The Tour de l’Avenir starts on Sunday. Literally the “Tour of the Future”, this is a week-long stage race organised by ASO, the Tour de France organisers. It is for those aged 23 or younger and will see 120 riders from 20 different teams taking part.
Last year’s race was a closely fought battle, with Romain Sicard winning, partly thanks to his big talent, partly because he benefited from the French A and French B teams combining to give him extra support.
The 2010 edition starts in Vierzon, an avoidable town famous for little, except proximity to main railway line and a now closed cigarette factory. Along the way there’s a mix of stages, think Paris-Nice with a more mountainous couple of stages at the end. The penultimate stage sees a summit finish in Risoul, then the final day sees the riders repeat the climb to Risoul, only this time as a mountain TT. You might remember Risoul as the summit finish from the Dauphine earlier this year.
The race is always quite open. Last year’s sixth placed rider Daniel Teklayhaimanot returns, the Eritrean can go better but the last word might go to the Colombian team and their climbers, who will hope to profit from the ski-station summit finishes.
The selective nature of the race and the prestige means that the race’s previous winners reads like a who’s who of cycling although a few names never quite made the transition.