Monday, 18 February 2013

One To Watch: Kenny Elissonde

 
In the last 'One To Watch' I spoke about Romain Bardet and the ongoing French Revolution with riders like Warren Barguill and Thibaut Pinot rising quickly through the ranks and making a name for themselves in the pro-tour as up-and-coming talents. Well this week a new name emerged that should be added to that list, and scarily, he's making his mark at the tender age of 21. He really is one to watch: Kenny Elissonde...

I mentioned that this series of articles was likely to include a bunch of young French riders, though Kenny Elissonde wasn't going to be one of them. So why has he made the list now? Well because he just finished 8th overall in the Tour of Oman, Winning the Young Riders classification along the way and finishing a mere 1 minute 19 seconds behind overall winner Christopher Froome.
 
Elissonde has been described as a grimpeur or 'pure climber' and at a very minimal 52kg this looks to be true, though he can hold his own on less mountainous terrain and turn in a decent time trial which makes him a real general classification prospect for the future. It is of course his climbing that has been noticed though, and thanks to his featherweight figure he managed to finish sixth on the summit finish of Green Mountain in Oman, climbing alongside Alberto Contador, Christopher Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Cadel Evans - a clear sign of talent and a moment to savour for the youngster.
 
Though his result in Oman looks a little out of the blue - it really isn't the case. In 2008 he was adorned Junior (French) National Road Race champion. Last year he won a stage in Paris-Correze and fished 4th overall in the Route du Sud. In 2011 he won the Ronde de l’Isard, ahead, incidentally, of Team Sky hopeful and climbing talent Joe Dombrowski. It's a palmares in progress and already looking substantial for his age.
 
His talent hasn't gone unnoticed in the pro-ranks either. Indeed Omega Pharma-Quickstep are reported to have tried to sign him for the 2012 season but were beaten to the punch by FDJ, which is a very good place for him to be right now - FDJ are at the fore of the current boom in French cycling and Elissonde lines up alongside Thibaut Pinot, Nacer Bouhanni and Arnaud Demare - If all of these young talents progress together then FDJ and French Cycling really will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.
 
In his own words Kenny Elissonde will target victories on mountain stages at the Volta a Catalunya and the Giro d'Italia this year. Any rider looking to take a stage win in a Grand Tour is a rider of talent - to target a mountain stage in your first ever Grand Tour definitely makes you 'One To Watch' in my book...

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