Thanks to our Turkish partner Corendon Airlines the riders of BIKE AID could escape the cold weather of Germany one more time. Safe and fast it went to Antalya, where the riders could spend almost two weeks in the hotel of the airline, called Grand Park Lara.
Nothing is missing here! Three times a day there is a large selection of fresh food. In addition, the riders can relax in the hamam or sauna and sweat for all they're worth.
One day after the arrival in Antalya Corendon invited to a press conference. Sporting Director Anton Wiersma was able to introduce the Turkish journalists to team BIKE AID and in particular its new riders in a fantastic location with a view across the sea.
New signing Halil Dogan was in great demand and there was hardly a moment when he was not in front of the lens or giving interviews. The euphoria about the first Turkish rider in an European UCl team was absolutely palpable!
After 3 days in Antalya, filled with press appointments, training and mostly sunny weather, the newcomers also got to know the rest of the team well. There was a lot of joking and laughing during meals. The fact that they have only been together for a few days was not noticeable at all.
Good conditions for the start of the Tour of Antalya 2022 on February 10th!
The first stage covered 142 very flat kilometers from Side to Antalya. The wind, however, gave the riders a hard time. They faced headwinds of up to 43 km/h for most of the route. Except for a breakaway group, which was easily caught before the finish, the day was very quiet. There were no attacks or offensive riding styles, as you see one or the other time at the start of the season.
In the final sprint, Léo Bouvier was able to position himself well and finished in 7th place. He himself was a bit upset about the result, as he set his sprint too late and thus missed a chance for the podium by not only a bike length.
On the second day, the riders had almost 3000 meters of climbing and 180 kilometers in dreamlike scenery ahead of them. First they went into the mountains, then to a beautiful coastal road and for two longer climbs once again into the mountains. BIKE AID rode most of the day in the field. Again, there was a breakaway group that could be caught again.
Especially the young newcomers Sebastian Niehues and Enzo Decker showed a strong performance! They worked well for the team and stood their ground even in the more challenging climbs. Halil Dogan grabbed three points for the KOM jersey in a strong effort on the mountain.
The stage ended in a bunch sprint, where BIKE AID missed its chance to set up the sprint train and thus rode through the finish a bit scattered.
A flat stage with a nine-kilometer mountain top finish. Henok Mulubrhan was looking forward to day three of the Tour of Antalya!
Not too much happened at most this stage either. Two riders managed to keep the peloton at a distance until the beginning of the final climb. Once there, the tension increased dramatically. Henok got a good start from his teammates and quickly settled into the first group. Halil Dogan once again showed what he can do on the climb. Until 5 kilometers before the finish, he led the leading group to a large extent.
Just before the finish, the first group consisted of a few riders, one of them was the Eritrean from BIKE AID. In the last turn he accelerated clearly faster than his competitors and tried to pass two riders. However, they suddenly blocked his way and Henok did not manage to overtake them. This would have been the stage victory. However, he crossed the finish line in fourth place by a very small margin. Even if his performance could not be rewarded with a spot on the podium, he definitely showed what he is made of!
The fourth and last day of the Tour of Antalya was also rather quiet. The peloton rode together for most of the stage. However, the tension rose once again in the last kilometers of the race.
BIKE AID first positioned itself well, but then among themselves did not manage to stay on the wheel of the teammate in front. The mass sprint was comfortably won by the Italian Mareczko. The riders of the team from Saarland crossed the finish line a little later.
In his first race with the team, Henok Mulubrhan misses the podium of the general classification by just 4 seconds and finishes sixth overall. A good preview of what he is capable of just before the Tour du Rwanda, which starts on February 20!
In four days, the very young and mostly new team showed what potential they have. Some tactics and mechanisms they were already able to implement well in the race. Others still need to be consolidated and practiced further.
The 2022 season has thus begun for BIKE AID and the team is already very keen on the next races!
Pictures by Tamara de Graaf.