Rouleur 111, the youth issue
Fausto Coppi would have observed: “Age and betrayal will prevail over youth and skill. There again, Fausto Coppi has never met a generation of young riders like the one who upsets all the old assumptions according to which talent is nothing without experience.
Sportingly, young riders are winning races at incredibly young ages right now. Egan Bernal won the Tour de France at 22 in 2019. Then Tadej Pogačar won it aged 21 the following year. And again at 22 last season. Remco Evenepoel skipped the U23 category completely and won the Clásica San Sebastián at 19. In women’s cycling, Lorena Wiebes only recently turned 23, but she already has 40 victories. Outside of professional road cycling, whole new disciplines are emerging – the gravel scene may be well over a century newer than road racing, but it is thriving and creating new participants and audiences for the sport.
We celebrate the youth earthquake of cycling in the Rouleur 111, which arrives with subscribers this week, and which is also available for purchase here.
And what better way to embrace the creativity and energy of youth than putting a white jersey on the cover of the magazine? Ours is a white jersey with a difference: we allowed pupils from Dulwich Wood Primary School to decorate it with their original bicycle designs.
We interviewed a few different young riders, each at slightly different stages in their careers and from very different sporting and cultural backgrounds. Andrew Curry went to visit the German wonderkid Marco Brenner, which is just one of the latest examples of a talented junior going straight to the WorldTour, bypassing the U23s. Brenner represents DSM, whose roster has the youngest average age in the WorldTour, and who have distinguished themselves for focusing on youth development, even at the cost of losing older, more successful riders.
Our editor-in-chief of Rouleur Italia, Emilio Previtali, spoke with Vinicius Rangel, the young Brazilian rider from Movistar, on his plans and ambitions in cycling. Rangel personifies the principle that you should never forget to approach life with a child’s heart: he has a portrait of himself made by a friend, like the character Son Goku, from the manga Dragonball. He also tells Emilio that one of his ambitions for the year, beyond winning bike races, is to feel the snow for the first time.
Sepp KussCredit: Sean Hardy
And the editor-in-chief of Volata magazine, Olga Àbalos, enjoyed a captivating interview with Sepp Kuss, a runner more advanced in his career than Rangel and Brenner, but who still characterizes the younger generation of runners. Kuss may be one of the strongest climbers in the world, but he still exudes a youthful energy, which is perhaps a legacy of his background in the sport: mountain biking.
Although young cyclists do so well in their early twenties, they still have to learn how to be a racing cyclist. Joe Laverick, U23 rider with Hagens Berman Axeon and talented writer, gave us a first-hand account of cycling’s toughest finishing school: the Belgian circuit. Racing in Flanders can chew up and spit out the unwary and unlucky, but it’s also the ultimate proving ground for a young driver. Laverick’s first three results in Belgium were: DNF, DNF, First, all achieved in and around fit races, training and trips to races while studying for his A-Levels. Luckily, Joe has done well at A level, and his racing results aren’t too bad either.
Go Team Pogi! 1 credit
Kate Wagner has already covered Tadej Pogačar by winning the Tour de France and is an expert in Slovenian cycling. She traveled to Ljubljana last year to visit the team from which the two-time Tour winner came, and find out how he got involved and named it, to encourage the next generation of talent. Will the next Slovenian cycling star emerge from the Team Pogi?
The Backstedts. Credit: Benedict Campbell
The Rouleur youth issue also features Isabel Best’s visit to one of the UK’s most prosperous cycling homes: The Backstedts. Isabel spoke to the four members of the family: Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus, British champion Megan (née Hughes), Gent-Wevelgem junior winner Elynor and world junior road champion Zoe to find out the secrets of their success. (A lot of nature, a lot of culture, very long motorhome trips and very efficient laundry logistics). Former Rouleur editor Ian Cleverly also visited a WorldTour professional Parents of Alex Dowsett to find out how they supported a son with hemophilia in a sport that is more injury prone than most.
Although a small number of male riders are skipping the U23s to head to the WorldTour, the lack of a U23 category in women’s races has made the transition to the Women’s WorldTour extremely difficult. Despite the high-profile exceptions, almost all male runners race in the U23 category, where the standards are extremely high but which provides a stepping stone to being able to compete in the biggest races of all. Rachel Jary spoke to some riders who found the process difficult and asks why the UCI dragged on their heels for so long to create an U23 category.
And for some light relief, Rouleur presents Petit Rouleur: our section of fun activities featuring the difference, a devilish cycling crossword and every cycling fan’s favorite game, Where’s Wout?
Rouleur 111, The Youth Issue, is now available. Please subscribe and support Rouleur’s immersive, high-quality coverage of the world’s greatest sport.
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