The Cup of Zemgale stage race in Latvia began today in a great way. The 3,1 km long prologue was won by Niklas "Nikke" Henttala representing Fincycling with an average speed of 47,29 km/h in 3 minutes and 56 seconds. Niklas is one of the talented Junior riders in the team, and he will be wearing the leader's yellow jersey tomorrow. You can find the full result list here.
(note: pictures taken by www.fincycling.com)
The race will continue with a 70 km stage tomorrow following by another ITT stage. The race will end on Saturday August 30th. Five stages with somewhat short stages will make the race really explosive. Juniors from many strong cycling countries are represented, such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Belarus and Finland of course.
All stages listed:
• 27th August – prolog ITT – 3,1 km, starting at 19.00
• 28th August – road race – 70 km starting at 11.00
• 28th August – ITT – 15 km, starting at 17.00
• 29th August – road race – 115 km, starting at 15.00
• 30th August – road race – 90 km, starting at 10.00
What's great about this week's race is that the Fincycling squad is actually "bigger" than usual. Besides juniors who have been competing with Fincycling throughout the season, also juniors who will join the squad next year have the opportunity to race with the team. The only way to become a professional is to compete on a high level, and with Fincycling this opportunity is given to our young talented riders.
At the beginning of the season talking with the Fincycling people, we heard that the first year will be dedicated to the junior boys aged 16-18 and that the project would aim to support even girls and U23 men in the future, maybe in some years. Well the Fincycling squad has already done something supportive for both of those. Earlier this month in Norway, the Fincycling team introduced girls in their squad in the Arctic Heroes of Tomorrow Race (more of this later). And again, in Cup of Zemgale the Fincycling team is introducing Laura Vainionpää (W U23) to the racing field. It's a great way to gain experience competing with the guys.
It is with joy I watch the Fincycling team, that began as a project only less than a year ago, grow and do so much good to the sport in Finland. More than any Finnish national organization has been able to do in a long time, maybe ever? Having heard how the boys have learned during this year, and been able to improve as cyclists both in and out of the saddle makes me really feel positive about the future of Finnish cycling. Of course there are lots and lots of work to do and we know the road to the elite is tough, but all the hard work done by the Fincycling team gives a solid ground for our juniors to build on.