Only two days after the final stage of the Ronde de l'Oise, the team continued racing in the Netherlands at the ZLM Tour. A race which, due to the flat stages, serves as preparation for the Tour de France for many sprinters. To compete as a continental team against Jumbo-Visma, INEOS, Team DSM or Alpecin-Fenix is always something special. However, the BIKE AID riders have often shown how competitive they are even with such top-class teams. And so it should be with this race!
The tour started in Kapelle, the home of Wesley Mol. After only ten kilometres, he decided to put on a show for his local fans and rode away from the peloton without further ado! Wesley was the number one topic of conversation on TV and in the live ticker from then on and all cameras and eyes were on him. After some time, four other riders managed to catch up to him to form a small breakaway group.
In the last 40 kilometres of a very fast first stage, the peloton managed to catch them. The day ended in a tight bunch sprint in which the BIKE AID riders just missed the top 10. A great start!
And also on the second stage BIKE AID rode in the group of the day. This time with Enzo Decker! Together with nine other riders, he quickly pulled away from the peloton and gained a good lead. The group rode well together, but with 80 kilometres to go, Enzo's day ended abruptly.
Severe pain in his back, which went all the way to his legs, forced him to get off his bike and jump into the team car. Very bitter for the 18-year-old rider, who had performed very well up to this point!
The next rider to draw attention was Léo Bouvier. After great help by his team mates on the third stage, the Frenchman managed to sprint to an extremely tight 18th place. With a little luck, a good top 10 finish would have been possible! The next day, Léo attacked again and after only 20 kilometres he was in the group of the day with six other riders. In the last kilometres, the peloton accelerated rapidly and managed to catch up with the breakaway riders. For Léo, however, giving up was not an option and in another sprint finish he came in as 16th. An incredible feat of strength and an extremely strong performance by the only Frenchman in the race!
After four days of racing, where BIKE AID definitely attracted attention, the ZLM Tour ended in a rather unpleasant way. Jesse de Rooij was involved in a mass crash and went down hard. With 11 stitches in his face, a concussion and half an hour of memory loss, he reported to the team the next day. He said that everything could have been much worse and that he was happy not to have suffered any further physical damage. Get well soon Jesse!
With a very strong and promising team performance, the ZLM Tour ended last Sunday. The team from Saarland presented itself offensively in the race, always made sure there was something to talk about and earned plenty of minutes on TV. They had bad luck health-wise, but didn't let it show at all and did their thing!
BIKE AID is honoured to have taken part in such a high-class race and hopes to be part of the next edition!
The 46th Route d'Occitanie starts in just three days against an extremely strong field with many World Tour teams. A race for the climbers, which Quintana or Valverde won't miss!