Riders to Watch for 2014 – What Happened? Part II

Adam Yates

After yesterday’s look at the established pros, what happened to the six neo-pro picks for 2014? It’s been a more mixed story which reflects the variety of life as a junior pro, some triumph while others don’t break through.

Lachlan Morton finished 2013 showing just what he can do with success in the Tour of Utah and the USA Pro Challenge. But 2014 has seen a lot of DNFs. An interview with cyclingtips he tells what happens:

I’ve had a really shitty season. Probably the worst season I’ve ever had. Health and race program have been the two biggest things. I had an okay start to the year and made a few little mistakes and dug myself in a hole

Read the full interview because Morton’s case isn’t the usual case of a setback or two. He’s just not enjoyed a lot of the lifestyle, the monastic existence a contrast to his more expressive and creative self. So he might have the lung capacity or mighty mitochondria but being born with a gift for the sport doesn’t mean it’s the right job for everyone.

Bryan Coquard was tipped for his sprinting and made more of a name for himself in 2014 thanks to a ride in the Tour de France where he was challenging for a stage win. But 2014 looks a lot like 2013, a string of wins in smaller French races. He struggled against the bigger names in Tour de France and while Marcel Kittel was pumping the air, Coquard was often slamming the handlebars in theatrical frustration. In sprinting winning is everything but this was still good going for the second year pro, especially as he didn’t have much of a leadout beyond Kévin Reza’s valiant efforts. He ended the season prematurely thanks to a torn shoulder after a crash. He will continue to improve and has a twin focus on the road and the track with the Rio Olympics an ambition.

Jasper Stuyven

It’s great when a country has a successful rider but it means comparisons always follow. No other nation rates the spring classics so highly and no other rider in the peloton has done as well as Tom Boonen. So the search for the “new Tom Boonen” means some riders get pressure early. Jasper Stuyven is one of the “new Boonens”. Nobody’s likely to repeat Boonen’s neo pro start with a podium in Paris-Roubaix, especially as promising riders are often protected. Stuyven’s done well and has been protected by his Trek Factory Racing team. Glance at the results and 55th Roubaix and 61st in the Tour of Flanders don’t seem much but go back and watch the video and he was working hard for Fabian Cancellara as pictured above. He rode the Vuelta and sprinted to several top-5 places and even made the top-10 in the final time trial, proof of strength in depth.

Team mate Bob Jungels was another pick. He’s been on a stage race programme with third in the Dauphiné prologue as his best result in a steady year.

Rick Zabel was picked for his name. The son of Tour de France green jersey record holder Eric Zabel turned pro very early with BMC and his season’s been solid and even a win in the Giro del Trentino team time trial. Sixth place in the Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt was very good for a 20 year old and he had several top-10 places in the Tour of Britain.

Simon Yates

If the Zabel story was about inherited DNA, the shared DNA twin story has brought added interest in Simon Yates and his brother Adam. A year ago I thought Simon might have the edge with his faster finish but it’s Adam who had the better year in terms of wins. As twins they’re always going to be compared but this year it’s difficult if not fruitless as they’ve been on different programmes. Plus Simon crashed out of the Tour of Turkey on the day Adam won the mountain stage. Adam took the Turkish race overall and went on to have an excellent Tour of California and Dauphiné. Simon returned to ride the Tour de France, a learning experience but he made a break on the stage to Gérardmer and his reputation was such that Sylvain Chavanel attacked far from the finish in order to avoid taking Yates to the finish.

Together the Yates brothers tell another story too. Some asked why they’d signed for Orica-Greenedge when Team Sky were calling. Why turn down the biggest team, why reject your own national team? The answer became obvious as the Yates brothers got opportunities that they would not have enjoyed with Sky. Orica-Greenedge are a very similar team to Sky (English-speaking, track programme roots) but have a more opportunistic racing style and rather than serving apprenticeships or being wagons in a long train Simon and Adam were given chances. They took them and arguably Adam has been the neo-pro of the year, although Michael Valgren (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Silvain Dillier (BMC Racing), Davide Formolo (Cannondale) have good claims too.

15 thoughts on “Riders to Watch for 2014 – What Happened? Part II”

  1. Great round-up, INRNG, thanks!

    Just FTR Adam Yates didn’t turn down Sky as they never offered him a contract in the first place (this has been repeated over again).

    That in itself was a glaring mistake for a couple of reasons – 1) Adam’s own talents which stared Sky directly in in the face given his success racing alongside Simon in the GB U23 squad including his 2nd on GC at 2013 Avenir; and 2) Brailsford must have known that an offer solely to Simon wasn’t going to be a winner as the brothers wanted to turn pro together on the same team. (and yeah, I know Simon turned Sky down for additional, very valid reasons).

    Adam was offered a contract by FDJ, after his time riding for their feeder squad CC Etudes.

    Whatever, great move by OGE after Avenir to offer them both a contract – its worked out brilliantly all round.

    Onto other riders, Stuyven in particular is such a talent for the future.

  2. It is really silly, but the Paris-Roubaix picture makes me sad and happy at the same time: Sad, because it is october and happy because one sunday next year it will be on again

    • I agree, but my reaction is: go ride, race and watch cyclocross. Lots of bumpy surface riding on bikes with not-so-wide tires, lots of suffering and right in my backyard. And as you say it isn’t even that far away from now.

  3. Diller, Valgren Andersen, Jungels, Stuyven and Yeates will be riders which will make their mark in the pro peloton over the next ten years. Alexis Gougeard has also been great, very exciting prospect.

  4. Maybe too North American of me, but why doesn’t cycling have an awards ceremony at the end of the season like many other sports? One of my favourite things about hockey is watching the awards night and trying to guess who will win what. Seems like it could be interesting in cycling, Best Neo-Pro, DS of the Year, Most Sportsmanlike, etc.

    • Aussie cycling has its own local awards night, across all the disciplines, not just men’s pro road. Biggest gong for the night is the “Sir Hubert Opperman medal” – aka the Oppy. but there’s also awards for each major discipline for men and women, and a “People’s Choice award”.

      Obviously doesn’t have quite the production values of big-money pro sports awards nights, but seems to work pretty well and generates some decent press during the low season. Also has the side benefit of uniting the tribes, at least temporarily.

    • It’s more there are several, the Vélo d’Or prize, the Flandrien gala, the Crystal bike. But I was thinking the UCI could hold a big multi discipline event but it’s hard to find time, many riders are away on vacation now, getting everyone together would be tough, not to mention expensive.

      • I think there are enough of those award things already. I don’t much care to see riders in tuxedos making long-winded speeches thanking everybody from the DS to the supplier of spoke nipples while the others sit around in some ballroom clapping softly. Leave that to the Motion Picture Academy or NASCAR.

        • Everybody likes to feel appreciated and if it is a way to give something back for the hard work all season and to honour that, a moment to look back at what happened and to adress that, I am all for it. But if it is only another way to generate publicity and money- not interested in that. Although you could say the talking should be done on the road, if you have someone who takes the occasion seriously and has something to say (M.Kittels speech a few weeks ago was impressive), I like to hear it.

        • No need for any of that when it can be done in an INRNG post on here. Just have INRNG pick the best of the bunch with a few words of justification. No voting, no speeches, no black ties, no red carpets, no pretentious BS, etc.

  5. In addition to his individual successes, Rick Zabel also did his share of domestique duties. He helped Philippe Gilbert win the Tour of Beijing and Ster ZLM Toer, Tejay van Garderen win the USA Pro Challenge, Taylor Phinney win the Dubai Tour and Cadel Evans win the Giro del Trentino and finish runner-up at the Santos Tour Down Under.

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