30. 5. – 2. 6. 2024 UCI Europe Tour

The Peace Race and the Tour de l'Avenir are the highlights of the UCI Nations Cup

It belongs to the TOP category! The U23 Peace Race is part of the UCI Nations Cup series for cyclists under 23, which also includes, among others, the French Tour de l'Avenir and the Polish Orlen Nations Grand Prix. These are the battles that reveal the future stars of the professional peloton to the world. The champions of the races where the battles are fought in national jerseys are soon the central figures of the World Tour teams.

The Tour de l'Avenir, in particular, with sixty-two editions, is one of the key events of the under-23 race. However, it also has the nickname of the "little" Tour de France. The race course usually includes challenging mountain stages and long time trials, allowing young riders to demonstrate their skills and talent.

For sports directors, the Tour de l'Avenir is a real test of skills before potentially signing long-term contracts in the World Tour. The race tests endurance, strength, skill and mental toughness.

For example, Miguel Indurain, later five-time Tour de France winner, Greg LeMond, three-time Grande Boucle winner, Laurent Fignon, two-time winner of the Old Lady, Bernard Hinault, five-time Tour de France champion, Tadej Pogačar, Egan Bernal and Nairo Quintana are also among the historic winners.

The race was held for the first time in 1961. It was founded by L'Equipe magazine for cyclists without a professional licence as a less demanding version of the Tour de France. Twenty years later, the event was opened to professionals, and since the 1992 season, stages have been reserved for juniors only, while since the 2007 edition, cyclists under 23 years of age have only competed for national teams.

Ironically, the most successful participant in history is Sergei Sukhoruchenkov from the then Soviet Union, who won in 1978 and 1979. He is the only one to have two overall triumphs, and he also finished second overall twice. From the Czech point of view, Miloš Hrazdīra's second place in 1976 and Jiří Škoda's silver in 1984 are clearly the greatest achievements.

Sukhoruchenkov has the most stages won - six - together with the local Emmanuel Magnien. Miguel Indurain, Olaf Ludwig and Sébastien Chavanel have one less partial triumph. Miloš Hrazdíra has two stage victories, first in the fifth stage in 1971, and the second time in the ninth act of the 1978 edition.

Only the best will succeed in the Polish Tatras 

The Orlen Cup is a relatively new addition to the calendar of races in the under-23 category. The first edition was held just before the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic in 2019. It quickly gained prestige due to its extraordinary difficulty. In fact, the stages often take the peloton to the Polish part of the Tatra Mountains, so the elite adepts must really show themselves in the best possible light.

The 2024 edition will even take place on Czech territory. The opening stage will take place entirely in the Czech Republic, the second act with a start on Czech territory will take the peloton to Poland, and then it will be ridden in Poland.

Among the champions of the first editions of the race are, for example, Marijn van den Berg from the Netherlands riding the World Tour for EF Education Easy Pos or his compatriot Olav Kooij from Visma Lease a Bike.

The UCI Nations Cup has been held since 2007. The list of races for cyclists wearing national team jerseys up to 23 years of age is changing. Races in Belgium, North and South America have been added. The calendar has changed frequently, but the Tour de l'Avenir and the Peace Race in the Jeseníky Mountains are among the constants. In the 2024 calendar year, the UCI Nations Cup includes only three races in France, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Photo: Tour de l'Avenir

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