Archie Ryan rests against a fence post-stage. He rode into fourth overall by the week's end.

Gallery: Future stars at the Tour de l’Avenir

by Caley Fretz

photography by Anouk Flesch

The stakes, one could argue, are higher in this single late-summer week than at any other point in a talented young rider’s year. This is the U23 Tour de France, the Tour de l’Avenir, a make-or-break for many. Ride well and a career is launched. Ride poorly and you have some explaining to do.

L’Avenir is a cauldron that takes in some of the hardest climbs in world cycling, pitting national teams of U23 men against each other in a nine-stage test of potential. High stakes beget hard racing and hard racing makes the stakes even higher. It’s a vicious cycle that chews up and spits out those without talent or luck or a bit of both.

This year’s race was won by Cian Uijtdebroeks, who has already signed with Bora-Hansgrohe. For more takeaways and riders to keep an eye on, check out Joe Laverick’s crystal ball.

Take a good, long look at photographer Anouk Flesch‘s photos from the Tour de l’Avenir. Remember the faces, remember the names. These young men are about to be the best male bike racers in the world.

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