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Balkans International Discussion
Ulrich Ulriksen
Balkans International



Welcome to the 2020 PTHC Balkans International. The third year for this race, all at the same level. The 2020 parcours repeats the 2019 adventure so here is what last year’s brilliant introduction had to say about the course:

“The race covers 6 countries across 8 days with 6 hilly stages and 2 for the sprinters (stage 2 and 7). With the hilly stages featuring a lot of tough climbs but nothing decisive we could see a final showdown on the climb to Ligkiades on stage 8.

But starting at the beginning - the race opens with a 187km of up and down climbing going from Ljubljana to Zagreb. After that we have a flat stage to Prijedor in Bosnia, the third country covered in the first two stages. After two days touring Bosnia, stage 5 sees a return to Croatia with a stage finish in the historic seaside resort of Dubrovnik. From there race heads south through Montenegro and Albania before the grand finale in Greece on the aforementioned climb, which concludes the brutal 225km final stage”.

Last year Stage 1 proved surprisingly decisive as Lillian Calmejane, at the time riding for Team Europcar, took 3rd from a breakaway and then made his lead stand up for 7 more stages to win the GC. It wasn’t enough for Europcar to survive relegation so they aren’t back, but Calmejane is. This time he rides for PT favorites Isostar – Specialized. They would love a repeat but, in all likelihood, they will ride for pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/iso.png Mohoric, which might be a misjudgment since he could only finish 10th last year.

The race’s other winner, pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/ino.png Bakelants, is back and does feature on the favorites list along with last year’s 2nd place, pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/afk.png Hagen. The full list of the top favorites is:

pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/aeg.png De Bie7371847576
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/afk.png Hagen7669847873
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/mos.png Sagan7274837674
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/rak.png Kinoshita7372837777
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/iso.png Mohoric7271837772
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/ino.png Bakelants7073827575
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/eav.png Van Garderen7372827975
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/evo.png Lopez7079827874
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/min.png Claeys7266827166
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/fes.png Koretzky7371817970
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/akm.png Kwiatkowski7278817576
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/eav.png Gastauer6870817569
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/sct.png Beltran6979817672
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/isa.png Vakoc7171807471
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/tti.png Vogt7362806371
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/adp.png Ulissi7666807571
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/bgc.png Paulinho6775807572
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/p4e.png Prevar7271807370
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/mol.png Waeytens7071807370

The top 7 (through pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/eav.png Van Garderen) are all similar riders and all except pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/aeg.png De Bie have placed in the top 10 here in one of the prior editions. The Belgian’s best finish is 17th and with his team fighting relegation he has added pressure this year, hopefully his offseason work will pay off in this race.

Sitting 8th on the preview is pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/evo.png Lopez, one of 3 favorites, along with pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/sct.png Beltran and pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/akm.png Kwiatkowski, who will be hoping their ability on the long climbs will make a difference. Beltran’s 5th last year is a good omen.

The remaining riders on the list are probably not contenders for the overall, although last year pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/mol.png Waeytens converted a win in that stage 1 break into 3rd overall on the GC. We will see if the peloton gives him the same license this year.

In addition to the climbers listed above the race also attracts a number of other mountain specialists:

pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/p4e.png Padun6780777574
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/lpu.png Oomen7180756977
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/gzl.png Formolo7279797176
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/fpc.png Yates7179767680
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/pum.png Arndt7179767576
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/aeg.png Velits6879726268
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/sct.png Giogieri6578736774
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/gzl.png Sosnitskiy7078727377
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/des.png Nazaret6678696975
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/sct.png Ablenado6778676577

pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/pum.png Arndt, pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/gzl.png Formolo, pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/fpc.png Yates, pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/lpu.png Oomen and pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/p4e.png Padun all seem to have the all-round skills to threaten the pure puncheurs.

There are two stages where neither the puncheurs or the climbers will be favored, those are the stages for the sprinters, who include:

pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/tti.png Moser72807969
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/lpu.png Bonifazio79808075
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/fpc.png Van der Sande75797973
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/min.png Kalaba74797972
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/eav.png Holloway77798176
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/ino.png Suryadi71797668
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/pum.png Aregger73787771
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/fes.png Bouglas72787867
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/isa.png Contreras72788075
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/evo.png Liepins73787968
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/rak.png Kuboki73777774
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/p4e.png Ackermann72778071
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/azt.png Tivani70777878
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/mol.png Lovassy68777768
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/min.png Hodeg70777672

With only 2 flat stages it is a fairly small field. pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/lpu.png Bonifazio will hope to make up for a poor season here, while pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/eav.png Holloway, a similar sprinter, has experienced success against this kind of field in the Tour de Suisse.

(thanks to redordead for the code to set-up and color code the tables)

Full Start List


Edited by Ulrich Ulriksen on 04-06-2021 23:43
Man Game: McCormick Pro Cycling
Last year De Bie lost contact in weird splits for no reason on every single stage despite being a top3 favourite and similar riders winning.

Can't need such scenario this year. With the latest trend expectations aren't high but pressure is highest.

All but a podium is too less and basically here to win the race and 1-2 stages.
Given how Beltran has done this season, I can't expect anything more than ranging from a disaster to an underperformance. But if he can't perform in our only home race and the only race on the calendar that should cater to his stats, well then he's pretty much useless Rolling Eyes

Thanks for the nice preview Ulrich Smile


"I am a cyclist, I may not be the best, but that is what I strive to be. I may never get there, but I will never quit trying." - Tadej PogaÄŤar
Such an important race. Hopefully Mohoric can do something. Calmejane should be a very good option, and I hope Alex Roman can prove the preview wrong for not being mentioned, he can use his climber/Puncheur skillet for a good GC if the race goes haywire.
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Hmm that was a bit worse than expected. No chance Koretzky will come away with a succesful race here. I guess we have to be somewhat lucky for Boily to be the right statcombination to enter the top 10 instead, but seeing as he isn't even mentioned as an outsider I doubt that.

Bouglas not mentioned as a sprinter either can't be good. I would have put him atleast on par with Kuboki, Tivani and Aregger.

Let's see what happens. We need a decent race.

Some high expectations here for a change, there's a few stages Oomen should like and Bonifazio has two chances to save his future with the team.
Changed my sig, this was getting absurd.
This has become a season defining race for us. We need a sensational result and points haul to stand a fair chance at avoiding relegation.

If we can’t manage, we’ll definitely relegate.
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Luis Leon Sanchez
Hopefully Ulissi can achieve something brilliant and that the MO stay isn’t important at all.
Absolutely crucial race for Evonik. We need a huge performance from Lopez to catch up with Isostar again. In theory the profile should be pretty much perfect so i made sure to not block him with Skujins.

We also have Liepins here but i'm not too confident about him here... Partly because he didnt make the preview Pfft
A Big Thank You To All MG Reporters!
And To All Who Organize Something On Daily As Well!

Stages 3 and 8 here should really be ones for the climbers rather than the puncheurs, so it made sense to send Yates here and Turgis to Britain. Considering the strength of the field it's a gamble, but with Guerreiro in support we should be able to push the pace on the longer climbers and be competitive in reduced group sprints.

Van der Sande is here to have a crack at a stage win, and I wouldn't rule out him making it to the finish in the front group on a couple of the hilly stages as well. Whether he actually bothers to sprint is the real question though Pfft
I see another reporter has converted to the redordead coding Grin Nice preview, I'm rooting for De Bie and Beltran, who haven't had the best of seasons yet Smile
Pretty stacked startlist. Curious to see what Formolo can do here. Positioning might be crucial
Gonna need a win here. We'll see, but Kinoshita has done well here in the past (I think).
Jesus Christ pretty stacked startlist. Hopes of getting a good result here eventually disappear after looking at this start list
The only hope is that Paulinho's 76 MON will end up giving him some advantage over some of the other riders. Realistically I think the top15 will be the best we can achieve.

Lopez it's my bet for the final victory
pcmdaily.com/files/Micros17/bgc.pngManager of Berg Cyclespcmdaily.com/files/Micros17/bgc.png
I hope both teams from this region Isostar and Swisslion will proudly defend the honor as home teams and hope MohoriÄŤ, Polanc, Beltran... can show something great at this race.

Good luck to other teams too but my wishes are at Isostar and Swisslion BananaGrin

I'm really interested to get information on where did they find so many climbs between Ljubljana in Zagreb. The only two climbs that are going into my mind are one around 20 km from Ljubljana and another one next to Novo mesto.

Wish you all good luck and great preview Ulrich.
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/tst.png i.imgur.com/XZ5vU9L.png
Ulrich Ulriksen
Feeling a little pressure here as this race seems to be make or break for a number of folks.

The field is really deep with strong climbers, puncheurs and sprinters, I missed a few all rounders because I didn't want to list the entire field in the preview.

I did somehow mess up the sprinters list so have fixed that so Leipins and Bouglas now show up. But that is a lot of sprinters trying to win 2 stages.

Since I started late it is my current plan to post one stage later today and two stages on Saturday and Sunday. Given I post on East Coast US time that means one mid-afternoonish site time and one overnight.

@Tinixia - I too have noticed that that relationship between mangame stages and the actual terrain is sometimes curious.

Good luck to all.
Man Game: McCormick Pro Cycling
TinxiaS wrote:

I'm really interested to get information on where did they find so many climbs between Ljubljana in Zagreb. The only two climbs that are going into my mind are one around 20 km from Ljubljana and another one next to Novo mesto.

Ulrich Ulriksen wrote:

@Tinixia - I too have noticed that that relationship between mangame stages and the actual terrain is sometimes curious.

Having taken a bus from Ljubljana to Zagreb myself, I could see how there are climbs between the two cities, but perhaps as UU said, the MG created roads where there are none irl.
Luis Leon Sanchez

Fantastic report of what was a very exciting stage for those with riders in the breakaway. Teklit proving too strong for his companions and giving himself great time in the GC as well.

I don’t expect him to be able to hold on to the GC lead and I also have no idea how my team will react with Ulissi as my designated leader but I’m happy!
Very annoyed about the result, we had four domestiques alongside Lopez in the top 40 and we couldnt be bothered to chase down the break? Not acceptable...

Hard to read anything into the favourites but Lopez finishing only behind Hagen and De Bie from the top guys looks solid
A Big Thank You To All MG Reporters!
And To All Who Organize Something On Daily As Well!

Great report, UU! Not so great start for us, with Kwiatkowski being invisible. Hopefully it turns out good, seeing there was no gaps among the GC contenders.

Big, big win for Aramco. Congratulations, LLS! Smile

Also, and this is pure speculation from me, an idea for next season might be to have an uphill finish on the first stage in this race, as the descent and easy finish seems to heavily favour a breakaway in this PCM edition. It will be interesting to see where this race goes from here. Fingers crossed we get exciting racing and not passive GC contenders happy to ride with the bunch.
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