4 weeks, 4 stage races was the name of the game for BIKE AID. Tour de la Mirabelle, Ronde de l'Oise, ZLM Tour and finally the Route d'Occitanie. For the team, especially for the infrastructure and the staff, it was a real test. Even if the planning looked different at the beginning, invitations, such as from the ZLM Tour, are an unbelievable enrichment for a small team and are never turned down! And so the programme is set.
A week ago BIKE AID raced at the ZLM Tour, the biggest stage race in the Netherlands. A UCI Pro Series race, one category below the Tour de France. On the final stage, Jesse de Rooij crashed heavily. In the meantime, however, he has fortunately recovered.
From the Netherlands, it was off to the renowned Route d'Occitanie in the south of France. The race in the Pyrenees is considered by many World Tour teams to be the last test before the Tour de France and it offers the opportunity to race over some of the Pyrenean passes.
Since 2018, the team from Saarland has regularly received an invitation to this race, which in itself is an absolute honour! At the same time, of course, this invitation is also a challenge, as it means that something also has to be shown in the race.
"Of course we did a great job today, with Wesley Mol first dominating the race in the breakaway and Léo Bouvier sprinting into the top ten afterwards," said Matthias Schnapka after the first stage.
As the best teams fought for position in the finale, Léo Bouvier was constantly at the front representing the BIKE AID jersey and in the end, with 8th place, it was enough for the first top 10 finish for the team at the Route d'Occitanie!
Due to an extreme heat wave, the second, mountainous stage had to be shortened to 34 kilometres. Jasper Pahlke attacked the only breakaway of the day and presented the BIKE AID jersey once again. In a short mountain top finish, it was Jesse Ewart who finished the race in the first group, amongst the world's top climbers.
On the last two stages, the class of the eight World Tour teams participating in the Route d'Occitanie prevailed. Although the team from Saarland worked well together, it became more and more difficult to keep up with riders like Quintana, Valverde or the winner of this tour, Michael Woods, from climb to climb.
Nevertheless, team BIKE AID, with Jesse Ewart in 24th place and Dawit Yemane in 27th place in the final GC, took their best result in this race. With a strong performance by Wesley Mol in the group of the day and the top 10 sprint by Léo Bouvier, the team also showed that it is versatile and competitive against the really big teams!
After a hard and exciting month, it's straight on to the national championships for some of the riders. This weekend Dawit Yemane will give his best to defend the Eritrean jersey. Jesse Ewart will compete against a strong field of riders in his home country Ireland and Wesley Mol in the Netherlands. Of the team's German riders, Sebastian Niehues, Enzo Decker, Jasper Pahlke and Lucas Carstensen will compete in the German Championships in Sauerland.
Just one week later, the team will travel to Romania for the Sibiu Tour (UCI 2.1) starting on July 2nd.
Pictures by Route d'Occitanie