The Tour de l’Avenir translates as the “Tour of the Future” and this year’s race begins a chapter in the race with new ownership and an extended format. It’s now an eight day race reserved for U-23 riders and has to be the best single guage of new talent.
Past winners include Felice Gimondi, Joop Zoetemelk, Laurent Fignon, Greg LeMond, Miguel Indurain and Nairo Quintana.
The race is no longer the property of ASO, the Tour de France owners. Instead ASO provide technical support but the race has been sold to Philippe Colliou, organiser of the Tour de l’Ain. The race uses some of the same roads as the Tour de l’Ain and will be based in the Alps. It’s also under the umbrella of the UCI with the governing body using it to train officials. So just as the race is about tomorrow’s star riders its also used to give tomorrow’s officials valuable experience.
The 2013 edition is mountainous with several summit finishes including the final stage to the Plateau de Glières. It’s a route worthy of June’s Dauphiné race, indeed it shares some of the same roads used by that race… although with 50km less to cover every day.
It’s disputed by national teams and the Colombians are obvious picks, more so since they won the Ronde de l’Isard stage race back in May with Juan Chamoro who was solid in the mountains but competent in the plains too and second in the Tour de l’Avenir last year too. But I’m told team mate Heiner Parra was even stronger last May and could be the one to watch next week. France’s Clément Chevrier is a good all rounder, the same with Jasper Stuyven of Belgium and Eritrea’s Merhawi Kudus too. Meanwhile the sprint stages promise a battle between Germany’s Rick Zabel, Australian Caleb Ewan, Dane Lasse Norman Hansen and Dutchman Dylan Van Baarle to name just a few but they’ve only got two real chances and besides six-man teams make it hard to organise a chase.
Last year’s winner Warren Barguil is riding the Vuelta with Argos-Shimano. A real talent he’s not had the start in the pro ranks he wanted because of a back injury that’s stopped him from turning on the power but he could still impress in the Vuelta and will be a rider to watch in 2014.
The Tour de l’Avenir has a long list of big name winners although of course some riders didn’t become champions in the pro ranks. Here are the recent winners courtesy of Wikipedia
Note the route has varied over the years which helps explain why Lars Ytting Bak won in 2005 as the race avoided the high mountains, instead using the gentler but still gruelling massif centrale region where a track specialist called Bradley Wiggins won the race’s designated mountain stage.
You can follow the race via its website and for now note the French version of the site has more up-to-date info: tourdelavenir.com