Merhawi Kudus

Well, I'm of the belief that Merhawi Kudus is really talented, and it's about time we started talking about him.

I'm certainly a bit biased to root for him, for a few reasons. First, I've got a bit of a soft spot for Eritrea. The city I live in has a small but notable Eritrean population, and I've gotten to know that community a bit because of some work I've done with newcomer organizations, but mostly because my friend married an Eritrean woman and they had the most fun wedding party I've ever been to in a back yard with amazing food and dancing and goat cooking on an open fire. The people I've met from Eritrea are warm and fun and funny and I don't think that country gets much attention for positive things (or at all) in general, so having success in sport is an exciting prospect.

Second, I am generally a fan of 'new' cycling nations succeeding on the highest level. Of course, there is the obvious added level of newness in terms of skin colour - pro cycling has largely been a white sport, a European sport. The latter has been chipped away at in recent decades, the former not as much. The sport could benefit - both in image and in substance (as there are still reports of racist slurs in the peloton) - from a little diversity. That this is a very visible and perhaps fashionable cause to get behind doesn't make it any less interesting or important to me.

Third, he's on my CQ game team. :D

Anyway, let's talk cycling talent. The kid just turned 22 years old, and he's a third-year pro, where things should start happening. This is the most extensive list of articles I could find about him, but I'm sure there's a lot more info out there, so feel free to contribute. In two years as a pro, he's only DNF'd 2 stage races - he crashed out of Turkey in 2014, and I think he crashed out of Langkawi in 2015 but I can't remember exactly why he DNFd. In his neo-pro year the team had a plan to take him out of the Vuelta after ten stages. It went worse than expected, he crashed a bunch, but insisted on staying in and made it to Madrid. Last year he coped with the madness that is the Tour de France as the youngest rider there, and although he rode it anonymously, he finished in Paris. He's a determined rider.

Finishing 2nd in Langkawi at the start of his neo-pro year was eye-catching, but it hasn't quite come together like that again in his first two years. 2016 has gotten off to a bit of a more solid start, as he made the select group and finished 6th on the hardest day of Mallorca. Then he animated the Green Mountain stage of Oman, staying with the top group of Bardet, Nibali and Fuglsang before blowing up a bit and finishing 6th on the stage, 9th overall. Still, good company to keep for a 22-year old, and instead of saying how happy he was to stay with those riders, he talked about how his gearing choices could have been better. A little ambition is a good part of the recipe for success. Doug Ryder says he's going to send him to the Giro to see if he can take a mountain stage, and then who knows what. He's already finished the Vuelta and the Tour so he knows what it takes, and he's already shown he can climb with the best. If he can put those together he might show something real as early as this year.

Eritrea has two other notable top riders right now, which are Teklehaimanot and Berhane. Both are talented and strong, but I've never had that sense of 'wow, this guy could really do some huge things' watching either of them. Certainly Berhane is only 25 and has shown he can top 5 (and, indeed, win) HC and .1 races, but by 'huge things' I mean visions of a top 5 in a GT. I would be happy to be proven wrong if either of these other riders should do that, but I feel like Kudus is really the talent most likely to do that.

Anyway, what do you guys think?
 
Well, I didn't know him, but I have followed Teklehaimanot and Berhane for a while. It's just a matter of time before nations that produce great long distance runners become competitive in cycling. Is he the one who will take it to the next level? The kid looks legit. He'll be on my radar from now on.
 
Aug 12, 2012
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He is a big talent, of course.
But Teklehaimanot was described in the UCI team with Raffa chitioui and Froome as the biggest engine riders they got there. He had someheath problems...
He has the talent, like a lot of people. He he will develop that talent to a superclass is difficult to say. So far,he is developing quite well and without problems.
I hope more from Verona, but at the moment Kudus has showed much more (I dont mean working)
 
I have interviewed him a little over a year back, very friendly guy but he was very shy (not that that is a bad thing).
In 2015 he had food poisening in Langkawi thats why he had to abandon. I personally didn't really like his schedule last year with basically only Andalucia, Trentino and the Tour (that came a bit too early) as races with real climbs. This year with the team being WT I think his schedule should be better and more suited to him, I also like he is going to the Giro instead of the Tour which was said about 2 months ago.
 
For me i recognized him after Firenze U23, he was in the break the day, in still held on to a 15th place, super strong. Will be fun to see what he can do in the future. Always fun with new talents
 
Jun 30, 2014
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He's a great rider and a huge talent, If he's riding the Giro I'll buy an Eritrean flag and then I'll cheer for him like a mad man on the Giau or the Valparola. :D
People in Eritrea a really passionate about cycling and I've always had a soft spot for the African cycling scene.
 
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markene2 said:
For me i recognized him after Firenze U23, he was in the break the day, in still held on to a 15th place, super strong. Will be fun to see what he can do in the future. Always fun with new talents
Yes, that was also my first memory of him. He seemed to ooze class on the bike and considering his background I've always been keen to follow his progress ever since. He could be the next ''big one'' to break through in the next couple of years.
 
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JRanton said:
markene2 said:
For me i recognized him after Firenze U23, he was in the break the day, in still held on to a 15th place, super strong. Will be fun to see what he can do in the future. Always fun with new talents
Yes, that was also my first memory of him. He seemed to ooze class on the bike and considering his background I've always been keen to follow his progress ever since. He could be the next ''big one'' to break through in the next couple of years.
He was not in the break of the day, the guy from Eritrea in the BOTD in Firenze 2013 U23 was Teshome. Kudus was impressive though he was near the front of the peloton almost all the tmie and got indeed a good 15th place in the end as a first year u23 rider.
 
Well, Kudus had a great showing in Valenciana - it may be early season and the depth of competition not that great, but if you're the only guy that can go with Quintana on an attack, and when he finally drops you you don't blow up but hold on to 2nd, that's pretty great as a just-turned-23-year-old.

Compare to his last year early season showing, which was hanging with Nibali and Bardet on Green Mountain before blowing up and getting passed by a few other riders. I thought he was just seeing how far he could go with Nairo and then he'd be burnt, but he held on pretty well. If the trend holds next week in Oman (PCS says he's down for that race), I'll call it progress. (also, sidenote - does he pedal at an insanely high cadence, or did it just look like that compared to Nairo? It looked like he was spinning like 110-120 or something).

I think a good marker of progress this year would be something like: top 10 instead of top 15-20 on one-week races like Burgos or Romandie or something; top 20 in a GT and/or some notable showings in breaks; a win in any race (national championships aside). Last year's results were steady but unspectacular, it'd be good to see him take a step up.
 
Jun 30, 2014
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He always has a really high cadence, even on the flat in the big ring, I noticed that durning one of the stages of the 2016 Giro della Toscana - Memorial Alfredo Martini when he attacked.
I also hope that he'll be able to finish top 10 on gc in a one-week race and I think that DD should send him, and Berhane to the Giro or the Vuelta ,I don't know if they are ready to race 2 gts in one season (I also want to see Debesay in more European races). Top 20 in a gt or stagehunting on the mountain stages would be pretty good.
Kudus is usually pretty strong at the start of the season, his base level seems to be pretty high.
 
Definitely fan. I like to see coloured riders do well, it makes the peloton more interesting. First the Colombians, then the Africans...

And yes, you are right. I specifically remember him turning out 120 rpm at some point(durian would be PROUD!), but I don't think he did that the whole way up. More like 100, but maybe I should re-watch it. Very healthy cadence.

I don't know which GT he will do and I don't know what he should do. The Giro-field is really loaded. Maybe the Tour would be better. Regardless, he shouldn't ride for the GC.

Oman-route looks hella interesting. He can definitely top-5, the field isn't overly strong.
 
Jun 30, 2014
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Yes, I just thought that the team will have other priorities when it comes to the Tour (supporting Cavendish and stagehunting with Cummings), he'd have more of a free role at the Giro or the Vuelta.
 

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