The current BIKE AID continental team consists of 25 people from eight countries on three different continents aiming to get things moving in cycling. In a few days the team will start into its second season and visit many exotic destinations worldwide and face challenging races in Europe. Therefore it is time to present the entire team of 2015!
Nikodemus Holler was the last one to join the team a couple of days ago. The 23 year old has lots of stories to tell for his young age and is a perfect fit for our team. It’s almost out of character for a competitive athlete to be involved in social initiative in his professional life. In 2012 he became the German Vice Champion in the U23 league with the „Thüringer Energie Team“. The team is known to be the most successful U23 team in Germany that every current German world class rider like Greipel, Martin, Degenkolb and Kittel once rode for. Due to his success Niko scored a “Stagaire” contract with World Tour Team Argo –Shimano and in 2014 being eleventh he narrowly missed the top ten in the German professional championship.
Nikodemus Holler (Stuttgart) and Christoph Schweizer (Aachen) are the two strongest new German additions to the team. Daniel Bichlmann (Traunstein) and Yannick Meyer (Heilbronn) as well as Fabian Fritz (Frankfurt) who joined the team mid season in 2014 are still on board in 2015. Another new addition to the team is Joschka Beck (Frankfurt) who comes from the same Hessian U23 federal division team as Fabian Fritz and reached the nineth place in the Tobago Cycling Classics in the Carribean which was his first international success. Other German riders are Timo Schäfer (St. Wendel) and Matthias Schnapka (Blieskastel) who apart from their duties as riders also take care of the organization of the team. Also, Karsten Keunecke (Bergneustadt) remains part of the team. For the time being his priorities will be organizational duties and the team can benefit from the experiences he made on his various Africa journeys.
From Africa, Meron Mengstab (Eritrea) and Mekseb Debesay (Eritrea) stay with the team for yet another season. This was made possible by the successful collaboration between the cycling association of Eritrea and the African Cycling Center of the UCI in Johannesburg. Both successfully demonstrated their talent in the past years. Mekseb Debesay won the UCI Africa Tour and was elected African Cyclist of the year 2014. New to the team is Richard Laizer (Tanzania) who also participated in the trainee program of the African Cycling Center. Dan Craven supported Richard Laizer because he was convinced of his sportive talent as well as his strength of character. Talking about strong characters: we will continue to support Raouf Akanga (Togo) in 2015. In 2014 his Visa was declined because the authorities questioned his willingness to return to his home country and the general intentions of his Europe trip. One only has to look at his Facebook activities to understand what motivates Raouf. The 21 year old is practically the number one supporter and promoter of young cyclists in Togo. The passion and dedication with which he introduces children to cycling is quite unique. Supporting him should also be a matter of course for the authorities because his experiences in Europe will surely benefit his engagement in Togo as it is embodied development aid. We sincerely hope that the authorities will agree to his visit this time.
Apart from African riders, the international team will be strengthened by the latest additions to the team: The Dutch Maarten de Jonge and the young Canadian cyclists Kyle Buckosky and Jacob Schwin, both from Vancouver. The Canadians' goal is to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. For this reason they wish to contest one season in an international professional team to develop their skills adequately.
The main cadre thus consists of 14 riders, supplemented by Raouf Akanga and Karten Keunecke. Also the team behind the team is quite internationally set. These are the people for whom we are grateful because without them the team would stand still. The born Sicilian Maria Militello (St. Wendel), Désirée Schuler (Blieskastel) and Sylvie Janin (France) represent the female part of the team. The male counterpart is composed of Lutz Drehkopf (Schwalbach), Chris Dörle (Staufen im Breisgau) and Yves Beau (France).
The team being part of this great Mountainbike Community BIKE AID is thanks to board comprising of Eric Haus and Uwe Kuntz. It is due to their tireless engagement that the club can continually develop and apart from the sportive activities has collected 150.000 Euro in donations for charity projects. Also Malte Wulfinghoff (Münster) has to be mentioned as he accompanies the cyclist school in Burkina Faso and supports the racing team in Africa.
Overview riders: Michael Schweizer, Timo Schäfer, Daniel Bichlmann, Fabian Fritz, Joschka Beck, Yannick Mayer, Matthias Schnapka, Nikodemus Holler (all from Germany), Maarten de Jonge (Netherlands), Meron Mengstab, Meksab Debesay (both Eritrea), Richard Laizer (Tanzania), Jacob Schwingboth, Kyle Buckosky (both Canada). Additionally Karten Keunecke (Germany) and Raouf Akanga (Togo).
Overview Supervisors: Chris Dörle, Lutz Drehkopf, Désirée Schuler, Malte Wulfinghoff, Maria Militello, Yves Beau, Sylvie Janin
Board: Eric Haus and Uwe Kuntz