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Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 12:06 GMT
Tour 2000: Young stars
Sunflower and peloton
Young talent is bound to blossom at the Tour
There has always been an award for the best rider under the age of 25 but in recent years the leader has not received formal recognition.

Now the white jersey is back, a clear incentive for a number of young hopefuls to finish more strongly than their peers.

It is a notoriously difficult prize to call but these are the men who will hope to take the jersey at some stage in the race, and maybe wear it into Paris.

Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Banesto
Ranked 73rd

Fourth last year in the young rider classification, the leading man among those still eligible for this year's prize.

This solid 24-year-old climber also enjoys a strong world ranking and must be in with a chance.

Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Saeco
Ranked 111th

Salvatore Commesso
Will want to improve on his 1999 performance
Commesso had a superb Tour last year, following up his win in the Italian national championship a week before the race with an animated display of all-round riding.

That took him to sixth in last year's young rider classification and his world ranking is also impressive.

Sergei Ivanov (Rus) Farm Frites
Ranked 43rd

A man who seems to have been around forever but is still only 25.

Ivanov has performed well in his team's main objectives, the Spring classics, and has the class for a good Tour ride if selected.

David Canada (Spa) ONCE
Ranked 86th

Now 25, Canada is a familar product of the ONCE philosophy of strong stage race riders.

Two weeks before the Tour he held the leader's jersey at the prestigious Tour of Catalunya.

David Millar (Gbr) Cofidis
Ranked 309th

David Millar
Young talent looking for a fast start
The Scot believes the white jersey can be his on his Tour debut because the opening 16km short time trial suits him perfectly.

The 23-year-old may struggle against the talent on offer and is unlikely to keep the jersey for long, but he still has two more Tours in which to win it.

Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank
Ranked 116th

Solid results in the early part of the season has given the 25-year-old from Hanover a strong world ranking.

He proved in those races that he could compete for a week but he failed to finish when he started last year's three-week Tour of Spain.

Andreas Klier (Ger) Farm Frites
Ranked 188th

Like Niermann, a German at a Dutch team who enjoyed a profitable start to 2000.

His main success was a stong place in the Het Volk - one of the earliest season classics.

Oscar Mason (Ita) Mercatone Uno
Ranked 277th

Mason impressed during the tough hilly classics around the Belgian Ardennes, finishing both Fleche Wallone and the Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

He is also suited to shorter stage races, although is unproven at three-week level.

Andrej Hauptman (Slo) Vini Caldirola
Ranked 498th

Hauptman will be out to prove that Slovenia is about more than just football this summer.

Whether the lowly-ranked cyclist can entertain as much as his countrymen at Euro 2000 remains to be seen.

Christian Vandevelde (US) US Postal
Ranked 382nd

Do not be fooled by the Dutch/Belgian-sounding name or the lowly world ranking.

This American time triallist, now 24, was one of Lance Armstrong's main support riders last year when he was the 11th best young rider.

Laurent Lefevre (Fra) Cofidis
Ranked 414th

Last year's best young rider was a Frenchman but Benoit Salmon is now past the age of 25.

Lefevre, now 24, was the next best home rider, coming in 13th in the youth classification in 1999.

David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis
Ranked 171st

Unpredictable 25-year-old climber whom many in France fear will go the way of many promising riders in recent years.

He might win a stage but there are doubts over whether he has the durability to make his mark on the overall classification.

Dario Pieri (Ita) Saeco
Ranked 288th

Pieri's relatively low ranking is a surprise since he came second in the Tour of Flanders classic in March.

He also rode well in the Tour of Italy but how much energy will be left come the Tour?

Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Credit Agricole
Ranked 289th

A young stage winner in the 1998 Tour, the Swede is one of the English-speaking clan at the CA team, spending his winters in Australia.

Last year he quit the Tour in tears due to back pain and due to a weakness in the mountains. Another stage win rather than the white jersey will be his main aim.

Benoit Joachim (Lux) US Postal
Ranked 301st

Top Luxembourg sportsmen are rare but this 24-year-old has every chance of emulating the great cyclist Charly Gaul.

He is a surprise selection for the Tour although he won a stage into Bristol on the 1999 Tour of Britain.

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See also:

28 Jun 00 |  Tour de France
Tour 2000: Stage win hopefuls
28 Jun 00 |  Tour de France
A-Z of Le Tour
28 Jun 00 |  Tour de France
Scenes from the Tour
28 Jun 00 |  Tour de France
Stage Two in Pictures
28 Jun 00 |  Tour de France
Tour winners in pictures
Links to top Tour de France stories are at the foot of the page.

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