It was a very controversial decision. Many advised Team BIKE AID not to travel to the country situated at the Persian Gulf. The situation on the ground was too dangerous and cycling would not be the right thing for the local people. However, management and riders decided to go because the past has shown how important it is to consider this a great opportunity.
With incomparable cordiality, warmth and openness, the team was welcomed in Tabriz by the organisers of the tour. And also in contact with the local people, in the accommodation or during the transfers, the team was always given a positive feeling. Due to the difficult situation in the country, the people were happy about the tour. It offered distraction, interesting influences from teams from all over the world and new things to talk about for the Iranian people. During the stages, cheering spectators bustled along the roadside and for a moment, cycling seemed to make the tense situation fade into the background for them. These are exactly the moments and experiences for which Team BIKE AID embarks on a journey like this. Only those who witness these scenes at first hand can understand their true meaning and share them with others.
From a sporting point of view, the tour was also successful. In the final GC, David Yemane finished in a strong third place, only 15 seconds behind the winner of the Tour of Iran! Adne van Engelen took eighth place and Jesse Ewart just missed the top 10. Furthermore, Lucas Carstensen prevailed in the bunch sprint on the second stage and took the stage win. At the mountain top finish of stage three, Jesse Ewart also took a spot on the podium. In the team classification, BIKE AID was the third best team, only 17 seconds behind.
What remains after this tour, however, are the strong impressions, the remarkable optimism of the Iranian people and the clear confirmation that it is worthwhile to do the unusual.
Pictures by Rattapong Rueanmao