Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Junioren (juniors)

The Dutch word for junior is "junior." The plural is "junioren" or "juniores."

Competition gets a lot harder once a youth reaches the junior categories. If you visit Belgium for the first time as a junior, expect some very hard racing.

Not surprisingly, this is the time when many decide to leave competitive cycling. The reasons are severalfold.

First, individual differences due to the onset and time course of puberty are disappearing.

Second, most riders know how to ride in big packs now and their bike handling skills are no longer an obstacle to success. European riders have also learned to ride as a team and individual riders know how to use the car caravan to get back into the race after a flat or mishap.

Third, because the fields are more homogenous, nearly everyone who is committed has to train hard and does so.

And finally, a lot of distractions (girlfriends, parties, cars, etc.) become more easily accessible and those who are less serious quickly abandon the sport.

In short, European juniors mean business!

Like nieuwelingen, juniores are subject to restrictions such as gearing (7.93 m is the max, or a 52X14), maximum distance (regional events: 100 Km; national events: 120 Km; international events: 140 Km) and number of events. The distances are more restricted for the first three weekends of competition (80 Km and 90 Km for IC events). Juniors can take part in a maximum of 4 events per week, three of which can be in the same discipline.

The overall limit for juniors is 60 competitions per year, with a maximum of 50 in the same discipline. Juniors may enter a maximum of six stage races per calendar year. A stage race counts as one race, but no competition is allowed the day before and four days after the stage race.

Juniors are allowed to use disk wheels in time trials and individual time trials are common in stage races.

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