Place 8 - Yannick Eijssen
Type of Rider: Climber
Biggest Success: Winner Ronde de l´Isard 2010
Team 2010: Team PWS Eijssen-Kempen (Belgium)
Team 2011: BMC
Best Mock List Ranking: new
Already there is a big weight loaded on the narrow shoulders of Yannick Eijssen. The last win of a Belgian at the Tour de France is already 34 years past. So it is perfectly normal in a cycling-loving country that a competitor against Spaniards or even Luxembourgers is yearned for. So it is not surprising that you could hear the disappointment in Michael Wuyts´ voice when he had to announce that Eijssen had cracked on the road up to Risoul. Even more so when wearing the leader´s jersey of the Tour de l´Avenir. But let´s begin at the begin.
Eijssen was born on the 26th of June, 1989 in Leuven. His first successes in the Junior scene date as far back as 2005. He was really noted in 2007, when he won 6 races in 3 different countries. At the French Tour du Valromey the Belgian showed his strength in the mountains. Up to Hauteville-Lompnes he took no less than 3 minutes off the second-placed. In the general classification he placed second behind Dominik Nerz. Even better it went for Eijssen at homeland Liège-La Gleize. There he won another stage and also the overall ranking. It doesn´t surprise that there also good climbing abilities are necessary, as there are a lot of hills that are also part of Liège-Bastogne-Liège on the course. Additionally he placed second at the GP Rüebiland and won a stage and the overall classification at the Kroz Istru on the hilly Istrian peninsula. In the Junior´s Wordcup he placed second to Polish super Junior racer Michal Kwiatkowski.
2008 went not so well, maybe because of the move to the Under 23 class. A team was formed around Yannick, called PWS-Eijssen. His father Ronny invested in his own son, but also in other Belgian Under 23 hopefuls. His best result he had in the Belgian national jersey, placing 6th in the Ronde de l´Isard (2.2U).
2009 went better. Eijssen won the one-day-race Deurne-Diest and also the Belgian also improved on the French climbs. At the Tour des Pays Savoie (2.2U) in June he made the podium. At the mountain-top finish at La Toussuire Thibout Pinot could beat Eijssen only in a tight sprint. In August there was another second place at a hilltop-finish in Cautarets at the Tour des Pyrénées (2.2). Eijssen gained a stagiare contract at Silence – Lotto, but his results were nondescript. But at least he could help Gilbert in his Piemonte win. Back then it was already announced the Eijssen would ride for the Belgian team in 2011 after his last Under 23 year.
That 2010 would be his most successful year was clear even early in the season. In the end of February he surprisingly won the flat Beverbeek Classic (1.2). He went clear in the finish and beat Cammaerts by two seconds. On this he could build his season. Another confirmation of his increased strength was 6th place at the Under 23 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège (1.2U). But even so this isn´t really his terrain, he likes long climbs much better. In the end of May he could prove this at the Ronde de l´Isard (2.2U). At the decisive mountain-top finish at the Plateau de Bonascre, known from the Tour de France, he took so much time from his rivals that he not only won the stage but also the overall classement. Also in the beginning of August he won the one-day-race Dilsen-Stokkem with an advantage of more than 5 minutes. Some days later there was another race in the Pyrenees. At the Tour des Pyrénées (2.2) Eijssen and his Polish breakaway companion Przemyslaw Niemiec distanced the competition on the road to Pla d´Adet by more than 2 minutes. Niemiec won the stage, Eijssen finished 3rd overall. The strong August was finished by Eijssen with a good 2nd place at the Belgian Under 23 championships. In September came the Tour de l´Avenir (2.NC). This is the most important Under 23 stage race and again Eijssen was convincing. In the third stage he could get away on the descent from the Col du Chansert from a breakaway group and was not caught on the following mountain-top finish at the Col du Béal. This win brought him the overall lead which he could keep until the afore-mentioned stage to Risoul. In the general classification Eijssen finished on a rather disappointing 14th place.
The great talent of Yannick Eijssen shines most in tough mountain-top finishes. There he also had his best results in Junior years. There are some exceptions, but these show his generally strong physique, which is also needed for a climber. How well he can show this in his first Pro season, will depend on how team BMC, which was - surprisingly for the Belgian cycling community - announced as his 2011 team, will use him and how his talents are built up there. Without doubt Yannick Eijssen is a rider who could deliver Belgium from their Grand-Tour-winless time. The first necessary step he has already taken by going to a foreign team.
nominated by gardener, chreezer, ocana, Offi & ogkempf, written by ocana, translated by bugno