Last year Italy's Zocccorinese-Vellutex was definitely the most successful U23 Italian Team, featuring the likes of Popovych, Caruso, Bernucci, Metlushenko, Bileka and others who earned plenty of victories all through 2001. Now most of them are pro riders (mainly in Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) and Zoccorinese is a little weaker and less suucessful than in the last season.
But nonetheless there's at least one race they never miss the chance to win: the Paris-Roubaix Espoirs. Last year the most important one-day race (apart from the Worlds) reserved to U23 riders, and part of the World Cup, was won by Ukraine's Popovych.
And on Sunday Zoccorinese repeated victory thanks to another East-European: Russia's Mikhail Timochine, 21, captured the race after making the decisive move with 70 km. to go. In the thirteenth cobbled section (out of 21) Timochine dropped his breakaway companion, France's Yannick Talabardon (Aubervilliers '93), younger brother of pro rider Sebastien, whom he will join at Big Mat at the end of the current season.
The Russian got to the finishing line 1'50" ahead of Talabardon, with Belgium's Michael Blanchy (Domo), taking third in the Roubaix Velodrome.
More detailed results likely to come later .. stay tuned !!