If the UCI Europe Tour was a famous film festival, Riccardo Zoidl (Team Gourmetfein-Simplon) would have carried off both the Revelation Prize and that of Best Male Actor. The 25-year-old Austrian surprised everyone by coming top in the individual rankings 2013, while Team Europcar won in the team category and France in the rankings by country.
Zoidl, with 531,5 points, fought off two better-known riders, the Frenchman Bryan Coquard (Team Europcar) with 464 points, and the Italian Davide Rebellin (CCC Polsat) with 424 points, and replaces another better-known rider with this victory â John Degenkolb (Team Argos-Shimano).
In 2012, the German sprinter won on the final straight of the season, following successes that brought him a lot of points, such as his 5th place in the World Championships. In contrast, the Austrian rider gained his success in a very different way, excelling by his consistency (eleven wins) and reaching the top of the rankings on the 25th July after his triumph in the very difficult Tour of Austria.
Zoidl had had to pull out of the final event of the cycling calendar â Chrono des Herbiers, won on Sunday by Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) â having sustained a fractured pelvis a month earlier in the UCI World Championships in Tuscany (Italy). This was a severe blow for the rider, who had been named as leader of the Austrian national team, and who had achieved 14th place a year earlier in Limbourg (The Netherlands), as a prelude to an exceptional 2013 season.
Despite his accident, Zoidl was not seriously threatened by Coquard, the runner-up. The Omnium Olympic Vice-Champion could have taken over if he had finished in the first two places in the Paris-Tours or Paris-Bourges events, two Classics tailor-made for rouleur-sprinters like him. The twenty and a half year-old Frenchman, however, fought to the end, finishing the month in 6th place in the Tour de VendÃ©e and twentieth in the Chrono des Herbiers.
Opposed to training methods that are too scientific, a big fan of cereals soaked in warm water, Zoidl has been faithful to his team since 2007. However, his results have attracted the attention of the UCI WorldTour teams, and now he has committed to join Trek (currently RadioShack-Nissan).
Luca Guercilena, the Manager, explains the reasons behind his choice: âRiccardo is a very complete rider, who performs well in many disciplines. We had him on our radar before, but after the Tour of Austria, we looked into him. We want to give these riders opportunities to grow here, especially in the smaller stage races.â
Italy defeated for the first time since 2005
The 2013 UCI Europe Tour contained another big surprise in the team ranking, as Italy was beaten for the first time since the creation of the Continental Circuits in 2005. With 2742,2 points, it had to concede defeat to France (2753,25 points), but beat Belgium (1772,17 points). As well as Coquard, France has three riders in the top 15 individual section: Thomas Voeckler (Team Europcar) 5th, Jonathan Hivert (Sojasun) 8th, and Yannick Martinez (La Pomme Marseille) 15th.
With two representatives in the Top 5, Europcar (1502,6 points) won the team ranking. It came in front of IAM-Cycling, from Switzerland, a newcomer to the scene (1334,34 points) and TopSport Vlaanderen-BÃ¢loise (1168,5 points). Team victory has become a French specialty as FDJ and Saur-Sojasun have won in succession since 2011.
The 2014 UCI Europe Tour will begin on 24th January in France, with the Grand Prix Cycliste La Marseillaise.