Riders to watch for 2011

Monday, 22 November 2010

With riders starting training camps and getting their new 2011 kit, who are the ones to watch out for next year? Here’s a selection of a few names, it is not so much an exhaustive list as a personal watchlist.

Thibaut Pinot (left) is one to watch

Sometimes riders can show something special, only to fail later. Maybe they develop a physical maturity quickly and so can’t progress. Perhaps they just get lucky. And sometimes a rider becomes swept up in hype and loses an edge. Either way we’ll see how the riders named below do.

Taylor Phinney
He’s long been one to watch but now that he’s joined Team BMC it’ll be interesting to see what he does with a full focus on the road. Whilst his move to the American/Swiss team was cited for long-term development reasons, he’s also going to feel a bit of pressure if reports of his salary are true. Expect him to focus on prologue time trials and perhaps the smaller classics.

Dani Navarro
No, not Dave but Dani. After winning a stage in the Dauphiné, the Spaniard was drilling the pace in the Tour de France to the extent where were wondering if the 27 year old can make the step up into something more. Certainly Bjarne Riis will be counting on this.

Sep Vanmarke
A promising Belgian talent, Vanmarke will be a pro with Garmin-Cervélo. He got third in Gent-Wevelgem and promises to deliver more. How often he gets to ride the classics will be an important question given the depth of the newly merged squad.

Peter Sagan
He jumped away with the big names in the Tour Down Under. Then he went with Contador in Paris-Nice and then dropped the bunch to win a stage. The Slovak’s no longer an unknown quantity, he is fast becoming a dependable rider when it comes to a hilly race with an uphill sprint.

Richie Porte
You could say his Giro adventure was about being in the right place at the right time. But it takes something special to be there in the first place. Yet the Tasmanian also won the final stage of the Tour of Romandie, beating some big names. With Contador’s place with Sungard-Saxo in limbo, the interesting test for Porte is going to be managing responsibility. Leadership has its burdens and will Porte aim for a grand tour or will he seek satisfaction in smaller races?

Yoann Offredo
An exciting Frenchman with FDJ. He trains hard, often doing marathon sessions. It seems to pay, he led Milan-San Remo for some time and if this didn’t bring a result, you don’t hang off the front after 250km by chance. He finished second in the GP Plouay and if he progresses, expect to see him next year.

Thibaut Pinot
Who?“, I hear you say. FDJ’s 19 year old rider won the mountains jersey in the Tour of Romandie. Later in the Dauphiné he finished 20th overall and had a top-3 place on one of the mountain stages.

Paul November 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm

I'd also count Alex Dowsett, who recently signed for SKY, as one to watch.

Anonymous November 25, 2010 at 11:11 pm

I'm exited to see what htc's young guns van Garderen, Degenkolb and Fairly can manage. Since in that team they won't have to carry the pressure and can be built up slowly but they are pretty ambitious and talented.

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