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Young Guns Weekly Review - February 25, 2005
 
By Fabio
Date: 2/25/2005
Young Guns Weekly Review - February 25, 2005
 

We were among the first ones to make the name of Yaroslav Popovych known to a broader audience when he was "just" the so-called "Eddy Merckx of the Amateurs", and used to smash opposition in the Italian U23 scene only. We wrote about new cycling sensations like Paride Grillo (the newest name on the sprinting scene, able to give a run for his money to Robbie McEwen and come close to victory, finishing ahead of the likes Stuart O'Grady in some sprints, at his pro cycling debut at Tour Down Under) and Rubén Bongiorno (dual stage winner and countless times in the top spots at Langkawi). We posted results from TDU winner Luis León Sánchez when he was still an "Espoir" rider at Spain's Wúrth.

And our window on the young gun world stays open in 2005 too, as our report on the stars of tomorrow continue into the current season. We start with a "weekly review" of the latest events from France (whose Espoir season got underway early this month) and Italy (whose U23/Elite-2 kick-off came this past Saturday), with seven races each held during the past seven days, while there was no top event ongoing in Spain, and the start of the Belgian-Dutch season is yet to come.

The Italian scene was dominated by one of the nation's most promising youngsters, Daniele Di Nucci, who started his season in pure "Petacchi style", with three wins in as many races over just four days, while the French scene featured the Circuit Plages Vendéennes Series, and some great performances by English-speaking riders from the U.K. and Australia. Main results and details of all contests are available down in the page.

The date-based list of events we cover in this special report is as follows (rider names refer to the race winners):

Friday, February 18th

11th Souvenir René Vietto-Dante Gianello Jonathan Locke (GBR)

Saturday, February 19th

81st Coppa San Geo Roberto Traficante (Ita)
18th Firenze-Empoli Daniele Di Nucci (Ita)
Plages Vendéennes Stage 5/Soullans Joel Pearson (Aus)
GP de Vence / Souvenir Jean Alech Benoit Luminet (Fra)

Sunday, February 20th

35th Trofeo Caduti di Soprazocco Daniele Di Nucci (Ita)
5th G.P. Brefer Marco Gelain (Ita)
43rd GP La Torre Alex Norberto Ardila Cano (Col)
33rd Circuito di Paderno di Ponzano Veneto - GP Lavi Alberto Curatolo (Ita)
Plages Vendéennes Stage 6/St.Gilles Croix de Vie Jonathan Dayus (GBR)
GP de la Ville d'Antibes-Sophia Antipolis Ben Johnson (Aus)

Tuesday, February 22nd

35th Sanremo-Savona Daniele Di Nucci (Ita)
Plages Vendéennes Stage 7/Moutiers les Mauxfaits Benoît Daeninck (Fra)

Thursday, February 24th

Plages Vendéennes Stage 8/Notre Dame des Monts Joel Pearson (Aus)

PS - Riders from the Under 23/Elite 2 peloton also challenged the pros in last week-end's "Criterium des Espoirs" open race, which we covered in two separate articles available in the links at the bottom of the page.



81st Coppa San Geo (145 km. - 1.12 Saturday, February 19th) The 2005 season got underway in Italy with the race often referred to as "the Milan-San Remo" of the Elite-2, Under-23 Class, the so-called "Coppa San Geo", held in the Brescia province of Lombardy each month of February. Taking the peloton from the town of Paitone to Cisano, with a nine-lap final circuit which started at San Felice del Benaco and contained the Cisano climb (peaking with 3k from the line) for a total distance of 145 km, this one-day event had a clear winner: Italian Roberto Traficante of the Veneto-based Team Parolin-Sorelle Ramonda, the quickest rider in a small bunch sprint contested also by Australian Gene Michael Bates, KOM winner at Tour Down Under one month ago and fifth place finisher today.

Bates, wearing the jersey of GS Zalf Desirée Fior (the team Damiano Cunego used to race for when he was just a little boy in the Under 23 class, e.g. until the end of the 2001 season) was part of a breakaway group that went clear - after all attacks launched in the first half of this hotly-fought contest, that saw just 34 athletes cross the finish line, were chased down - on the Cisano slopes with some 60-65 km. remaining, and featured also Italians Matteo Priamo (GS 93 Promosport) and Cristiano Salerno (Zoccorinese-Bottoli Artoni), as well as Belarusian Andrei Kunitski (Palazzago-AB Isolanti). The leading quartet gained up to a minute, but got caught by a small chasing group of some ten riders (Bates and Priamo were the last escapees to give up), and future winner Traficante among them, with just two kilometres left. It was the same Traficante who drove the chase, along with Sardinian rider Gianluca Moi, and the pace the two guys set as they put the hammer down on the Cisano took its toll on the legs of some presumably faster sprinters, who got pipped at the line by the Team Parolin leader. Traficante made the most out of his excellent condition, which he found also by getting kilometres into his legs in some Argentine races (Vuelta a San Juan and Doble Bragado, where teammate Maximilan Richeze notched three victories) earlier in 2005, and took line honors in front of Gene Bates' teammate Maurizio Girardini of Gibo Simoni's home region Trentino, and combative Venetian Matteo Priamo, while Gianluca Moi started the sprint first but ended up fourth, straight ahead of the Australian.


Gene Michael Bates and his black hat, in a picture dating back to October 2004.
The talented Aussie promoted the breakaway of the day and snatched fifth spot.
Photo by Fabio. All Rights Reserved

It was a well-needed, and truly welcomed, successful start to the season for Traficante, Italy's ITT National champion as a Junior back in the days of 2002. The 1984-born, 1.84m Milanese (whose father is from the South of Italy and whose mother is from Venezuela), at his third season in the dilettanti ranks, was back to a race podium for the first time since his last win in an "open" (for both Junior and U23 riders) race in September 2003. A victory that costed him dearly though as Traficante, then riding with the Brescia-based Egidio-Unidelta squad, chased down and beat a teammate of his who was on a solo break. Team Manager Bruno Leali (a former pro rider of the late 80s and early 90s), didn't appreciate the move, and Traficante had to switch to Team Parolin. But such polemics are a matter of the past, and so is the accident that forced him to stay out of the saddle, with a broken arm, for most of the 2004 season, after his Coppa San Geo success, which "provides me with a much-needed moral boost, and help me to continue believing in my chances. I'm finding back my good form, and I promise I'll try not to make mistakes from now on" in Roberto Traficante's post-win words.

Results - Top 10 Places
1. Roberto Traficante (Ita - Team Parolin) - 03h41' (39.367 kph)
2. Maurizio Girardini (Ita - Zalf Désirée Fior) - s.t.
3. Matteo Priamo (Ita - GS 93 Promosport) - s.t.
4. Gianluca Moi (Ita - Palazzago-Ab Isolanti) - s.t.
5. Gene Bates (Aus - Zalf Désirée Fior) - s.t.
6. Drasutis Stundzia (Lit - Cyber Team) - s.t.
7. Cristiano Salerno (Ita - Zoccorinese-Bottoli Artoni) - s.t.
8. Andrei Kunitski (Blr - Palazzago AB Isolanti) - s.t.
9. Aristide Ratti (Ita - Zoccorinese-Bottoli Artoni) - s.t.
10. Roberto Ferrari (Ita - UC Trevigiani-Dynamon) - s.t.

Starters: 167. Finishers. 34.



18th Firenze-Empoli (134 km. - 1.12. Saturday, Febr. 19) Or the Daniele Di Nucci Show - Part One. While many in the Elite 2 & Under 23 peloton were kicking off their season in Lombardy, Daniele Di Nucci started in fine style as he stormed to victory in the traditional Tuscan opener, the 134-km. classic from Florence to Empoli, now in its 18th edition. It was the man's second success here, as he captured also the 2003 contest. And just like in the 2003 event Di Nucci made his winning move on the Monterappoli climb, this time along with Emanuele Rizza of Empoli-based Maltinti Lampadari-Solgomma (the team Di Nucci himself was racing for when he got his previous victory), but unlike 2003 there was no two-man sprint Saturday: Di Nucci sped off on his own with eight km. to go, and finished with an advantage of forty seconds over his former breakaway companion. Italy's national road champion (in the U23 category) Riccardo Riccó rounded off a triumphal day for the Grassi-Marco Pantani team complete as he led home the next bunch, that contained some 20 more riders, to fill the remaining podium spot. "I'm very happy with this success, which is a proper reward for all the work I've done thus far. But what mostly matter to me is that I was the first athlete in my team able to honor the memory of Marco Pantani with a victory" the winner commented after crossing the line.

Results - Top 10 Places
1. Daniele Di Nucci (Ita - Grassi-Marco Pantani) (38.841 kph)
2. Emanuele Rizza (Ita - Maltinti Lampadari-Solgomma) - at 40"
3. Riccardo Riccò (Ita - Grassi-Marco Pantani) - at 01'30"
4. Marco Bandiera (Ita - Zalf Désirée Fior)
5. Fabio Sabatini (Ita - Cargo Embassy-Pedale Larigiano)
6. Diego Pascale (Ita - Maltinti Lampadari-Solgomma)
7. Bernardo Riccio (Ita - Cargo Embassy-Pedale Larigiano)
8. Alessio Signego (Ita - Promociclo)
9. Davide Bonuccelli (Ita - Maltinti Lampadari-Solgomma)
10. Teddi Turini (Ita - Calzature Natalini G. Praga)



35th Trofeo Caduti di Soprazocco (150 km. - 1.12 Sunday, February 20th) Or the Daniele Di Nucci Show - Part Two. This past Sunday riders were back in the saddle in the same Brescia area that played host to Coppa San Geo for another classic of the Italian Elite2/U23 calendar, the "Trofeo Caduti di Soprazocco", in its 35th edition (the race consisted of a first part of 27.8 km. from Soprazocco to San Biagio, followed by a loop of 11,7 km. to be covered eight times, and five laps of a final circuit of 5,8 km.).

Twenty-four hours after getting his first victory of the season under his belt as he soloed in for the win at Empoli, the 1981-born athlete from Latium scored again in a similar fashion. Di Nucci powered away with less than 5 km. to go, on the difficult San Giacomo ascent, and after picking up and dropping the Palazzago duo of Gianluca Moi and Andrei Kunitski (coached by Olivano Locatelli, the man who discovered the talent of Yaroslav Popovych and countless other great riders) crossed the line with an advantage of 27 seconds over bunch sprint winner Matteo Priamo, at his second podium finish in as many days, while accomplished Aristide Ratti, wearer of the maglia Azzurra of the Italian National Team at the past World champs, ended up on the lowest step of the podium after some annoying mechanicals prevented him from contesting Saturday's sprint. Speaking of Coppa San Geo protagonists, Australia's Gene Bates had another top result on Lombard roads as he took sixth place today Saturday's winner Roberto Traficante didn't get higher than 27th instead.

Priamo displayed the same fighting attitude as he did Saturday, but all of his attempts were chased down, and so were several attacks from other Italian (going under names like Gianluca Moi, Francesco Gavazzi, Coletta, Ceralli, Bono, Vaccari, Graziani, Sanvido et al.) and foreign (like Russian Denis Sosnovshchenko, Belarusian Kunitski and Uzbekistan's Muradjan Khalmuratov and Denis Shkarpeta) athletes. Until Di Nucci made his perfectly-timed move, showing off his great condition and leaving the others to battle for the second place. Di Nucci, a top three finisher here in 2004 too (when the race was won by Nicola Scattolin, curiously winner of Firenze-Empoli the day before …), praised the excellent work his Grassi-Marco Pantani teammates, Mattia Vaccari and Andrea Sanvido in particular, did for him throughout the race, protecting the man until he launched the decisive attack.

Results - Top 15 Places
1. Daniele Di Nucci (Ita - Grassi-Marco Pantani) - 03h49'00" (39.301 kph)
2. Matteo Priamo (Ita - GS 93 Promosport) - at 27"
3. Aristide Ratti (Ita - Bottoli Artoni Zoccorinese) - s.t.
4. Mauro Da Dalto (Ita - Marchiol Ima Famila) - s.t.
5. Devid Garbelli (Ita - Cyber Team Panni) - s.t.
6. Gene Bates (Aus - GS Zalf Désirée Fior) - s.t.
7. Carlo Scognamiglio (Ita - UC Bergamasca 1902) - s.t.
8. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita - Egidio Unidelta-Garda) - s.t.
9. Simone Meda (Ita - GS Italfine Podenzano) - s.t.
10. Alessandro Bisolti (Ita - Palazzago-AB Isolanti) - s.t.
11. Matteo Bono (Ita - Egidio Unidelta Garda) - s.t.
12. Fabrice Piemontesi (Ita - Team Parolin) - s.t.
13. Gianluca Moi (Ita - Palazzago-AB Isolanti) - s.t.
14. Walter Prock (Ita - Gavardo Tecmor) - s.t.
15. Matic Strgar (Slo - Radenca Slovenia) - s.t.

Starters: 156. Finishers: 48.



5th G.P. Brefer (101 km. - 1.12 Sunday, February 20th): Unable to get any of their riders on the podium of either Lombard races held over the week-end, the Unione Ciclisti Trevigiani-Dynamon, one of Italy's strongest young gun squads, could celebrate the 1-2 punch they gave their rivals on their home soil of Veneto at least. After Austrian Harald Starzengruber dominated the 2004 edition of Gran Premio Brefer, whose finish line is situated at the hamlet of Castello di Roganzuolo near Treviso, it was up to Marco Gelain and Jonathan Righetto to continue Trevigianì's winning tradition in the race. And they proved up to the task, taking the top two spots of an all-Italian top 10, while "best of the rest" was accomplished sprinter Angelo Ciccone, who also happened to be the only Italian track rider at the Athens Olympics this past summer.

Results - Top 10 Places
1. Marco Gelain (Ita - UC Trevigiani-Dynamon) - 02h24'14'' (42.098 kph)
2. Jonathan Righetto (Ita - UC Trevigiani-Dynamon) - s.t.
3. Angelo Ciccone (Ita - Marchiol Ima-Famila Site) - s.t.
4. Michele Milan (Ita - GSCaneva Concrete S.Marco) - s.t.
5. Manuel Belletti (Ita - CT Eternedile) - s.t.
6. Francesco Canal (Ita - GS Permac Brisot-Bibanese) - s.t.
7. Fabrizio Cazzola (Ita - Solvepi Bonaldo Miche-VC Orsago) - s.t.
8. David Bevilacqua (Ita - GS Permac Brisot-Bibanese) - s.t.
9. Luca Zanetti (Ita - GS Termopiave Mictu Cassolato) - s.t.
10. Ilario Contessa (Ita - S.C. Team Futura Filmop)



43rd GP La Torre - Fucecchio (100 km. - 1.12 Sunday, February 20th): After the Firenze-Empoli opener, the Tuscan week-end continued with another classic, Sunday's Gran Premio La Torre, now in its 43rd edition. With Daniele "Petacchi" Di Nucci, busy winning elsewhere, not part of the 119-strong peloton, nobody could stop the local team Maltinti Lampadari-Solgomma from taking the win on the undulating route to Fucecchio, in the Florence area. Saturday's runner-up Emanuele Rizza graced the podium for the second day in row, but as third place finisher only. His main task today was covering the all-out attack from Colombian teammate Alex Norberto Ardila Cano anyway, and he did succeed in this sense, as the South-American won the race at the end of a solo breakaway of more than 50 km. Ardila Cano couldn't put more than 40 seconds or so into the chasers, who even halved the gap late in the race. But a twenty-second lead proved more than enough for the Colombian climber, born in Bogotá on March 13, 1983, and member of his country's national team at the Verona Worlds in the past month of October, to score his first ever victory on European soil. Alessandro Formentelli of the Palazzago team won the sprint for second place in front of Rizza, while Italy's Junior Road Race Champion Eros Capecchi had an excellent debut in the Under 23 category as he snatched fourth. Without Daniele Di Nucci as team leader, the Grassi-Marco Pantani squad couldn't get better than Tommaso Caneschi's ninth-place result instead.

Results - Top 10 Places
1. Alex N. Ardilla Cano (Col - Maltinti Lampadari-Solgomma) (38.217 kph)
2. Alessandro Formentelli (Ita - Palazzago- AB Isolanti-Vellutex) - at 20''
3. Emanuele Rizza (Ita - GS Maltinti Lampadari-Solgomma) - s.t.
4. Eros Capecchi (Ita - GS Mastromarco) - s.t.
5. Davide Mucelli (Ita - Cargo Embassy-Larigiano) - s.t.
6. Guntars Mihailovs (Lat - SC Ciaponi Edilizia ISS) - s.t.
7. Eddy Lorefice (Ita - Cargo Embassy-Larigiano) - s.t.
8. Ivan Grossi (Ita - MCS Bedogni) - s.t.
9. Tommaso Caneschi (Ita - GS Grassi-Marco Pantani) - s.t.
10. Filippo Salvia (Ita - Gragnano SC Pertroli).



33rd Circuito di Paderno di Ponzano Veneto - Gran Premio Lavi (90 km. - 1.12 Sunday, February 20th): While Marco Gelain and Jonathan Righetto where busy crushing opposition at the nearby town of Castello di Roganzolo, another Unione Ciclisti Trevigiani rider produced an excellent result in the Veneto region of Italy this past Sunday. Lombard sprinter Roberto Ferrari couldn't take line honors, but rode to a good second place in the 33rd Paderno Circuit-GP Lavi, won by Venetian athlete Alberto Curatolo of the Marchiol Ima-Famila Site team (taking revenge after their fastman Ciccone was pipped by Gelain and Righetto at GP Brefer) in a bunch sprint, while Roberto Longo of the Francesco Moser-sponsored Bata squad filled the remaining top three spot. Luca Amoriello of GS Zalf Desirée Fior possibly established a new record as he made the top ten in this race for the third straight season, but failed to hit the podium for the third time in a row, his best result being a fourth place finish in 2003. Just try again next time, Luca ...

Results - Top 10 Places
1. Alberto Curatolo (Ita - Marchiol-Famila Site) - 02h14'05" (40.273 kph)
2. Roberto Ferrari (Ita - U.C. Trevigiani-Dynamon)
3. Roberto Longo (Ita - Bata Moser)
4. Davide Girlanda (Ita - VC Mantovani Rovigo)
5. Andrea Grendene (Ita - Team Parolin)
6. Ricardo Bazzo (Ita - UC Trevigiani-Dynamon)
7. Loris Gobbi (Ita - US. Fausto Coppi-Gazzera Videa)
8. Luca Amoriello (Ita - Zalf Desirèe Fior-Pasta Zara)
9. Marco Borgato (Ita - Team Parolin)
10. Andrea Minuzzo (Ita - GS Termopiave-Meccanica 2 P)



35th Sanremo-Savona (123 km. - 1.12 Tuesday, February 22nd): Or the Daniele Di Nucci Show - Part Three. The young gun from Latium made his Petacch-ish start to the season complete as he scored his third victory in as many races - and close to as many days - this past Tuesday, in the San Remo-Savona classic (formerly known as Menton-Savona), adding his name to a list of winners featuring, in recent editions, the likes of Gianluca Bortolami (1989), Fabio Casartelli (1991 and 1992), Gianmatteo Fagnini (1993), Biagio Conte (1995), Giuliano Figueras (1996) and Ivan Basso (1998), while the last two editions were won by Italians Gianluca Coletta and Elia Rigotto respectively. But after two sensational solo wins Di Nucci - fifth-place getter at Savona twelve months before - showed that his legs are so good he can even sprint well, and took the honors in a blanket finish at the end of the 123-km. ride along the Ligurian coast (with some uphill riding as the route turned inland every now and then).

The race, boasting an international field of participants, saw a flurry of attacks go since the beginning, although it was only after km. 70 that someone could really make the gap: the Velo Club Marseille pair of France's Remy Pauriol and Moldova's Alexander Sabalin opened up a maximum advantage of 01'56" by km. 95. They were reeled in with just 5 km. left, and soon later it was the turn of the all-Italian duo of Palazzago's Gianluca Moi (very active also in the past weekend races) and lesser-known Mirko Selvaggi (Embassy Cargo-Pool Ciclistico Pedale Larigiano). Moi was immediately chased down, while Selvaggi stayed clear until 2km. from the line.

But his hopes of a victory on the soil of his home region Liguria were dashed too, and it all came down to a bunch sprint with the man in red and green colors of the Grassi-Marco Pantani team scoring his hat-trick of early season wins and raising his arms in triumph again, while Daniele Callegarin (podium finisher in the past edition) and Aristide Ratti (stricken with bad luck for the second time in four days) got caught in a small pile-up on the final straight and couldn't contest the sprint. The Viris Vigevano staff were certainly delighted with Alex Broggi's second place result, while Coppa San Geo winner Roberto Traficante continued his run of good form as he made it to the podium at Savona too. Carlo Scognamiglio of UC Bergamasca improved his 2004 seventh place finish by two places, but remained far from the top three spots.

Results - Top 10 Places
1 Daniele Di Nucci (Ita - Grassi-Marco Pantani) - 02h42' (45.396 kph)
2 Alex Broggi (Ita - Viris Vigevano) - s.t.
3. Roberto Traficante (Ita - Team Parolin-Sorelle Ramonda) - s.t.
4. Danilo Colombo (Ita - GS Podenzano-Brunero) - s.t.
5. Carlo Scognamiglio (Ita - UC Bergamasca 1902) - s.t.
6. Marco Frapporti (Ita - SC Unidelta-Egidio) - s.t.
7. Julien El Fares (IFra - VC La Pomme Marseille) - s.t.
8. Adam Krajewski (Pol - Centro Convenienza Esse) - s.t.
9. Alberto Di Lorenzo (Ita - GS Bottoli Artoni-Zoccorinese) - s.t.
10. Tommaso Caneschi (Ita - Grassi-Marco Pantani).



Plages Vendéennes Circuit - Stage 5/Soullans: (135.3 km; Saturday, February 19th) Known by historians as the cradle of French conservative "counter-revolution" back in the 1790s, the Vendée region of Western France has a truly different meaning to cycling and riders and fans this time of the season: it's the cradle of the first race series in the Elite 2-Under 23 scene, the so-called "Circuit des Plages Vendéennes" (Vendean Beaches Circuit). This eight-leg event kicked off at Saint Michel en L'Herm the previous week-end to end at Notre Dame des Monts a dozen days later. Stage winner in the first half of the series were Belgian Peter Ronsse (Jartazi-Revor) at Saint Michel, Britain's Russel Downing at Saint Jean des Monts, Criterium des Espoits future stage winner Médéric Clain at Chantonnay (with Downing snatching third), and Russell Downing again at Saint Révérend a week ago. But the series continued over this week-end and finished Thursday, with more outstanding results produced by English-speaking and French athletes. Saturday's 135-km. ride around the town of Soullans saw an Aussie take line honors. Victorian Joel Pearson of the France-based Côtes d'Armor Cyclisme was the fastest in a three-man sprint ahead of the French duo of Thimothée Lefrançois , fourth place getter in the St Jean de Monts leg, and Dimitri Champion (who almost lived up to his last name as the was second in the U23 ITT at the past French Championship …) The bunch came in five seconds behind, and was led home by Martinican rider Hervé Arcade, winner of the local Tour of the Caribbean Island in 2004, who won the sprint for fourth place.

Results - Top 10 Places
1. Joel Pearson (Aus - Côtes d'Armor Cyclisme) - 03h11'11" (42.462 kph)
2. Thimothée Lefrançois (Fra - UC Nantes Atlantique) - s.t.
3. Dimitri Champion (Fra - CA Mantes-La Ville 78) - s.t.
4. Hervé Arcade (Fra - Vendée U) - at 05"
5. Guillaume Levarlet (Fra - CC Nogent-sur-Oise) - at 05"
6. Sébastien Turgot (Fra - St. Jean de Monts Cyclisme) - at 05"
7. Bjorn Cornelissen (Bel - Flanders) - at 05"
8. Steve Schets (Bel - Bodysol) - at 05"
9. Benoit Daeninck (Fra - ACBB) - at 05"
10. Jérôme Barbey (Fra - VC Rouen 76) - at 05"
… 46. Jonathan Dayus (GBR - UC Nantes Atlantique) - at 05"



Plages Vendéennes Circuit - Stage 6/Saint Gilles Croix de Vie (133.5 km; Sunday, February 20th) Another winner of an exotic race held in 2004, the seven-day cycling Tour of the Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, rode to glory also in the sixth stage of Vendean Beaches Circuit: in fact last Sunday's leg was won by a Briton riding for a Breton team, Britain's Jonathan Dayus of Brittany's UC Nantes Atlantique. Under the coaching of former USPS rider Pascal Derame, the 1974-born Englishman opened his 2005 account (and that of his squad, after several failed attempts) as he broke away solo in the last kilometres of the race and held onto a lead of five seconds over the bunch, led home by France's Benoit Daeninck (AC Boulogne Billancourt), whose second place finish, added to some earlier top results, put him in the Circuit overall leader's jersey, and Jérémy Besson of Argentueil VS 95, top ten finisher at the La Tramontane race the previous weekend. Steve Schets of Belgium was the only other non-French having a top-ten finish today.

The stage was also marked by a breakaway of eight riders, all of whom from the host country: Mickaël Léal (UC Cholet), Benoît Genauzeau (Vendée U), Kévin Lalouette (CC Nogent-sur-Oise) and Mathieu Drujon (U Nantes-Atlantique) attacked with 60k to go and were joined shortly afterwards by Saturday's fourth place finisher Hervé Arcade (Vendée U) as well as Jean-Christophe Avril (US Ste-Austreberthe), Benoît Ebrard (Chambéry CF) and Lionel Béret (Deux-Sèvres Cyclisme). They stayed clear for about 30 km. and were brought back with some 30k to go. Then more attacks came, with super-combative Drujon as main protagonist, and subsequently a group of 21 riders remained at the front, four of them wearing the UC Nantes-Atlantique jersey. And one of these four guys, Worcester's own Dayus, turned out to be the winner of the event.


UK's Jonathan Dayus. Courtesy UC Nantes Atlantique

Results - Top 10 Places
1. Jonathan Dayus (GBR - Nantes Atlantique) - 03h02'18" (43.971 kph)
2. Benoit Daeninck (Fra - ACBB) - at 05"
3. Jéremy Besson (Fra - Argentueil Val de Seine 95) - s.t.
4. Nicolas Labussière (Fra - Deux Sèvres Cyclisme) - s.t.
5. Steve Schets (Bel - Bodysol) - s.t.
6. Anthony Rivière (Fra - UC Nantes Atlantique) - s.t.
7. Lionel Beret (Fra - Deux Sèvres Cyclisme) - s.t.
8. Stéphane Conan (Fra - Deux Sèvres Cyclisme) - s.t.
9. Benoit Legrix (Fra - VC Bocage Vire) - s.t.
10. Yann Pollet (Fra - Chambéry CF) - s.t.



Plages Vendéennes Circuit - Stage 7/Moutiers les Mauxfaits (138.1 km. - Tuesday, February 22nd) After four top-ten finishes out of six races (he was 6th at Saint-Jean-de-Monts, 7th at Saint-Révérend, 9th at Soullans, and runner-up at Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie just two days before) France's Benoît Daeninck finally managed to clinch victory a race, and extended his lead in the overall standings of the Vandean Series. The young (23) gun of the of the AC Boulogne-Billancourt (ACBB) team captured Tuesday's seventh and penultimate leg of the event, a 138-km. ride around Moutiers les Mauxfaits as he soloed across the line with a 25-second margin over a chasing trio made up of Freddy Ravaleu, Vincent Jérôme and Daeninck ‘s teammate Jean-Baptiste Béraud, while Jérôme's Vendée Teammate Benoît Genauzeau lead the next, five-strong buhch (also including combative Mathieu Drujon) across the line a further 13" behind.

Results - Top 10 Places
1. Benoît Daeninck (Fra - AC Boulogne-Billancourt) - 03h21'09"
2. Freddy Ravaleu (Fra - Team Oddass-Biemme-ACVO 95) - at 25"
3. Vincent Jérôme (Fra - Vendée U PDL) - s.t.
4. Jean-Baptiste Beraud (Fra - AC Boulogne-Billancourt) - s.t.
5. Benoît Genauzeau (Fra - Vendée U PDL) - at 38"
6. Mathieu Drujon (Fra - Team UC Nantes Atlantique) - s.t.
7. Jonathan Ferrand (Fra - CC Nogent-sur-Oise) - s.t.
8. Damien Pommereau (Fra - UC Cholet 49) - s.t.
9. Samuel Boudard (Fra - VC Pays de Lorient) - s.t.
10. Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel - Flanders) - at 53"



Plages Vendéennes Circuit - Stage 8/Notre Dame des Monts (144.8 km. - Thursday, February 24th) Joel Pearson and Benoit Daeninck shared the spoils in the final leg of the Plages Vendenees series. The Australian was back to the top of the podium five days after his first win at Soullans, while the man from Paris finished second in the stage (getting his sixth top 10 result out of eight legs) and emerged as the logical overall winner of the event. The stage finished in a bunch sprint of 17 escapees, among whom were both Pearson and Daeninck, as well as Criterium des Espoirs opener winner Médéric Clain and his Oddass-Biemme-ACVO teammate Freddy Ravaleu, plus Sébastien Duret of Brittany's top U23 squad Jean Floc'h and Samuel Gicquel of CC Nogent-sur-Oise, And also three riders of the local team Vendée U, usually doing well in their home race, but unable to stamp their authority in any of the seven previous legs this time. They tried not to miss the last chance for victory they were given as Anthony Martin, at his debut in the Espoirs Category, made a move in the last kilometre, with teammates Vincent Jérôme (podium finisher two days earlier) and Alexandre Pichot covering his attack. A pointless effort though, as unfortunately for him and the local squad poor Martin was caught with just 200m to the line and ended up ninth, with the sprint becoming an affair of Pearson, Daeninck and Clain, who swept the top three spots.

Results - Top 10 Places
1. Joel Pearson (Aus - Côtes d'Armor Cyclisme) - 03h23'00" (42.798 kph)
2. Benoit Daeninck (Fra - ACBB) - at 05"
3. Médéric Clain (Fra - Oddass Diemme ACVO) - s.t.
4. Kevin Lalouette (Fra - CC Nogent-sur-Oise) - s.t.
5. Yann Pollet (Fra - Chambéry CF) - s.t.
6. Vincent Jérôme (Fra - Vendée U PDL) - s.t.
7. Alexandre Pichot (Fra - Vendée U PDL) - s.t.
8. Mathieu Babin (Fra - Blois CAC 41) - s.t.
9. Anthony Martin (Fra - Vendée U PDL) - s.t.
10. Nicolas Etienne (Fra - Veloce Vannetais Cyclisme) - s.t.

Plages Vendeennes Circuit - Final Overal Standings: Top 5 Places
1. Benoit Daeninck (Fra - ACBB) - 127 p.
2. Russell Downing (GBR - MGX Power) - 97 p.
3. Joel Pearson (Aus - Côtes d'Armor Cyclisme) - 73 p.
4. Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel - Flanders) - 60 p.
5. Médéric Clain (Fra - Oddass Diemme ACVO) - 59 p.
… 12. Jonathan Dayus (GBR - UC Nantes Atlantique) - 40 p.



11th Souvenir René Vietto-Dante Gianello (128 km - Friday, February 18th) Under 23 racing in France around mid-late February is not a matter of the Atlantic beaches of Vendée only. Also the south-east of the country plays host to some interesting competitions in the Espoirs class. One of them, the GP de Peymeinade-Souvenir Gérard Banchiera, opened the 2005 season in this area Sunday, February 13th, and had a surprise winner from Poland. Bartosz Kolendo, with Irishman Tim Cassidy of Velo Club La Pomme Marseille (not the first youngster of the Emerald Isle riding with the Mediterranean team outfit), snatching seventh place. Five days later many in the young gun peloton were back in the saddle in the town of Rocheville for the 11th edition of Souvenir Vietto-Gianello, a tough race with much uphill riding, and certainly one for the toughy guys.

Guys like Jonathan Locke (who "blamed" his victory on his recent weight loss) and Daniel Fleeman, that scored a sensational 1-2 for Great Britain, while Mathias Blumer of Switzerland completed a podium sweep for foreign riders, with 5th place getter Fabien Copin as top finisher from the host country. The race got off to a speedy start, with attacks coming since the early kilometres. Fomer MTB superstar Miguel Martinez was the first rider to meet the magnificent red rocks of the Esterel Massif hills, but was pulled back by the strung out peloton soon after that. A flurry of attacks followed on the way to the Saint Cassien lake, mostly courtesy of the CR4C Roanne and Velo Club La Pomme Marseille powerhouses.

Two of their riders, Rémy Ladret (Roanne) and Julien El Farès (La Pomme) made their move on the slopes of Côte des Marjoris and opened a good gap as they were working well together. Their attempt was nullified late in the race though, and after some more attacks victory became an affair of four riders only: the two Britons as well as Blumer and Poland's Pawel Wachnik. But the east-European didn't succeed in repeating his fellow countryman's previous accomplishment and fell short of the podium in the final sprint at Auribeau-sur-Siagne. To the delight of the CC Etupes Doubs managers, whose late addition (coming from the UV Aube team) Locke, third place finisher at the Boucles Catalanes French season opener (won by Remi Pairio of VC La Pomee from Loic Herbreatu of CR4C Roanne) two weeks before, powered to victory in a time of three hours, 23 minutes and 17 seconds in front of PS Creusotine's Fleeman and Swissman Blumer.

Results - Top 10 Places
1. Jonathan Locke (GBR - CC Etupes Doubs) - 03h23'17"
2. Daniels Fleeman (GBR - PS Creusotine) - s.t.
3. Mathias Blumer (Swi - GS Hadimec-Rocky Mountain) - s.t.
4. Pawel Wachnik (Pol - CR4C Roanne) - s.t.
5. Fabien Copin (Fra - RO Saint Amandoise) - at 09"
6. Thomas Bernabeu (Fra - CR4C Roanne) - at 30"
7. Stefan Trafelet (Swi - GS Hadimec-Rocky Mountain) - at 30"
8. Julien El Farès (Fra - VC La Pomme Marseille) - at 30"
9. Manuel Michot (Fra - SuperSport 35-AC Noyal Chatillon) - at 30"
10. Bart Oegema (Hol - AVC Aixois) - at 30"



GP de Vence / Souvenir Jean Alech (100 km. - Saturday, February 19th) After the one-two punch Britons gave their rivals, many in the peloton moved to the Cote d'Azur town of Vence for Saturday's GP de Vence-Souvenir Allech. No English-speaking domination of the race this time, but French rider Benoît Luminet, who recorded seven wins in 2004 (and eleven the season before, and six in 2002, this same GP Vence included), opening his new season account in this 4x25 km. event. He put a few metres into Peymeinade winner Bartosz Kolendo and Holland's Bart Oegema (born at Amsterdam on Februray, 23, 1983).


Bart Oegema racing in 2004. Courtesy
cyclingfx.nl

Results - Top 3 Places
1. Benoit Luminet (Fra - CR4C Roanne)
2. Bartosz Kolendo (Pol - VC La Pomme Marseille)
3. Bart Oegema (Hol - AVC Aixois)



GP de la Ville d'Antibes-Sophia Antipolis (106 km. - Sunday, February 20th) Last Sunday's leg of the Cote d'Azur series took place in the seaside town of Antibes, and went under the name of Grand Prix de la Ville d'Antibes-Sophie Antipolis. Victory went to the Australian Ben Johnson, who recently switched to the Charvieu Chavagneux IC team from another French squad, SCO Dijon. The 1983-born Queenslander, a member of the Aussie National Team at the Verona World Champs, even thought of moving to the professional ranks some time ago, but in the end stayed in the Espoirs scene, and found a new team. A decision his new bosses must be delighted of, as Johnson gave them their first win of the season in a sensational 1-2 for CCIC as another recent addition to the roster, Guillaume Lejeune (moving from CR4C Roanne), came second in the eight-man sprint for victory.

The race was held over several laps of a circuit traversing Antibes and the nearby villages of Biot and Valbonne, and covering a total distance of 150 kilometres, with as many riders at the start line. The first attack came courtesy of the Corsican Dominique Bozzi (VC Vitrolles), whose move was soon chased down anyway. Later in the race a bunch of 18 riders broke clear during lap five, containing (among others) Switzerland's Marcel Schilliger and Stefan Trafelet of Team Hadimec, Jérome Lemoine et Yann Meulemans of the local team OCC Antibes, Cyril Lecler (PS Creusotine), four riders of VC La Pomme Marseille, three from the Aix-en-Provence-based AVC Aixois (one Japanese rider, So Tanaka, and Saturday's podium finisher Bart Oegema included), track superstar Jérome Neuville and his GMC 38 teammate Yann Petiot, as well as Joseph Lemoine (CG Orléans L), and obviously Ben Johnson and Guillaume Lejeune. With so many teams represented, nobody was really surprised that the breakaway worked well and the main peloton could never bring'em back, with the gap doing nothing but getting wider by the lap. So that victory became a matter of the escapees only, who battled among themselves in the second half of the stage, when the front group splintered and just eight of them were able to stay at the front.

Full Results
1. Ben Johnson (Aus - Charvieu-Chavagneux IC) - 02h51'36" (37.063 kph)
2. Guillaume Lejeune (Fra - Charvieu-Chavagneux IC) - s.t.
3. Julien El Farès (Fra - VC La Pomme Marseille) - s.t.
4. Thierry David (Fra - VC La Pomme Marseille) - s.t.
5. Alexandre Blain (Fra - AVC Aixois) - s.t.
6. Bert Oegema (Hol - AVC Aixois) - s.t.
7. Olivier Martinez (Fra - AVC Aixois) - s.t.
8. Yann Meulemans (Fra - OCC Antibes) - s.t.
9. Patrick Gassman (Swi - GS Hadimec-Rocky Mountain)
10. Fabien Le Bourhis (Fra - Parisis AC 95)
11. Cédric Jeanroch (Fra - UC Bry-sur-Marne)
12. Joseph Lemoine (Fra - CG Orléans)
13. Julien Antomarchi (Fra - VC La Pomme Marseille)
14. Peter Andres (Swi - GS Hadimec-Rocky Mountain)
15. Laurent Arn (Swi - GS Hadimec-Rocky Mountain)
16. Miguel Martinez (Fra - Mimosa Sprint Mandelieu)
17. Thibault Picy (Fra - AVC Aixois)
18. Lionel Faure (Fra - VC La Pomme Marseille)
19. Cyril Leclerc (Fra - PS Creusotine)
20. So Tanaka (Jap - VC La Pomme Marseille)
21. Marcel Schilliger (Swi - GS Hadimec-Rocky Mountain)
22. Christophe Cabon (Fra - Charvieu-Chavagneux IC)
23. Nicolas Garcera (Fra - AC Balméen)
24. Jean-Emmanuel Christol Scalieri (Fra - PS Creusotine)
25. Julien Foucault (Fra - UC Sablé)
26. Gaël Mainard (Fra - VC Draguignan)
27. Olivier Caravagno (Fra - MBC Nice)
28. Erwann Lollierou (Fra - UC Bry-sur-Marne)
29. Jérôme Neuville (Fra - GMC 38)
30. Yoann Petiot (Fra - GMC 38)
31. Frédérick Jouan (Fra - Martigues SC)
32. Franck Bereck (Fra - CG Orléans)
33. Michael Randin (Swi - GS Hadimec-Rocky Mountain)
34. Frank Allo (Fra - OCC Antibes)
35. Georges Lestage (Fra - VC Cévenol)
36. Sébastien Faure (Fra - ECC Clermont-Ferrand)
37. Vincent Merle (Fra - VS Hyères)
38. Guillaume Mathis (Fra - Villeneuve-la-Garenne)
39. Yoann Courtet (Fra - UC Sablé)

 
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