While several peloton stars of today are about to battle each other at the Grande Boucle, close to as many "stars of tomorrow" are already keeping their legs on the move by battling each other at the European Under23 and Junior Championships, currently ongoing in the "great lakes" area of Piedmont, in the north-west of Italy. Battling each other ... and the clock: both opening events of the four-day Champs, that kicked off in "Giro d'Italia-esque" (aka grey skies, wind and notably rain) weather conditions this past Thursday, were the Individual TTs reserved for Under 23 contenders, and held over 25.3 kilometres from the Lago d'Orta lakeside town of Pettenasco to better-known - to some at least - Stresa located on the Lago Maggiore west shore. Italy and The Netherlands shared the first spoils, with Adriano Malori
taking the big prize in the Men's contest and Ellen Van Dijk
giving the women's race podium some orange flavour.
It was up to Van Dijk, born on February 11th, 1987 and usually racing with the Vrienden van Het Platteland outfit, to enter her name first in the winner's list. The flying Dutchwoman beat two Ukrainian girls, Svitlana Galyuk and (track specialist) Lesya Kalitovska, by 05 and 08 seconds respectively. Van Dijk had the best time at the halfway point check (17'03") too, as she bettered Regina Bruin's record by about two secs - her fellow countrywoman Bruin couldn't place higher than fifth in the final standing though. "I prepared for this race very carefully; I liked the route as I tested it yesterday (Thursday) and that's when I realized that I could do fine here. Now I'm going to stay focused on the upcoming road race; I hope that I can be a factor again" were Van Dijk's after-race comments.
European Championships: U23 Women's ITT
1. Ellen Van Dijk (Netherlands) - 32'33" (46.636 kph)
2. Svitlana Galyuk (Ukraine) - at 05"
3. Lesya Kalitovska (Ukraine) - at 08"
4. Svetlana Burchenkova (Russia) - at 18"
5. Regina Bruins (Netherlands) - at 24"
6. Ausrine Trebaite (Lithuania) - at 01'01"
7. Daiva Tuslaite (Lithuania) - at 01'09"
8. Martina Sablikova (Czech Republic) - s.t.
9. Lisa Brennauer (Germany) - at 01'13"
10. Viktoriya Kondel (Russia) - at 01'15"
It might be a little too early to regard him as "the next Marco Pinotti" even if, perhaps, the guy is even stronger and on the way to getting better results than the current High Road/Team Columbia professional rider. But there's one thing you can be sure of: Adriano Malori
has got talent. And grinta
. And great legs. And even an excellent condition that helped him clinch the Italian U23 ITT title less than two weeks ago, just to continue his winning ways on home soil as he rocked the clock Thursday. Not even the "usual" TTing machines from Russia could stop the young gun from Parma city: Timofey Kritskiy and Artem Ovechkin had to be content with landing on the lowest steps of the podium, seven and 21 seconds behind the Filmop-Ramonda-Bottoli-Parolin Team sensation respectively, and the ultra-talented Dmytri Sokolov finished in fourth place only. But Malori had to pull a superb performance out of the bag and average a sensational 54.34 kph in order to avoid an all-Russian podium.
"I've been longing for such a result for a long time" the race winner said, adding that: "I trained hard, and got better week after week. I made the top three in the last two years, but always on the lowest step of the podium, and had to see someone else besides me wear the jersey. Finally the time has come for me to make it to the top, but I still have a hard time realizing that". In fact Malori took the bronze at Valkenburg two years ago - in the junior class - and in Bulgaria's capital city Sofia the past season, at his debut in the U23 ranks. But he definitely makes a point: the time has come! And time will come for Adriano Malori to make the news also in the professional peloton in years to come.
European Championships: U23 Men's ITT
1. Adriano Malori (Italy) - 27'56" (54.34 km/h)
2. Timofei Kritskiy (Russia) - at 07"
3. Artem Ovechkin (Russia) - at 21"
4. Dmytri Sokolov (Russia)
5. Rafael Serrano (Spain)
6. Andreas Hengin (Germany)
7. Tony Gallopin (France)
8. Geert Joeart (Estonia)
9. Gatis Smukulis (Latvia)
10. Krijstian Koren (Slovenia)
The Euro Champs continue Friday with the very young guns competing in the "race of truth": both the Junior Women and Men have to cover a 16-kilometre route completely on the Lago Maggiore lakeshore, from Arona (a place not new to top-quality bike racing) to Stresa, whilst the road race are going to come on Saturday and Sunday over several laps of a local circuit around Verbania-Pallanza, a little further northward.