Friday Feature: 2013 WorldTour newbies (part 2)

Here’s part two of our preview of some of the new boys making the step up to riding in a WorldTour team in 2013. You can read part one here.

Mko2012Michel Koch (Cannondale)

The Italian lime-green outfit have signed the 21-year old German, a former national junior time trial champion, from the LKT-Brandenburg Continental team.

With two victories in 2012 – the team pursuit at the national track championship and the Rund um den Bramscher Berg – plus third place in the national under-23 time trial championship, Michel will slot right into the team’s rouleurs in 2013.

JAI2012Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Euskaltel)

The 23-year old Basque resident of Vitoria Gasteiz, having spent three years with the Orbea development squad, is one of the few Basques joining the orange-clad squad next season.

With a solid rather than spectacular palmares, where results have been garnered in largely local races, the youngster will still be a welcome addition to the team.

SvH2012Steele Von Hoff (Garmin-Sharp)

The soon to be 25-year old Aussie used his time as a stagiaire this season to show he was more than ready to step up to WorldTour level. The six months he spent in Garmin’s Chipotle feeder team  – now disbanded – allowed him to build on the form he revealed on Australia’s domestic circuit in 2011 and take several sprint stage wins and podium places behind riders of the stature of Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Mark Cavendish (Sky).

He’ll be looking to link up with former teammate and compatriot Nathan Haas and make his mark early on in his home tour, Down Under.

RV2012Robert Vrecer (Euskaltel)

It’s now or never for 32-year old Slovenian Robert to make the transition from Continental team Voralberg to the WorldTour. He’s got eight victories and six podiums to his name this season and his time trialling ability will be much appreciated at the all orange, formerly all-Basque squad.

After seven years in Continental squads, six in local teams and the last with the Austrian unit, the Slovenian will be hoping to make his mark and demonstrate that he can also earn UCI points at the highest level.

Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida)

The 23-year old Italian sprinter, who’s been winning races since he was a junior, joined Idea at the start of 2012 and immediately made his presence felt with a victory in the first stage of Coppi and Bartali’s Settimana and a great last third of the season with top ten performances in Tre Valli Varesine, Coppa Bernocchi, GP Industria e Commercio Artigianato Memorial Marco Pantani Carnaghese.

These results have opened the doors of the hot-pink Italian squad for 2013. They’ll be hoping Andrea can convert his hot streak into victories at the highest level of the sport.

Ariel Maximiliano Richeze (Lampre-Merida)

Also hot-footing it over to the Italians is the 29 year-old Argentine sprinter – one of four cycling brothers – who’s enjoyed 16 victories this season racing on the Asian and European circuit.

His wins in the Tours of Japan, Kumano, Serbia, Venezuela, Hokkaido, his performance in the Pan American games and his good showing in races such as the Giro di Padania, Coppi and Bartali Settimana, Giro di Reggio Calabria Province and Coppa Bernocchi have garnered him precious UCI points and a chance to see if he can also shine on a bigger stage.

Wesley Kreder (Vacansoleil-DCM)

The 21-year old young cousin of Garmin-Sharp’s Kreder brothers, who was riding for the Rabobank feeder team, rode as a stagiaire for Vacansoleil-DCM this summer.

Most unusually for a stagiaire he won a race, the Tour de Vendee and secured a contract for the following two years. He outclassed Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) on the Frenchman’s home turf to claim a brilliant solo victory built in the last 5km after going clear with the Tour de France King of the Mountains. Ostensibly riding for teammate Marco Mercato he seized his chance when Marco had a mechanical. He also scored a number of top five finishes last year.

Alexey Lutsenko (Astana)

This powerful young Kazakh rider caught everyone’s attention when aged only 20 he won the under-23 road race at the recent World Championships after recording victories in the Tour de l’Avenir, Giro della Valle d’Aosta and Tour of Bulgaria and a further ten podium places.

He joined Astana’s Continental squad last year after winning the Asian junior national road race championships. Team manager Alexandre Vinokourov has already proclaimed he’s better than Peter Sagan (Cannondale). If that’s the case, he’ll be one to watch next season.

Anton Vorobyev (Katusha)

The 22-year old Russian has spent the last three seasons with Katusha’s feeder squad Itera-Katusha but has long enjoyed some of the privileges afforded the WorldTour riders on account of his ability on the time trial bike. He’s the current under-23 world time trial champion and the double under-23 national champion.

He cites Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) as his inspiration but team management feel that with his ability in the mountains he may be more similar to Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). He’s now earned a two-year contract with the big boys.

Argiro Alonso Ospina Hernandez (Movistar)

This season, the Colombians were very much the ‘must-have’ helpers in the mountains. No doubt impressed with their existing South Americans – Andrey Amador and Nairo Quintana – Movistar have scooped up Colombian climbing and time trialling 21-year old sensation Argiro from elite team Gobernacion de Antioquia, where his older brother Carlos still rides.

In the last two years he has racked up four victories and a stack of top fives.

Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp)

Another Australian making the step up after five years in development squads. 22-year old Rohan already has a formidable palmares, like many of his compatriots honed on the track – 12 victories – and road – 19 wins.

He’s the national under-23 road race and time trial champion, plus he was runner-up in the under-23 time trial at this year’s World’s. After a fifth place overall and the mountains classification in his home tour, he added victories in the Olympia Tour, Thuringen Rundfahrt and Memorial Davide Chrono Champenois Fardelli. Garmin are going to have one hell of a time trial team.

Gediminas Bagdonas (AG2R La Mondiale)

The 26-year old Lithuanian An Post-Sean Kelly rider was coveted by many WorldTour teams for his nine wins this season which included his national road race championships, the Ronde van Noord-Holland, two stages in the Ras and his runner-up spot in the important German classic Rund um Koln.

He’s a bit of an all-rounder, having tried his hand both on the boards and astride a mountain bike.

Eloy Teruel Rovira (Movistar)

The 30-year old Murcian will be joining Movistar next year after a career spent largely on the track. While he’s been a professional since 2006 and spent three years flirting with road racing in Continental squads, in 2009 he returned to his first love and enjoyed success both nationally and internationally as a track rider.

Others have successfully made the move and at worst we can expect to see Eloy leading the Movistar charge from the front of the peloton.

And that concludes our two-part look at next year’s newbies. It’s not intended to be an exhaustive list nor is it intended to highlight those riders VeloVoices thinks will perform well in 2013 though we do, of course, wish them all much success in 2013 and beyond in their new teams.

(All images are from Cycling Archives/Wikipedia.)

Friday Feature: 2013 WorldTour newbies (part 1)

Here at VeloVoices we’ve been looking back fondly on the careers of some of the riders who retired from the professional peloton in 2012. Equally, we’re now also going to turn our attention to the new boys making the step up to riding in a WorldTour team.

A number are more experienced pros who’ve tasted success at either the Continental or ProContinental level. They’re coming with precious UCI points but have they got what it takes to cut it in the big time? Some are youngsters who’ve made their way up through feeder squads and, after one or two stints as a stagiaire, have been adjudged ready for the biggest stage and races. The former group will be looking to quickly make their mark –  many will only have one-year contracts – it’s now or never. The latter group will be in watch, listen and learn mode on a steep learning curve and generally two to three-year contracts. Few neo-pros strike gold in their first season, however, there are always exceptions. Peter Sagan (Liquigas), Thibaut Pinot and Arnaud Demare (FDJ) are names that spring immediately to mind.

Here’s part one of our non-exhaustive list, in no particular order. Part two follows later today.

Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Sky)

A real example of persistence pays dividends. After numerous knockbacks, including three years off the bike with Epstein-Barr virus, he recorded nine wins this season riding for British Continental squad Endura Racing. His tally might have been larger had it not been for a mid-season collarbone fracture. After his early season wins at the Tour du Haut Var and Tour Mediterraneen, he was rumoured to have signed with Sky. This was confirmed after he’d posted strong performances in the Tours of Murcia and Leon, the World Championships and won the overall in the Tour of Britain – the first British winner since 1993.

Have Sky landed another potential British Grand Tour winner? Only time will tell, but the outlook looks rosy for the soon to be 29-year old.

Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano)

The diminutive 21-year old hails from Brittany, France’s cycling stronghold. He became French junior champion in 2009 and has since enjoyed an upward trajectory collecting plenty of podium places. Despite a stage in 2011 with Bretagne-Schuler, he re-joined his formative club CC Etupes in 2012, finishing the year as a stagiaire with Argos-Shimano, with whom he’s signed for the forthcoming two seasons after taking the overall, a stage, the points and mountains jersey in the prestigious Tour de l’Avenir. His results were recognised with the prestigious Velo d’Or Espoirs.

Inevitably comparisons have been made with Thibaut Pinot (FDJ). Warren is coached by Julien Pinot – Thibaut’s brother – who says Warren has the same excellent powers of recovery and he’s not afraid to attack. Warren becomes the latest French hope carrying the weight of expectation of a nation and the hope that he and others can change the shape of French cycling.

Joe Dombrowski (Sky)

The Americans are hoping that the talented 21-year old will be their next Grand Tour winner. He’s spent the last 2½ years with the Livestrong development squad and this season has recorded some notable victories. On home soil, after finishing third overall in the Tour of the Gila, he took fourth on the steep Mount Baldy stage in the Tour of California, beating established names such as Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), and went on to take 12th overall. Interest in the rider went stratospheric when he won two mountain stages and the overall at the baby Giro, making him the first American to win the race in its four-decade history.

Sky allegedly secured his and Ian Boswell’s signature as they both wanted to work with Bobby Julich. Both riders will be based in Nice  – presumably to be near Bobby, with whom they will not now be working – having signed three-year contracts. VeloVoices’ Panache, who knows a thing or two about road racing, put Joe in his Tour dream team.

Ian Boswell (Sky)

Boswell is another rider who spent the last couple of seasons with Bontrager-Livestrong and was recently a stagiaire with Argos-Shimano. As part of the national team, Ian helped Joe win the Baby Giro d’Italia and scored some important results of his own, including second in the under-23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

He too is hoping to develop into a Tour rider and was looking forward to working with Julich on his time-trialling and cutting his teeth on some of the smaller stage races. Both young Americans were attracted to Sky because of its culture, focus and system for developing riders. They’re both keen to learn.

Fabio Aru (Astana)

The 22-year old Italian climber has signed a two-year contract after a spell as a stagiaire this season directly from the amateur ranks. He already has an impressive palmares which includes the last two editions of the Giro della Valle d’Aosta and was runner-up in this year’s Baby Giro d’Italia.

The Kazakh Astana squad has a large number of Italian riders many of whom, including young Fabio, will be riding in support of Vincenzo Nibali at next year’s Giro.

Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (Argos-Shimano)

South African time trial champion Reinardt has spent the past three seasons riding for local squad MTN-Qhubeka where he’s racked up an impressive 33 wins, with 14 this season which have included wins in the Tour of Portugal, overalls in Tour du Maroc and Bretagne and a victory over Lars Boom (Rabobank) in the Ronde van Zealand.

His time-trialling ability will be put to good use in the Argos-Shimano sprint train plus, given his impressive showing at this year’s Worlds in Valkenburg before he crashed, he should be able to add to his already impressive palmares for a 23-year old. I should add that current younger teammate Jacques Janse Van Rensburg is no relative.

Marko Kump (Saxo-Tinkoff)

24-year old Slovenian Marko has spent five years with local Continental team Adria Mobil plus an ill-fated year (2011) in the ranks of ProConti squad Geox-TMC. However, a return to his roots this year has seen him record some impressive sprint victories this year including being runner-up in both the Nationals and the Trofeo Matteotti.

He has a one-year contract with his new team who are expecting him to shine in the tougher one-day races, such as the Spring Classics, following his 2010 victory in the under-23 Tour of Flanders.

Larry Warbasse (BMC)

BMC has announced the signing of the talented 22-year old American from their feeder team for whom he has ridden since 2010. This year, Larry finished fifth overall at the mountainous Ronde de l’Isard and, while riding for the US national team, helped compatriot Joe Dombrowski – who’s going to Sky – win the Baby Giro d’Italia.

Warbasse started racing as a teenager after flirting with skiing and quit college to race professionally. He’s been mentored by recent BMC retiree George Hincapie and will make a welcome addition to the young American powerhouse squad.

Ioannis Tamouridis (Euskaltel)

The 32-year old will be the first Greek to compete at the WorldTour level. Tamouridis is a multi-disciplinary, multi-national champion who we’re more used to seeing competing on the track. He’s ridden for local continental squad SP Tableware for the past four seasons and with nine victories and 23 top ten finishes this season, his points haul attracted the formerly all-Basque outfit.

More importantly, he’ll bring the all too sadly lacking from the team discipline of time-trialling. We can therefore expect him to take a lead role in team time trials, enjoy the northern cobbled Classics, and drive the peloton from the front but go backwards – unlike the rest of the Euskies – whenever the road turns upwards.

Marc Goos (team formerly known as Rabobank)

Spells in the Rabobank development squad and as a stagiaire have earned the 22-year old Dutchman a move to the WorldTour team. He’s shown solid progression at the under-23 level which he’ll be hoping to build on in the coming two seasons.

He’s a fine time-trialler and may well shine in the northern Classics where an ability to cope with adverse climatic conditions is often an advantage.

(All images are from Cycling Archives/Wikipedia.)

Watch out for part two of our WorldTour newbies feature later today.