Written by Don Hamstre of Schiavi di Don
The wildlife surrounding Edmonton is breathtaking. Not only because there are bears chasing you, but also by the pure natural beauty of the landscape. Just before Edmonton Red Deer Tour starts in William Hawrelak Park, I decide to enjoy nature and take a hike along the parcours. Walking across Emily Murphy Hill, the first real challenge for our riders, I get a good impression of how tough this race might be. After a while longer I reach Walterdale Bridge, a 100yr old steel bridge accross the North Saskatschewan, a truly impressive feat of engineering. Suddenly I hear an old voice.
‘Stop! Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, 'ere the other side he see’. I was astonished. ‘Aren’t you supposed to be in the UK?’, I asked the bridge keeper. ‘Well, yeah, but this whole article you’re writing won’t make any sense either way, so why should I make sense?’, he answered. ‘Also, the organization of the Tour has hired me to create a spectacular entrance for all the team managers. They will soon be arriving, so get moving before I throw you into the Gorge any way!’.
Soon, the first manager arrived at the bridge. ‘Who is your captain’, was the bridge keepers’ first question. ‘What is your quest’, he continued, roughly in line with his usual script. ‘What is your favourite colour?’ should have been his third and final question, but the old man decided to breach his contract and add a fourth. ‘What is the funniest thing you know about Canada?’. The organizing committee of Edmonton Red Deer Tour was not amused by this, but considering the old man had a Gorge of Peril to throw them into, they decided to let him off the hook. After a long day of listening, I managed to pick up all the answers of those who had to pass the Bridge.
Captain: Elias Cuello can work his magic for the last time before retiring.
Quest: Top 5 GC would be nice, although he is no Farruco or Gale.
Favourite colour: Anything but red
Funniest thing about Canada: "Blame Canada"
A very strong looking team, but Cuello has hit an age at which you can’t really expect any miracles from him. I would not be surprised if Francesco Joinoe ends up with the captain spot after all.
Captain: Dan Dideriksen
Quest: I'd be happy with Dan in top 9
Favourite colour: Not Specified
Funniest thing about Canada: Not Specified
Another relatively old captain, and not the biggest amount of support possible. Might be just good enough for a top-9, but he’s definitely on the outside looking in as far as I’m concerned.
Captain: I don't have one, but after the TT it will be Nedelec, Bat-Ochir or Nix.
Quest: I don't think Nedelec can win GC, so I'm probably more interested in a good YC finish.
Favourite colour: Well I'm a goth, so black, obvs
Funniest thing about Canada: - Nope, I've got nothing.
Bat-Ochir is a very good young rider, and the only thing holding him back from a YC win should be his age. Harland Nix has a better age, but he is much less strong on the hills. This will be a very difficult decision to make for Manager Corum, but I’d much rather be in his shoes than in many other managers that don’t have luxury problems.
Captain: Cosmin Mutu in TF
Quest: 2nd place guaranteed,so why not triying to win it?
Favourite colour: Yellow,can't say why...It was always like that.
Funniest thing about Canada: The maple on the flag...It was also always like that.
Mutu has already won this tour, and finished 2nd and 3rd as well. Funnily enough, familytour also finished 4th in the first edition with another rider named Cosmin. The constant factor in this tour should compete for the podium again, barring injury or bad luck.
Captain: Carl Perry but "Hill" form could sway me to swap with little known youngster Ihsan Kiziltan.
Quest: To place in Top 15. We don't have a chance, in it for the experience.
Favourite colour: Gold
Funniest thing about Canada: Canadians don't lock their front doors.
First of all, I would like to state that not all hamsters are criminals that want to rob peoples’ houses. That’s just me, why do you think I would be in Canada any way? But these Hamsters are here to race, without any riders perfect for this tour, but with a shot at some stage top-9s for sure.
Captain: Mark Turnbow / Rubert Smidt
Quest: Looking for strong results on the three non-tt stages. Anything on GC would be a bonus, but I'm not going for it.
Favourite colour: Hard to choose between the green, yellow and blue of the Brazilian flag. Oh yeah, it has white too.
Funniest thing about Canada: They really like Kraft dinner
Kraft dinner is one of the many reasons why Italians don’t particularly like Canada, but we’ll get back to that later. The Brazilian team has some strong hillers, so they might end up with a surprise top-9 gc finish if the results go their way. If they focus purely on stage hunting, they should have an outside shot at a podium on all of them except the prologue, but with different riders.
Captain: Drahomír Slovák. Great mountaneer, loves windy weather, but needs a lot of help in hills.
Quest: Just to gain enough points to get to the 3rd division.
Favourite colour: White, blue, red.
Funniest thing about Canada: Once there was such a cold weather, that sled dogs broke in half when making a turn. :)
think I’m probably the only one genuinely intrigued by how a sled dog breaking in half would sound. Moving on, the Slovakians should be able to score here and there, but Slovak’s hill skills are terrible, so the GC should be out of reach.
Captain: Our captain will be Cas Bleiswijk as he is our hilly sprinter and arrives in good shape!
Quest: The team goal is to win the prologue with one of our two TT guys, Ørn Grøn and Asgeir Huseby. And then we change focus to help captain Cas in GC.
Favourite colour: Light blue as our tricot like Astana
Funniest thing about Canada: That the prologue runs through a national park of brown bears :)
That last fact does explain the large number of crashes we’ve had in previous editions….
Bleiswijk is a dark horse for the GC as far as I’m concerned, his stats suit the tour very well. The lack of hill support might put the podium out of reach, but who knows how the dice will roll.
Rock Tour Team Hungary
Captain: My captain will be "Hamar Arnold" in Edmonton
Quest: I have no serious mission, it will be good if I settle in the first twenty
Favourite colour: My favorite color is red, but my favorite colors are red-white-green.
Funniest thing about Canada: The funniest thing about Canada is, first of all, a joke about woodcutters. (Sorry) Anyway, my school mate, who is now a Canadian citizen in Toronto.
If he means this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZa26_esLBE , with the first part his last answer, I am sure that the old man on the bridge would very much appreciate it. Having a local connection can be helpful as well though, so the local crowd might support him. Hamar Arnold is a lovely rider, no stats above average, but still a 53 overall that might be able to surprise.
Captain: Augustin Leroy
Quest: Death or Glory (or some podium results on stages)
Favourite colour: Green
Funniest thing about Canada: There is nothing funny about Canada
Death could definitely arranged at the Bridge of Death, but I guess the chance of Glory was still ahead of him as well. Leroy is a very good pure hiller, and should definitely be able to get the sought after stage results. Good to see a pure hilling team in the tour of hillers.
Captain: Morris Granger, maybe he's not the best rider or the favourite for the race, but we are pretty sure he will surprise you with his performance. Who knows where he can become? He is also supported by a great team and he's riding on his hometown.
Quest: We expect any stage win as best result but we don't discard anything, we will do our best and the team is so strong, The experience of Kurt Unstadt, a veteran that is still representing to the Liechtenstein National Team, the incredible skills of Lucio Raimondi and experienced domestiques like Patxi Gay and Joseph Beck, we have also have a promise like Cirilo Revuelta, a newbie with an incredible Potential as a climber, he can be the future of the team.
Favourite colour: Blue, green, black or white are nice colours but I don't care too much about colours.
Funniest thing about Canada: Not sure if it's funny but in Canada you can get a positive penalty fee.
In Italy I also regularly get positive penalty fees, but I’m pretty sure those aren’t covered under the official law. The team does have strong support indeed, but the captain just isn’t very impressive. It sounds like that’s the tactic though, so maybe everyone will underestimate his abilities and he will be able to surprise them. And of course there is the home support, which should give the Canadian an extra boost.
Captain: My captain will be Marten Wotte, just like last season.
Quest: Hopefully he will be able to compete for the YC, however a lot of strong young riders were signed up for this tour, so it is gonna be very hard. (That's what she said.)
Favourite colour: My favorite color is currently the color of the YC jersey of Edmonton Red Deer Tour. So it's yellow. And red.
Funniest thing about Canada: Well, I don't know much about Canada, only a few stereotypes from American movies, like Canadian people are polite and nice and scared in dark (HIMYM). But I know Jim Carrey. He is definitely a funny thing.
Marten Wotte makes a very strong case for being the YC favourite. A very talented Tour rider, reminding me of my own ‘Rainbow’. If he would lose the YC, it would be up to his support, not his overall quality. And I’m not just saying that to be nice, after all, I’m not your buddy, mate!
Junee Racing Team
Captain: Raymond Blanchard
Quest: Top 10 on GC with Blanchard. Failing that, a win in the prologue with Grzybowski would be great.
Favourite colour: Blue
Funniest thing about Canada: Robin Scherbatsky is a Canadian icon.
Blanchard has the abilities to finish in the top-10. Personally, I would aim at a top-9, but hey, if finishing 10th can make someone happy, who am I to complain? With the small amount of pure TT’ers, the win in the prologue could be within reach as well.
Captain: F. Zechner
Quest: looking for some stage win
Favourite colour: Not Specified
Funniest thing about Canada: Canada? big and cold
You might have been waiting for it since the Budapesti VSC part, but here it is. Big and cold? That’s what she said! I am the pinnacle of comedy.
Zechner might struggle on the King’s stage, but a stage win in one of the other hilly stages could become a reality with his strong HL/SP combination.
Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Captain: Causton, He does curse to me a lot about having to ride a TT.
Quest: Finding a Moose
Favourite colour: Poutine
Funniest thing about Canada: Pizza Hawaii was invented by a Canadian. I expect a sorry.
Finally! Somebody mentioned the #1 reason why Italians don’t like Canadians. Pizza Hawaii is a true work of evil. It has done more damage to this world than Niccolo Maffia.
A team from Burkina Faso, with an Irish captain, this sounds like the start of some bad joke as well. Let’s hope for their sake that their performance will be more than just a bad joke.
Captain: probably Rogel Yisraeli
Quest: anything more than 2 top 9 stage or top 9 GC will be appreciated.
Favourite colour: Blue
Funniest thing about Canada: The licence plates in northern Canada is shaped like a polar bear
Well, better to have a polar bear on the back of your car than inside of it I guess. Although Deer probably kill more people in total than polar bears. Don’t pin me down on those numbers though. Yisraeli might be leading the tour after the first two stages, but the King’s stage will probably be too much for him to expect anything other than a top-9.
Captain: Julio Muro
Quest: Try to win a stage and also to do a top 10 GC and top 3 YC with Julio and TT stage with Santos marquina
Favourite colour: Green
Funniest thing about Canada: The French Canadian accent :)
I’m not going to try to write this part in Quebecois, and especially not in a French accent, because even though Edmonton is quite far away from French speaking Canada, the would definitely hunt me down. Those people don’t mess around.
Julio Muro is a lighting example for kids all around Bolivia, and I very much hope he’ll be able to inspire them with some success here. The win in the YC looks out of reach, but a podium there might be possible.
Captain: Bert Koch, maybe on the last stage Uxley
Quest: "We are jumped to place 260 on the sign up day and their was a cheap hill helper on the hire list, so I decided let us go to Edmonton and let us have fun. Especially for my two Canadian riders I think it is an important challenge, even if the hopes arent too big. Maybe we have good legs and are able to earn some money on stage 3 or finish at top 3 in YC, that would be great. But the goals are just: testing our new wheels, improve xp and skills, check how competitive our team is and score less than 70 points.
Favourite colour: grey or red and black in combination
Funniest thing about Canada: It is the country with the longest coast and has a very young president, but these arent really funny facts.
Who says Justin Trudeau isn’t a funny thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRnwK01n904 ?
If this would be a downhilling tour, it should have been called Justin Trudeau Red Nose Tour.
Scoring less than 70 points should definitely work for the team, because Koch isn’t really a hiller and the support to help him there is not sufficient to make up the difference to the competition. But that shouldn’t stop them from having fun!
Surprisingly enough, some teams managed to avoid having to cross the Bridge of Death. Turns out there was a lower deck of the bridge as well. Let’s not tell that to the managers that lost some of their staff during the process….
This Danish team brings Lev Ivancic, a decent hiller, who might lose some time on the TT, but has some decent support to help him make up on the other stages.
A very impressive line-up for Gianluigi’s men. The King’s stage suits their captain, Pietro Capecchi, the least however, so he’ll have to hope that his team mates will allow him to keep his podium chances alive.
Mateo Grande sounds very Italian, but he’s actually Spanish. Even more confusing is that his team is Italian. Great…
But the team should be able to get some results with him, especially in the King’s stage.
Fully Irish and with young blood, this team should definitely be hungry for a YC victory. The name Homer Ravencraft should already deserve a prize in itself. Deer generally don’t like wolves too much, so they might get some opposition from the locals in their quest.
On paper, this is one of the strongest teams in this tour. However, none of it’s riders seem to fit the tour very well. Jankulovski is signed up as captain, but he lacks hilling ability, which is crucial in Edmonton. It will be interesting to see what the tactic will be for this team.
The final team of our preview, and once again a very interesting one. Fritz Zöllner is the pride of Liechtenstein, but he will be chasing those who do have time trial abilities after the prologue. A very scary rider at the height of his career should definitely be able to compete though.
All managers surviving the Bridge of Death were also asked who their favorites to win the GC and YC were. However, there was very little agreement amongst them. The names mentioned most were Marten Wotte, for both classifications, Altanzul Bat-Ochir for YC, and funnily enough since he turns out not to be the captain, Francesco Joinoe.
Looking at past results, and support, my bet would be on Cosmin Mutu. Sorry familytour, he’s not going to win because of it.