Spring! After having spent the winter riding through snow and slush – or even worse, riding on a trainer – Spring never comes soon enough. Not to mention, the proper racing season starts! Nothing against the early season races in Australia and the Middle East, but the road racing season doesn’t really begin until there’s racing in Belgium, France and Italy.
The season has already seen some great racing at. But there’s still plenty of Spring racing left – and with that racing, comes a whole new cast of racers to keep an eye on.
In our first 10 in ’11 series, we’ll take a look at 10 riders who Pavé thinks are poised to make a name for themselves this Spring and in the future. Some you may have already heard of, and some you may not be familiar with – yet. Here are our first three riders to watch this Spring.
Andrew Talansky was a late-2010 signing for Garmin-Cervélo – but don’t think of him as being a total neophyte. Talansky spent 2009 as a neo-pro for Amore &Vita – McDonalds, getting a taste of pro racing that didn’t quite agree with him. Dropping back in to the amateur ranks with California Giant Berry Farms in the US, and Team USA internationally, Talansky showed his skill with a win in the U23 national championships, and a second in the prestigious Tour de l’Avenir. For those wondering how he’d adjust to being a pro again for Garmin-Cervélo, he finished the 2011 Tour Méditerranéen in fourth place, having coming in fourth on the steep stage 5 finish on Mount Faron. He also performed admirably at Paris-Nice, with a nice top-10 finish in the stage 6 time trial, ahead of far more experienced riders. We probably won’t see him in the Classics, given the insane firepower Garmin-Cervélo is bringing, and when we do see him, it’ll be service his team mates. Keep an eye on him in time trials and on the (probably rare) occasion he’s left to fight for his own in hilly breaks.
Steve Chainel is FDJ’s 2011 pickup who is looking increasingly like a valuable pickup from the near-crumbling of BBox before it was saved by Europcar. Though it may come as a surprise to see a FDJ squad at the front of major spring races, they’ve put together an impressive young classics squad – Chainel and teammate Yoan Offredo already flew the colors admirably at Milan-San Remo, and it was Chainel who launched from the field to pull Offredo and breakmates Van Avermaet and O’Grady to the Poggio with an advantage over their rivals.
Chainel’s a crossover from cyclocross – he netted a number of top-ten results at major races throughout the season. In the 2009/2010 CX season he struggled to last the full hour at race pace, but he stepped it up for 2010/2011, and despite a strong CX season, he appears to be making the transition to the road with aplomb. Keep your eyes on Chainel.
Last year – his sophomore year as a pro, Liquigas’s Daniel Oss declared himself to be a spring contender with respectable placings at Gent-Wevelgem (5th) and in a stage of the Three Days of de Panne (4th). With a Grand Tour in his legs – last year’s Tour de France, during which he won a combativity award – he should be able to develop further. Paired with another talented youngster, Peter Sagan, he may be on leadout duty for a while, but he’ll gun for the win in some tune-up races. With eyes on Sagan, he may have the opportunity to slip away from the field for a strong win.
We’ll cover another three riders we think everyone should keep their eyes on in our next installment. Stay tuned!