It was just one day to go until the start of the Tour de Bretagne in Guenrouët and Frenchman Léo Bouvier woke up with a fever. He was one of the most important riders for this race. However, the decision was clear that he could not ride like this and a replacement had to be found quickly. Jesse de Rooij, who had recently returned after a year-long injury, took his spot. Without further ado, he drove 800 kilometers from the Netherlands to Brittany. At the last minute, unprepared for the coming seven days, but still highly motivated!
The first hurdle was overcome. However, no one could foresee that the misfortune and bad luck should drag through the whole week.
A relatively calm first stage ended in a hectic finale. Pushing and nervousness led to crashes and so it also hit Wesley Mol, who however got away with a black eye. The resulting disorder took away the chance for the teams to set up properly for the sprint. Jesse de Rooij boxed himself forward position by position without further ado. His courage was rewarded and the Dutchman, who had arrived only one day earlier, sprinted to a strong ninth place. A successful start!
Already on the second day, mechanical problems made life difficult for the riders of the Saarland team and they lost a good position on the 152 kilometer long, hilly stage. Things looked a little different on the following day. In the final circuit, Wesley Mol was able to show his good shape on the climbs and as a result rode into the top 20 of the day.
The fourth stage, however, put the team's morale and motivation to a hard test, which was to last until the end of the race.
Jesse de Rooij crashed twice in one day. Julian Lino also went down on the asphalt and was only able to continue in pain. However, giving up was not an option for him at the race in his home region. Lucas Carstensen was not spared bad luck either. Just before the finishing lap he had a mechanical problem and as a result had to swap his bike in the last 15 kilometers. A big crash before the final then slowed him down once again. A stage that every rider just wanted to leave behind.
The fact that the following stage was almost 200 kilometers long did not play into the cards of the BIKE AID riders after the unfortunate previous day. Due to the wounds, recovery was more than suboptimal and the day became a pure feat of strength.
However, what was admirable was the mentality of the team! Despite the crashes and defects, motivation was still high. The will to fight, to go as deep as possible and sacrifice each other was remarkable. With pain-distorted face Julian Lino then unfortunately had to abandon the race on this stage. The effects of the crash the day before were simply too great. He went to the absolute limit and proved character as well as fighting spirit!
On the penultimate stage Jesse de Rooij then showed once again that the guys could not be crushed by anything. He rode in the breakaway of the day and put all his energy into presenting the team at the front of the race and a possibly spectacular result. However, he was caught in the last kilometers before the finish. Here Wesley Mol showed his skills once again. On his way to a sure top 10 finish, however, he was then stopped by a crash in front of him. In addition to the injury misfortune of the previous days, Lucas Carstensen had a hard crash, which forced him to abandon the race.
On the seventh and therefore final day in Brittany, BIKE AID started with only three riders left. With their last reserves of energy they tried to represent the team once again in the breakaway. However, they were not alone with this idea. Despite several attacks they did not manage to prevail against the numerically superior teams. The mentality and motivation, to give everything once again despite all circumstances, though, was incredibly strong!
Even though the Tour de Bretagne went anything but as expected, team BIKE AID feels absolutely honored and happy to have been able to participate in this race once again. The enthusiasm for cycling and the atmosphere in and around the race are something very special in France. Especially for the riders, the race was certainly a profound experience, but this is also part of sports.
Already on Sunday the guys start in Belgium at the one-day race Flèche Ardennaise. A week later, the team will travel to France once again for Grand Prix du Morbihan.