Place 13 - Kenny Elissonde
Rider type: Climber
Biggest success: 1. Ronde de l'Isard
Team 2011: CC Etupes
Team 2012: FDJ
Best Mock List placing: -
Kenny Elissonde very early did away with any doubts that he would be a rider to reckon with in the future. As early as his first junior year in 2008, when he was not yet 17, he rode in the French national championships. In his second year he confirmed this success with a stage win at L'Ain-Ternational Rhones-Alpes Valromey Tour, as well as further successes at the Prix de Marcoussis and the Trophee Louison Bobet, whose list of winners includes such names as Heulot, Mondory and Turgot.
His first year as an Espoir in 2010 with CC Etupes gave Elissonde the opportunity to measure himself against the international elite. The most notable result was of course his third place in the third stage of the Giro della Valle d'Aosta (2.2), a challenging mountaintop finish in Covarey, behind the Russian Ignatenko and the Italian Aru. Amongst those he beat were current pros Monsalve, de Clerq, Santoro and Talansky, some of whom have major successes in the pro ranks. Elissonde finished the stage race as seventh. The Frenchman had no wins on the season.
He more than caught up on that this year. So far he can count ten successes, from little wins in his homeland at Annemasse - Bellegarde - Annemasse, Trophée de l'Essor Basque, Tour de Côte d'Or, Challenge National Espoirs and the overall title at the Loire-Atlantique Espoirs with two stage wins, up to his overall win at the Ronde de l'Isard (2.2U), where he laid his groundstone with a solo win at the mountaintop finish at Superbagneres ahead of Bennet, and Dom, riding for Trek-Livestrong. He clearly beat his landsman Bardet by 2:30 minutes. A month earlier he finished seventh in the lead group at the U-23 Lüttich-Bastogne-Lüttich. But he could not convince anyone at the Giro della Valle d'Aosta (2.2) or at his second season hightlight (after the Ronde de l'Isard) the Tour de Pays de Savoie (2.2), where he was stopped by an intestinal virus.
Then FDJ offered him the possiblity of riding as a stagiaire for the professional team as of August 1. And here the young rider, who doesn't mind riding in the highest temperatures, stood up to the heat. He was 18th in the difficult Italian one-day Classic Tre Valli Varesine (1.HC), in the second group behid winner Davide Rebellin. But what tipped the scales and caused FDJ to offer Ellisonde a pro contract for 2012 was his performance at the Vuelta a Burgos (2.hc). He held himself back in the first two challenging stages, but learned how hard it can be to be a pro cyclist at the team time trial. On the hilly terrain and with a backwind, the team approached 70 km/h, a completely new experience for the slender youngster. Although still a stagiaire, he enjoyed the protection of his teammates in the TTT. He paid them back with a great performance in the closing mountaintop finish at Lagunas de Neila, when he held on to the rear wheel of Joaquin Rodriguez just a tick too long and later had cramps. He finished the stage as 11th in best company, including Anton, Arroyo and Lopez, finishing 13th overall. It was surely not the last mountain on which Elissonde will prove his abilities.
Nominated by virtualprofit, written by virtualprofit, translated by Tick