Ciclista Sprint Camargo Roper", who couldn't hope for a better start to his season. David Gutiérrez kept the winning ways he was used to and powered away in the last portion of the course. He chased down all previous escapees first, an later sped off on his own towards a prestigious success. Best of the rest was Juan José Sánchez of the Diputación Ávila squad, while a member of the Basque contingent in the race won the small bunch sprint for third place. The Gran Premio drew one hundred seventy cyclists from Cantabria, the Basque Country and other nearby comunidades of Spain. See winners of the minor classifications down in the page.

24th GP Ayuntamiento de Camargo / Memorial Tinin Castañera
(Maliaño, 136 km - 1.12.2): Top 10 Places

1. David Gutiérrez (Spa - Peña Ciclista Sprint Camargo) - 03h24'57"
2. Juan J. Sánchez (Spa - Diputación Ávila) - at 16"
3. Carlos Juez (Spa - Bidelan Kirolgi) - at 50"
4. Xabier Aranguren (Spa - Baqué) - s.t.
5. Ivan Rybakov (Rus - Azpiru) - s.t.
6. Carlos Oyarzun (Spa - C. Oviedo) - at 54"
7. Eriz Ruiz de Erentxun (Spa - Bidelan Kirolgi) at 01'02"
8. José Esteban Parra (Spa - Alfus Tedes) - at 01'17"
9. Ugaitz Artola (Spa - Azpiru) - s.t.
10. Juan Luis Negueruela (Spa - Alfus Tedes) - s.t.

Hot Spot Sprints: Xabier Aranguren (Spa - Baqué)
Special Sprints: Pablo Aitor Bernal (Spa - Alfus Tedes)
Mountains: Mario García (Spa - Peña Ciclista Sprint Camargo)
Teams: Bidelan Kirolgi

Cantabrian teams scored again on home soil Sunday, but winner of the 62nd Gran Premio San José / 6th Memorial Pedro Echevarría, running over a course of 126 kilometres around Astillero town, was a rookie from Cádiz, Andalusia: Juan José Lobato, who recently switched to the Würth ranks after capturing the National Road Race Title as a Junior the past year, had a fantastic debut in the Under 23 class. The teenaged talent from the very South of Spain opened his team's 2007 account as he put in a strong attack in the last kilometre of the last climb, Cuesta de La Planchada, and beat fellow podium place getters Gorka Izaguirre and Francisco Carrasco on the line by a few metres to take his first (unexpected?) win. Prior to that, a seven-strong breakaway group formed while covering lap two of the circuit this race consisted of. They were hauled back with a couple laps to go, and the last hilly kilometre proved decisive. Würth took the honours also in the Teams classification, but left the Meta Volantes and KOM victories to riders from other squads.

62nd GP San José / 6th Memorial P. Echevarría (Astillero, 126 km)
Top 15 Places

1. Juan José Lobato (Spa - Würth) - 02h58'25"
2. Gorka Izaguirre (Spa - Seguros Bilbao) - s.t.
3. Francisco J. Carrasco (Spa - Alfus Tedes) - s.t.
4. Ibán Leanizbarrutia (Spa - Würth) - at 04"
5. Alejandro Magallanes (Spa - Froiz) - at 05"
6. Roberto Cobo (Spa - Baqué) - s.t.
7. Pedro Merino (Spa - Saunier Duval) - s.t.
8. Javier Fernández (Spa - Würth) - s.t.
9. Alfonso Suaña (Spa - Viña Magna) - s.t.
10. Egoitz García (Spa - Seguros Bilbao) - s.t.
11. Miguel Mínguez (Spa - Suminan) - s.t.
12. Ventura Angulo (Spa - Alfus Tedes) - s.t.
13. Ignacio Cabello (Spa - CC Camargo) - s.t.
14. Borja Calviño (Spa - Cambre) - s.t.
15. José Carlos Lara (Spa - Würth) - s.t.

Hot Spot Sprints: David Delgado (Spa - Viña Magna)
Mountains: Iván Treceño (Spa - Oviedo)
Teams: 1. Würth

There must be some unwritten law in the Spanish U23 peloton saying that, if a rider from a Cádiz wins one race in the northern lands of the country (like Cantabria), a northener must win one in the Cádiz area. The 50th Gran Premio Ciclista Chiclanero, held Sunday over 120 kilometres with the start/finish at the Cádiz province town of Chiclana de La Frontera, certainly abode by such law, as it ended with Jorge Martín Montenegro of the Castillean team Diputación de León atop the podium.

Seventy-four riders from ten different teams lined up for the start at Chiclana's Reyes Católicos Avenue. Initially we had the usual flurry of attacks, counter-attacks and breakaway groups coming and going. But what followed was (well, hopefully) quite unusual for a cycling race: a car of the organizers took a wrong turn and misled the dozen riders on the front at the moment into following! As the breakaway got lost in the middle of nowhere, the race was consequently neutralized and …re-started! But the peloton resolved to stay together until the finishing line this time, such that it all came down to a field sprint, with Montenegro pipping William Aránzazu (Cosaor-Costa Azahar) on the line for first place. Diego Rodríguez Campo got a KOM win for the young gun branch of Andalucía-Caja Sur, and his team-mate Cecilio Gutiérrez Pastor topped the Metas Volantes ranking. The Cosaor boys from the Valencian Community took some solace in winning the teams classification, and Saúl Luna Ramírez (Soctec Huévar Aljarafe) stormed to the top of the Copa de Andalucía series standings.

50th Gran Premio Ciclista Chiclanero
(Chiclana de La Frontera, 120 km - 1.12.3)

1. Jorge Martín Montenegro (Spa - Diputación de León)
2. William Aránzazu (Spa - Cosaor-Costa Azahar) - s.t.

We seal this roundup by stepping outside our usual boundaries (Italy, France and Spain) and take a small trip to the Istria peninsula of Croatia, playing host to Sunday's Porec Trophy UCI-1.2 sanctioned one-day classic. The strong contingent from nearby Slovenia unsurprisingly dominated the leader board. First across the line at the end of the 165-km challenge was one of the best Slovenian prospects around: Marko Kump. The youngest member (he was born on September 9th, 1988) of Kolesarki Klub Adria Mobil, the team Janez Brajkovič used to race for as an Under 23, powered to victory as he got his legs going in the last, uphill 300 metres. He beat fellow - but more accomplished - countryman Grega Bole, while Italy's Ivan Fanelli stopped Aldo Ino Ilesic of Perutnina from making an all-Slovenian podium complete.

We had a multi-ethnic top ten, with riders from seven different nations (and ten different teams), but surprisingly no contenders from the host country inside (the top finisher from Croatia, Ivan Seder, was just 33rd) . Hopefully for the fans there, Croatian cycling will take redemption in the forthcoming Istrian Spring Trophy stage race, running from the next Thursday thru Sunday. Apparently more entitled to hope are fans of the Adria Mobil team, who can rejoice at Kump's first successful performances, but also bank their hopes on the other young talents the squad is packed with, starting from Simon Spilak.

Porec Trophy (Porec, 165 km - 1.2): Top 10 Places
1. Marko Kump (Slo - KK Adria Mobil) - 03h45'02" (43.993 km/h)
2. Grega Bole (Slo - Sava) - s.t.
3. Ivan Fanelli (Ita - Team Cinelli-Endeka) - s.t.
4. Aldo Ino Ilesic (Slo - KK Perutnina Ptuj) - s.t.
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor - Team Maxbo-Bianchi) - s.t.
6. Kim Marius Nielsen (Den - Glud & Marstrand Horsens) - s.t.
7. Adam Homolka (Cze - Team Swiag-Teka) - s.t.
8. Bartolomiej Matysiak (Pol - Legia) - s.t.
9. Mario Holler (Aut - RC Arbö Resch & Frisch Wels) - s.t.
10. Matic Strgar (Slo - KK Radenska Powerbar) - s.t.
…139. Michael Ryan Sullivan (Aus - Permac Brisot Libanese) - at 54"

Starters: 192. Finishers: 57.

Complete Results here (pdf file).

Races and Winners

Young Guns News Roundup #1 (02/20/2007)

  • Boucles Catalanes Alexandre Blain
  • Circuit Méditerranéen Benjamin Giraud
  • Route de l'Atlantique Giovanni Carini
  • Boucles de la Soule Charles Guilbert
  • Plages Vendéennes #1 (Perrier) Mathieu Drujon
  • La Tramontane Jérémie Dérangère
  • Ronde du Canigou Jérémie Dérangère
  • Circuit de la Nive David Le Lay
  • Plages Vendéennes #2 (Luçon) Mathieu Drujon
  • Grand Prix de Peymeinade Julien Antomarchi
  • 41st Circuito del Guadiana Pedro José Vera

    Young Guns News Roundup #2 (02/23/2007)

  • Plages Vendéennes #3 (Saint-Urbain) Jérémie Galland
  • Ronde du Pays-Basque Stéphane Bonsergent
  • Plages Vendéennes #4 (Saint-Julien-des-Landes) Bastien Delrot
  • Le Tour du Labourd Stephane Petilleau

    Young Guns News Roundup #3 (02/27/2007)

  • Coppa San Geo Hrvoje Miholijevic
  • Memorial Giuseppe Polese Mauro Abel Richeze
  • GP Firenze-Empoli Cristian Benenati
  • Trofeo Caduti di Soprazocco Salvatore Mancuso
  • GP Brefer Edoardo Costanzi
  • GP Lavi (Circuito di Paderno) Marcello Pavarin
  • GP La Torre Fucecchio Uladzimir Autka
  • Gran Premio d'Apertura Fermo Davide D'Angelo
  • Souvenir Vietto-Gianello Thierry Hupont
  • Plages Vendéennes #5 (Chantonnay) Bastien Delrot
  • GP Souvenir Jean Masse Ruslan Sambris
  • Plages Vendéennes #6 (Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie) Gert Joeaar
  • Trophée de l'Essor Basque Yuri Trofimov (Overall)
  • Trofeo Guerrita Jesús Buendia
  • Subida a la Sierra de los Califas José Luis Roldan
  • GP Inauguració Memorial Joaquim Sabaté Àlex Mollà
  • Gran Premio Caja Cantabria Mikel Olano

    Young Guns News Roundup #4 (03/03/2007)

  • Plages Vendéennes #7 (Saint Maixent sur Vie) Guillaume Blot
  • Plages Vendéennes #8 (Moutiers Mauxfaits) Franck Vermeulen
  • Trofeo ZSSDI Unione Circoli Sportivi Sloveni in Italia - PREVIEW

    Young Guns News Roundup #5 (03/06/2007)

  • Trofeo ZSSDI Unione Circoli Sportivi Sloveni in Italia Simone Ponzi
  • Coppa Città di Melzo Edoardo Costanzi
  • Coppa Belricetto / Memorial Gualandi Matteo Busato
  • Gran Premio Apertura Città di Pescara Sante Di Nizio
  • Trofeo Colline Capannoresi Francesco Ginanni
  • Gran Premio Ceda Jacopo Guarnieri
  • Trois Jours du Vaucluse Sébastien Turgot (Overall)
  • Circuit de la Vallée de la Loire Jonathan Thiré
  • GP de Carqueiranne Gatis Smukulis
  • GP d'Ouverture Pierre Pinel Ivan Seledkov
  • Tour des Communes de la Vallée du Bedat Jean Christophe Péraud
  • Paris-Ezy Franck Perque
  • Route Bretonne / Souvenir Loïc Le Flohic Piotr Zielinski
  • Melrandaise Salva Jésus Vilchez
  • Grand Prix d'Ouverture Saint-Hilaire du Harcouët Gaylord Cumont
  • Aiztondo Klasikoa Óscar Puyol
  • Trofeo Diputación Alicante José Belda (Overall)

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