Best Young Rider & Espoirs
56“…the trainee champions were able to taste the sensation… [it’s] clear to us that the values of cycling had here acquired new meaning.” Christian Prudhomme on Tour de l’Avenir
There seems to be a 57bigger pool of younger talent capable of competing with more senior riders in recent years. Perhaps kids during the Armstrong era – inspired to race by increasing media coverage and financial opportunities – are coming of age as wizened, saddle-worn warriors. There’s a trend toward greater competitiveness with more senior counterparts and sometimes the Best Young Rider category offered in big stage races is a GC contender as well – like Andy Schleck in the Tour for example. These sons rising toward a golden day of professional leadership provide a race within the race in parallel with what’s necessary to do well as a GC leader.
Often the jersey is won by a rider who is already very experienced even if younger. Certainly some nations excel with a highly developed pipeline toward pro racing via grass roots networks that send through well-taught trainees. Similar to American Little League baseball, where best young pitchers can toss at speeds nearing professional players and coaches have more players than positions, the countries producing young stars encourage both depth and breadth. By the time these espoirs flick the teens, they’re already strong and smart enough to jump past inexperienced and under-trained peers into professional teams that have squads to develop and utilize them.
Only 58one American team so far uses such a program, and successfully! Talented riders and team efforts by the domestic-based young B squad can sometimes beat well-funded pro squads at home. The sport seems to have shifted so that Best Young Riders are among the best of riders, and average age seems a bit younger than ever before. The Espoirs burst out like an eager sun on a new era of cycling!
Prayer for Best Young Rider & Espoirs
“Father, it’s time. Display the bright splendor of your Son.
So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor.” 59John 17:1-2
We are grateful for programs that encourage and advance emerging young cyclists. We ask to take care regarding the responsibility and privilege of instilling ethics and values into this amenable age-group. We ask blessing on our best young riders and upon espoir racing.
Ponder What values are relevant for this age? Affirm I want young riders to be spiritually and emotionally ready too! Watch and wear a “white” jersey of good values as a clean slate for cycling’s future.
56“Editorial: More Verve & Spirit,” on Tour de l’Avenir 2008 by Christian Prudhomme, Director of Tour de France posted on www.letour.fr. Tour de l’Avenir is the biggest event of the year for espoir riders and consists of Under-23 national teams.
57I can find no study to support this, so this is my opinion based on observation of trends. More juniors are coming out of the amateur ranks and getting pro contracts because of the average age restrictions for pro teams set by the UCI and because there is more young and capable talent available now than ever before.
58Garmin-sponsored Slipstream is the only team in America that is also focused on espoir and junior development from within its system for the purposes of Europro competitiveness. I know of no other American team, also competitive in Europe that had such a system. This system is common for Europro squads.
59The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson