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Tour de l’Avenir: the GB selection

GB reveal the six riders - and three reserves - earmarked for the biggest U23 stage race of the year

Matt Brammeier, the Elite Road and Senior Men’s Academy Coach, has revealed his squad for the Tour de l’Avenir.

The race – translated as ‘the Tour of the Future’ in English – is widely regarded as the premier under-23 stage race in the world, an important stepping stone for future stars. Indeed, the five most recent winners are Tobias Foss (2019), Tadej Pogačar (2018), Egan Bernal (2017), David Gaudu (2016), and Marc Soler (2015).

This year’s edition takes place from 13 to 22 August over ten stages. The route includes a prologue, a team time trial, three flat(-ish) stages, and plenty of mountains, including two summit finishes and a short, sharp 71km mountain stage featuring three climbs.

The six-rider GB team is a mix of British Cycling-based riders and top talents from the TRINITY Racing team. It contains riders suited to every type of terrain, strong enough that the team should be competitive for stage wins and the general classification.

Let’s take a closer look:

Bob Donaldson (GB Senior Academy). First-year under-23 who has had a very solid season already, working mainly in a team role so far. We’d expect him to take on team duties again at l’Avenir, although as a UCI road race winner, he’s more than capable of taking any opportunities he gets to ride for himself.

Tom Gloag (TRINITY Racing). Our Baby Giro diarist came fourth in that race and will be GB’s man for the mountains. He’s only a second-year under-23 his impressive results suggest he’s already capable of making a step up to the pro ranks. When we interviewed him for our podcast earlier this year, he said he wasn’t rushing to turn pro quite yet but, who knows, a top result at l’Avenir might change that trajectory.

Oli Stockwell (GB Senior Academy). Stockwell is a first-year under-23 with bags of talent. He’s a former British junior road race champion and has impressed in the few domestic road races he’s ridden (8th in the Return to Racing for Big Dogs, for example). Like Donaldson, he’s accumulated a solid season of UCI racing too and should be an important team player this time around.

Ben Turner (TRINITY Racing). Ben Turner has been one of the most impressive British under-23s on the road this season. Perhaps even the most impressive. The 22-year-old finished 9th in the under-23 world cyclocross championships in January and has been busy lighting things up since he returned to road racing in May. Despite not quite getting that win yet, he’s had nine top 10s in UCI road races so far this year, including three podiums, wore the maglia rosa for the day at the Baby Giro, and was 6th in the Otley GP. A fast finisher who can get over the hills well too, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him come away with a stage win.

Ethan Vernon (British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme). Vernon was called up to the Olympic squad last year after impressing selectors and is currently part of GB’s team pursuit squad in Tokyo. On the road, he is a strong time trialist and a very fast finisher, so once he re-finds his road legs he could either be in the mix the sprint finish wins or a critical lead-out man. He could be a favourite for the prologue and will be a key man for the team time trial too.

Sam Watson wins stage 3 of Kreiz Breizh Elites, 1 August 2021. Photo: Gus Sev – photographe

Sam Watson (GB Senior Academy). The star of the GB Senior Academy so far this season, the second-year under-23 took his first UCI road race win at the Kreiz Breizh Elites just yesterday. An all-rounder with a fast finish, the win had been coming after an impressive year that has also included wins at the Tim James Memorial and the Crimson Performance road race and top 10s in UCI road races. Just as we were writing this, however, Watson crashed out of the Kreiz Breizh Elites, so we will have to wait and see if can still participate in l’Avenir.

Should Watson, or any of the others, not make it to the start, there are three strong reserves:

Lewis Askey (Groupama-FDJ Continental). Our podcast diarist and former junior Paris-Roubaix winner has had a fine season, making several appearances for Groupama-FDJ’s WorldTour already. The Rayner Foundation rider is a more than capable stand-in and one of our under-23s to watch in 2021.

Toby Perry (La Tova-Asesoría Almudévar). Toby Perry has been one of the revelations in 2021. Based in Spain this year, he’s taken the amateur race scene by storm. With six wins and numerous podiums, the Rayner Foundation rider has shown he has the strength, speed, and race nous to win on a variety of terrains.

Joe Pidcock (Groupama-FDJ Continental). Another first-year under-23, Tom’s younger brother has already shown a few flashes of his own talent this season. He came close to the win on stage 1 of the Tour de la Mirabelle, being pipped into second by Rory Townsend (Canyon dhb SunGod) and has been part of two strong team time trial performances for his Groupama-FDJ Continental team.

Featured photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 27/08/2020 – Cycling. 2020 European Road Championships, Plouay, Brittany, France Men’s U23 Road Race
– GBCT Great Britain Cycling Team Rhys Britton, Alfie George, Max Rushby, Ethan Vernon, Sam Watson , Xeno Young