After a short prologue of two kilometres, the highlight of the Turul Romaniei 2022 was waiting for the team from Saarland on stage one. After 205 kilometres and almost five hours in the saddle, one rider after the other sacrificed himself for sprinter Lucas Carstensen. After a perfect leadout, Lucas crossed the finish line first in a very close photo finish. What a start! The team lay in each other's arms and the joy was obvious to them.
"This is definitely a very important win. Personally, I have had a lot of bad luck this season with crashes, defects in crucial situations and a lingering Covid infection. After almost three months, this is my first real race and I'm really happy to have won!" Lucas Carstensen said after the race.
This win was also of special importance because BIKE AID rode with a black ribbon for the recently deceased Sule Kangangi on this day and was able to dedicate this victory to him.
Also on the second stage the team did a great job to protect their sprinter in the best possible way. In the finale Lucas Carstensen gave his team mate Léo Bouvier the go to try and get a result himself. The young Frenchman did well in the bunch sprint and finished 11th, a strong result after his 8th place the day before.
Due to a neutralised section, shortly before the finish of stage three, this stage was somewhat unusual. No group was left to ride the whole day. After the final climb, BIKE AID's plan to get Enzo Decker and Léo Bouvier to the front succeeded. They were the first to start the fast downhill. Here, however, the streak of bad luck for the team from Saarland was to begin. In a promising position for a stage win, Enzo Decker crashed just three kilometres before the finish. Léo Bouvier continued to hold his own at the front of the race and took 12th place, his third top 15 finish in three days! Fortunately, Enzo was only slightly injured and was able to continue the next day.
But bad luck also caught up with Enzo Decker on stage four. After a very strong effort, the young rider found himself in a small breakaway group, almost six minutes ahead of the peloton. However, when he arrived at the 23-kilometre climb of the mountain Balea Lac, he had a mechanical defect. The neutral material car didn't have a suitable wheel for him and when the team car arrived at Enzo's place, the advantage was gone. Wesley Mol was also caught out when he had two flat tyres at the same time.
On the mountain Balea Lac the Frenchman Julian Lino worked his way up position by position until he reached the leading group. On the descent, however, one of the many potholes caused his downfall and he crashed so badly that he could not continue.
After a stage marked by bad luck, Wesley Mol crossed the finish line just behind the day's winner.
Despite tired legs, Léo Bouvier sprinted to 16th place on the final day in Bucharest. In view of the exertions of the previous days, no one can complain about the way the Tour of Romania ended.
With the Tour of Serbia, Team BIKE AID has the next race in south-eastern Europe coming up. Starting on September 17th, the riders tackle a total of four stages, two of which are for the climbing specialists.
Pictures by Turul Romaniei