World Championships: 10 riders to watch in the Junior and U23 ranks

The stars of the future set to showcase their talents in Qatar

The 2016 UCI Road World Championships may be the first time all season that many cycling fans will have the chance to see the stars of the future. To help out, Chris Kuntz has picked out some of the riders from the junior and U23 categories on the men's side who are well worth keeping an eye on in Doha. 

Brandon McNulty (USA)

Age: 18
Category: Junior

Last year, American Brandon McNulty didn't lose a single time trial he competed in until his bronze medal in at the World Championships in Richmond. This year, McNulty has again remained undefeated in time trials in the junior ranks, including wins in the Pays de Vaud, Trofeo Karlsberg and the Tour de l'Abitibi stage races - the latter two leading to overall victories.

McNulty also took his second straight American Junior Time Trial title along with a Team Time Trial title with his LUX Development-Specialized team. McNulty is coming into the Worlds having only raced a handful of times since July but the Arizona native will be keen to keep his time trial winning streak alive.

Chris Latham (Great Britain)

Age: 22
Category: U23

After being in Great Britain's Olympic development program for Great Britain for the past few years, Chris Latham has hung the track bike up for the time being to focus on the road. Latham experienced big success on the velodrome including a European U23 Team Pursuit title and second place in the Cambridge World Cup in the Omnium behind Lasse Norman Hansen in 2015 but, without a spot for Rio, the road beckoned.

In his first full year without big track commitments, Latham came up with some big results in Belgium with Team Wiggins, including third in GP Pino Cerami, fourth in the Antwerpse Havenpijl and in Omloop Mandel, where he won the bunch sprint for second. Riding for the British team, Latham won a stage of the recent Olympia's Tour in a bunch sprint to lock himself into contender status for the U23 rainbow jersey.

Clément Betouigt-Suire (France)

Age: 18
Category: Junior

After a massive crash in the Junior Peace Race in May, Clément Betouigt-Suire was told he would be off the bike for eight weeks. However, just four weeks later he bounced back and was racing in the velodrome. Ten weeks after his crash, he won the opening stage of the Tour de l'Abitibi in a mass sprint. Betouigt-Suire is coming to Doha to avenge his second place from the 2015 World Championships, where he lost to his future Sunweb-Giant Development teammate Felix Gall by millimeters after a massive chase in the final kilometer. The rider from the Bordeaux suburbs is the designated leader of the French squad and his towering build is suited to Doha's pan-flat course. He will be looking to become the first Frenchman since Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier in 2011 to win the Junior World Road Race.

Jasper Philipsen (Belgium)

Age: 18
Category: Junior

Hailing from Ham, Belgium, Philipsen could be in the hunt for medals in both the time trial and the road race, if all goes well. Philipsen was a surprise last year in the Richmond time trial when he placed 6th and, while there are stronger favorites on paper for the time trial, the flat, twisty course could end up suiting a classics-style rider, like Philipsen. For the road race, Philipsen doesn't have the top-end speed of some other sprinters (like his teammate & friend Gerben Thijssens) so the race will need to break up for Philipsen to have a true chance. This year alone, Philipsen won the E3 Harelbeke Juniors & Guido Reybrouck Classic, as well as placing fifth in the Junior Paris-Roubaix and third in the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne Juniors.

Kristoffer Halvorsen (Norway)

Age: 20
Category: U23

To say that Kristoffer Halvorsen surprised many when he came second in Nokere Koerse this year would be an understatement. Halvorsen is in just his second U23 season and up until then hadn't had much in terms of results after moving up from the junior ranks, but he was second only to Timothy Dupont - undoubtedly the continental rider of the season - while beating the likes of Dylan Groenewegen on the cobbled uphill sprint. That performance was only a prelude of what was to come as the Norwegian, known affectionately as 'Doffen', won stages in the Tour de l'Avenir and the Olympia's Tour, along with winning the GP d'Isbergues ahead of names such as Romain Feillu, Dan McLay, and Bryan Coquard. A victory for Halvorsen in Doha would make it two Norwegian wins in three years in the Men's U23 road race, after Sven Erik Bystrøm's triumph in Ponferrada in 2014.

Miles Scotson (Australia)

Age: 22
Category: U23

At the beginning of this year, Miles Scotson was on the short list for the Olympic Team Pursuit team for Australia after being part of the World Championships squad that beat the British juggernaut on their home soil. Fast forward to Rio, where Scotson was forced to watch the Australian team, which included his younger brother Callum, finish second to the flying British team after being a surprising non-selection. After shaking off the bitter disappointment and refocusing his efforts on the U23 Worlds Time Trial, the South Australian comes in as one of the big favourites, especially after winning the recent 15.3km time trial at the Olympia's Tour by nearly 30 seconds. Scotson is looking to turn pro in 2017, and a big result could be key in landing those contract offers.

Lennard Kämna (Germany)

Age: 20
Category: U23

After having ridden through much worse conditions than his podium counterparts in last year's U23 Worlds time trial in Richmond, Lennard Kämna's bronze medal ride was one of the most impressive on the day. Having won the European and World Championships in the junior ranks in 2014, Kämna has been a bit all over the place in terms of his results in the U23 ranks, from mountaintop finishes to one-day races, but when he sets his mind to a time trial, he can put himself in podium contention on nearly any course. Most recently in August, Kämna beat Italian Olympian Filippo Ganna and Frenchman Remi Cavagna by over 30 seconds to win the European U23 TT title. Hailing from right outside of Hamburg, Kämna will be at home with Doha’s flat terrain and windy conditions, although the heat could be a hurdle in his quest for the rainbow jersey.

Pascal Ackermann (Germany)

Age: 22
Category: U23

Germany is a country synonymous with powerful sprinters. Bora-Hansgrohe signing Pascal Ackermann definitely fits this mold and he will be looking to use Doha as a stage to announce himself. Ackermann wasn't a first year U23 that blew people away on the road, as most of his junior results came from the track, but after a few years of steady results, Ackermann is gaining a reputation as one of Germany's finest young sprinters. Ackermann won two stages in a row at the Tour de Berlin this year but more notable were his appearances in pro races. Ackerman was seventh in the Rund um Köln, fourth in the elite road race at the German nationals and then third in the Münsterland Giro in a sprint behind John Degenkolb and Roy Jans. Ackermann will be co-captaining Germany with Bora's Phil Bauhaus, and both should benefit from the huge engines of Max Schachmann and Lennard Kämna in the finale.

Simone Consonni (Italy)

Age: 22
Category: U23

Simone Consonni is a rider looking for redemption in the desert. After Frenchman Kevin Ledanois got away solo on the final lap of the U23 Worlds road race in Richmond last year, Gianni Moscon (now at Team Sky) did a huge turn in the final kilometer and dropped off Consonni to try and reel the Frenchman in but Consonni was a single meter too late. Following the disappointment from Richmond, Consonni spent considerable time on the track as apart of the Italian team pursuit squad for the Rio Olympics but he did win the U23 road race at the Italian Championships along with a handful of other races for his development team, Colpack. Consonni is not even the Italian captain (that is split between Wilier-Southeast's Jakub Mareczko and Consonni's Colpack teammate Riccardo Minali) but if the wind kicks up and the sprint becomes more select, Consonni is certainly a wildcard to keep an eye on.

Nils Eekhoff (Netherlands)

Age: 18
Category: Junior

The sprints in the junior ranks can be all over the place, with one rider rarely dominating over the course of a season - at least on the international circuit. While Nils Eekhoff might not be the out-and-out fastest, he has proven his speed before and, above all, he has been consistent across the season. Eekhoff won the final stage of the Junior Peace Race in a mass sprint and continued his sprinting prowess by gaining top-five places in sprints through multiple Junior Nations Cup events, culminating in a fourth place in the European Junior road race in Plumelec. The unpredictable and attacking nature of junior races could see Eekhoff in a very good position if the race breaks up.

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