By Hedwig Kröner
The 44th Tour de l'Avenir, an Espoir stage race starting off today in Belle-Île-en-Mer, Bretagne, has returned to its former concept of national teams. Up until 1980, the event solely featured national squads instead of the mix with trade teams of recent years, but French organiser ASO has changed the formula for this year. Moreover, the maximum age for participating riders has been downgraded to 23 instead of the former 25.
The race, held from September 6 to 15, will see 20 nations battle it out over a total distance of 1435 kilometres, divided into 10 stages. The peloton will consist of 21 teams of six riders each, with France sending two groups to the event. This year's Tour de l'Avenir will also be the last race in the newly-introduced UCI Nations Cup, which includes the GP Portugal, La Côte Picarde, Under 23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Giro delle Regioni and the GP Tell.
1 - September 6: Belle-Île-en-Mer, 148.5 km
2 - September 7: Quiberon - Saint-Jean-la-Poterie, 164.5 km
3 - September 8: Pipriac - Cholet, 138 km
4 - September 9: Cholet - Contres, 211.5 km
5 - September 10: Sassay - Sassay, 24 km
6 - September 11: Contres - Saint-Amand-Montrond, 143.5 km
7 - September 12: Cérilly - Super-Besse, 175 km
8 - September 13: Besse-et-Saint-Anastaise - Brioude, 134 km
9 - September 14: Chomelix - Craponne-sur-Arzon, 148 km
10 - September 15: Craponne-sur-Arzon - Saint-Flour, 148 km
The participating teams are Slovenia, France A, Denmark, Portugal, Russia, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Spain, Switzerland, Lithuania, the United States, Poland, Canada, Ukraine, France B, a mixed team and Norway. Favourite riders, amongst others, are Norwegian Edvald Boassen-Hagen and Dutchman Lars Boom, who will be targeting the title taken last year by Spaniard Moises Dueñas.