26 August 2018
Slovenia has taken the title of the Tour de l’Avenir, the last round of the UCI Nations Under-23 Cup, of which it is also the winner. This is the 12th nation to win this real “Youth Tour de France” which has undoubtedly revealed this year again a great talent, with Tadej Pogaçar, only 19 years old (he will have 20 next month) that succeeds the Colombian Egan Bernal, great revelation of the last Tour de France.
The suspense nevertheless held (almost) to the end because Tadej Pogaçar was frightened, Sunday, during the last stage considered the most difficult, even if it was cut short, because of the slippery road at the top of Iseran, this Sunday morning, which led the organizers to neutralize the first 35 kilometers, the riders crossing in their team vehicles the large pass (2,764 m altitude) to start at Bessans, for a distance reduced to 117 km. The course which still had major difficulties with the famous laces of Montvernier, followed by the Col de Chaussy, first allowed the Rwandan Joseph Areruya to deliver a baroud d’honneur (read moreover), in a breakaway in the company of the jersey green Damien Touzé and German Max Kanter, winner of the first leg in Brittany, before the final suspense that was to prevail until the final climb to Saint-Colomban-des-Villards, mid-Glandon.
This is where Tadej Pogaçar once again showed great strength of character to definitely save the yellow jersey which he had seized Thursday in Méribel and he confirmed Saturday in Val d’Isère where he had not hesitated to take the lead to guard against any possible attack.
And two for Mäder!
The yellow jersey found the resource to hunt for several kilometers after a missed turn (without falling) in the descent of the Col de Chaussy, which had the effect of losing contact with his direct opponents. Especially at the same time, the Swiss Gino Mäder, already winner Friday in Crest-Voland, showed again his abilities of descender. The Swiss, thus projected alone in the lead, could even dream of a reversal of last-minute situation, while he returned to about thirty seconds of the yellow jersey in the general classification!
But Tadej Pogaçar, still testified to enormous mental and athletic qualities by gradually overcoming his delay. He managed to restore contact around the time the Swiss was six kilometers away from goal. This did not prevent Gino Mäder, stubborn, to snatch a second stage victory by narrowly settling the Irish Dunbar and the young French Champoussin, other revelations of the event, in the sprint that pitted the six members of the head group.
It was won for Tadej Pogaçar, winner this season of G.P. Priessnitz Spa, new version of the Peace Race. The Slovenian champion (road and time trial) thus achieves a double on the two biggest events by stage hopes as the Frenchman David Gaudu, two years ago. The potential of Tadej Pogaçar, average size rider but very energetic, has not escaped the teams of the World Tour where he will start next year in UAE team UAE.
Among other revelations of the event, the Luxembourger Michel Ries, 2nd overall in the morning of the last stage, could not hold this rank and retrograde to the 10th final place. He gives the second step of the final podium (our picture) to the Dutchman Thymen Arensman, while the new issue of Gino Mäder is worth to the Swiss rider a meritorious third place final.
Faithful to its vocation, which has not been neglected since its creation in 1961, the 55th Tour de l’Avenir, in general, has served as a springboard for the world’s best hopefuls many, for many of them, to find in the Tour de France.