The Tour de l’Avenir, a prologue and six-stage race for under-23 riders, kicks off in Saint-Flour on Saturday August 23, finishing a week later, at the ski station of La Toussuire which has featured in both the Criterium du Dauphine and the Tour de France.
Previous winners of ‘the l’Avenir’ include Greg Lemond, Nairo Quintana, Warren Barguil and Bauke Mollema and it’s established itself in recent years as a springboard for a lot of talent. Last year Simon Yates won two stages and Adam Yates finished second overall, and both went on to do quite well with Orica-GreenEdge…
This year, GB manager Keith Lambert is taking a sextet of riders none of whom have come from the current roster on the track-based BC Academy.
Welsh trio Owain Doull (An Post), Scott Davies (Madison Genesis) and Zappi’s Dan Pearson (who has been based in Italy) all feature, as does Lotto-Belisol under-23 rider Dan McLay, Belgian-based Manxman Jake Kelly (ILLI bikes) and Bissell Development Team rider Tao Geoghegan Hart.
“It’s a good balanced team,” reflected Lambert, “the race starts on quite grippy roads and gets progressively harder, with the four stages at end particularly tough. I’ve spoken to the lads before we set off – they’re flying into Lyon – and they all told me they are fit and healthy, so we’ll see how it goes.
“The thing is though that none of the mountain stages are that long, so I think if Owain is going well, he could still be up there, but you never know what will happen earlier in the race. Short stages tend to encourage people to race quite aggressively, but, even if you get tired, it’s not the same depth of fatigue, you can generally recover better. It should be a good race.”
There are a lot of fresh faces in the sextet – and there are a lot of new names among the competition too – so Lambert is cautious in his predictions for the performance of his young charges.
“There are lads who have only just turned 19, who are first year seniors and everyone has to realise that they’re not going to France to get a big result, they’re there to do as well as they can and see where they are.
“At that age, you can ride well for four or five days and then have an off day, but that’s not the end of the world at that age, not at all, it’s just a measure of where they compared to a lot of good other riders, the l’Avenir is a big race, there’s a quality field.”
The race starts on Saturday in Saint-Flour, in central France, with a lumpy 4.9km prologue, things calm down for a few days as the race heads east before back-to-back mountains in the Savoie and Haute Savoie regions the following weekend.
Website: Tour de l’Avenir
Tao Geoghegan Hart only second British rider to appear on under-23 Liege podium in race's history
Great Britain Academy rider Owain Doull narrowly misses the podium at the U23 Tour of Flanders in Oudenaarde
Stage win in Paris-Arras Tour for British Lotto-Belisol under-23 rider Dan McLay