One round from the end, the UCI Juniors Nations Cup has a new leader: France. The TrohpÃ©e Centre Morbihan, a race in Britanny that is on the calendar for the first time, was perfectly suited to the French team, which won two of the three stages in front of its own public last weekend. Mathieu Van Der Poel (the Netherlands) won the overall classification.
In the lead of the competition, winners of five out of six rounds in Europe since the beginning of the season, the Danes chose to keep a low profile and did not score any more points. âWe could have sent a stronger national team to the race, but we decided to give some other riders a chance,â explains coach Henrik Simper. The more experienced Juniors preferred to line up at LiÃ¨ge-La Gleize, another UCI event organised in Belgium.
In the current rankings, France (269 points) is in front of Denmark (219 points) and the Netherlands (183 points). Belgium followed with 163 points, while Great Britain slips from third to fifth with 161 points.
Van Der Poel wins first stage
Van Der Poel began work on his overall victory in the TrophÃ©e Centre Morbihan during the first stage on Saturday. Out in front at the end with Aleksandr Riabushenko (Belarus), he tried to surprise his opponent and then waited for the two-way sprint to get rid of him.
The next morning, the Dutch rider came fifth in the time trial, which was won by RÃ©mi Cavagna (France).
In the afternoon, he took control of the stage with his team mates, across the difficult CÃ´te de Cadoudal. Another French rider, Etienne Favre, took the stage honours by opening up a gap three kilometres from the finish and taking two riders with him, whom he beat in the sprint. World Cycling Centre trainee Cristian Pita (Ecuador) came sixth.
In the overall classification, Van Der Poel finished 15 seconds ahead of Riabushenko and 22 in front of Cavagna.
âItâs a great win,â he declared. âThe course was selective. Itâs never flat in Brittany...â
Talented in cyclo-cross and on the road
Van Der Poel, 18, is known for his talent in cyclo-cross, a discipline which saw him take the rainbow jersey last February in Louisville (United States). On the road, he won a stage of the GP GÃ©nÃ©ral Patton, also a Nations Cup event, in Luxembourg at the end of July. The TrophÃ©e Centre Morbihan is his 17th win of the season.
Even so, this huge talent had a bad start in Brittany as he forgot his shoes before the start of the first stage and had to borrow a pair from a friend riding in the Belgian team.
The TrophÃ©e Centre Morbihan, which was celebrating its 20th anniversary, put on a warm welcome for tomorrowâs champions: a public of some 4000 spectators encouraged the riders on the final circuit of the third stage.
The 2013 UCI Juniors Nations Cup will draw to a close with the two events at the UCI Road World Championships in Tuscany (Italy): the individual time trial on September 24th and the road race on September 28th.