The Tour de l'Avenir is often referred to as the mini-Tour de France and is a proving ground for young talent. Former winners of the race include Felice Gimondi, Greg LeMond, Miguel Indurain, Laurent Fignon, Nairo Quintana and current Vuelta a Espana leader Esteban Chaves.
During this year's Tour de l'Avenir, Cyclingnews reporter and DirectVelo founder Pierre Carrey has been taking a closer look at the potential stars of the future with a series of profiles. We may be seeing a lot more of these guys in the future. Click on the links below to read the full feature on each rider.
Fernando Gaviria (Colombia)
In Colombia, sprinters are often in the shadow of the climbers. The Tour de l'Avenir, which takes place on the French roads until the Alpine finish Saturday, is no exception, as the fast man Fernando Gaviria, a neo-pro with Etixx-Quick Step in 2016, had to give his wheel to the mountain expert Sebastian Henao on the first stage on Sunday.
The undulating course, through Burgundy's vineyards, was designed for a sprinter like Gaviria but the Colombian national team is fully focused on the general classification with Henao, who normally rides with Team Sky and is so much tipped as a favourite that other teams asked the UCI to change the rules and prohibit WorldTour riders in the Under-23 "mini-Tour de France".
Colin Joyce (USA)
The Tour de l'Avenir is certainly one of the peaks in his season, but Colin Joyce can't refrain from doing his favourite joke in the peloton. The 21-year-old American, seventh in the first stage on Sunday, a round face with impish eyes, tells Cyclingnews he might do one of his favourite pranks in the coming days: "I tap the other side of my teammates and they think it's someone else!"
It goes without saying he never jokes like this in tense moments, too close to the finish line, but these 'kind thoughts' can help to enjoy the long days on a bike, like Sunday's ride at the 'l'Avenir': 192-kilometres of racing and 9 kilometres of a neutralised start.
Søren Kragh Andersen (Denmark)
Danish double stage winner works a lot on psychology Søren Kragh Andersen doesn't go wild. He was sitting on the hot seat behind the scenes, waiting for his challengers to beat his time and crossing the line, one after the other, on the Tour de l'Avenir's prologue, in Tonnerre, Burgundy. He almost apologized or minimized his performance: “I am not an expert in time trial”. He had flown over the cobbles, the 12% climb and the fast downhill where he reached 84km/h, but the Danish strong-boy didn't want to celebrate too much.
Alex Peters (Great Britain)
The high mountains will be a moment of truth for Alex Peters, as the Tour de l'Avenir climbs some iconic ascents from Thursday. "He will relish the 'cols' and you will see who is the real Alex," his coach Neil Martin tells Cyclingnews.
The leader of the U23 Team of Great Britain will be a stagiaire with Team Sky this season (and a full-time team member from 2016). He has certainly done well on some UCI races like the An Post Rás (second on GC last year) and the Tour de Bretagne (second overall and stage winner this year), but he remains quite unknown and has no big records in the very hilly races.
Guillaume Martin (France)
A “philosopher-climber” took the stage victory and the lead of mountains classification at the Tour de l'Avenir Thursday, at the French-Italian border, in the ski resort of La Rosière. Indeed, Guillaume Martin, the Frenchman who is now second overall at three seconds behind Austria's Gregor Mühlberger, completed Masters in philosophy in June at Nanterre University, close to Paris. His subject of studies was, somehow a question of sport: the links between spirit and body in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche.
In one world, mountains mean to Martin both Thus Spoke Zarathustra (the famous book in which a sage goes up and down a mountain) and his favourite playground as a cyclist.