One could not have imagined worse omens for a four-day race. On the way back from the last training ride, GC rider Jesse Ewart collided head-on with a car. Covered in blood and with open wounds all over his body, the Irishman lay on the ground. The sight horrified the BIKE AID riders and Jesse was so shocked that he didn't really knew what was happening. The ambulance took him straight to the emergency room. After the first examinations one could breathe a sigh of relief. No fracture, no concussion, they said. Nevertheless, Jesse was in extreme pain and had memory loss, so he couldn't remember the accident. After a long evening in hospital, the team finally headed for the hotel. They had to somehow refocus on the race the next day, which had been completely pushed into the background.
Once they arrived at the prologue, the boys' racing mentality was noticeable. Despite the terrible previous day, they only had one thing on their minds on the start ramp of the 2.3 kilometre course: three minutes all out!
Julian Lino had problems with his chain at the start and lost a few valuable seconds straight away. Sebastian Niehues was the fastest BIKE AID rider and showed his power once again.
207 kilometres, 3500 metres of elevation and a climb of almost 20 kilometres. On paper a tough stage, made even tougher by extreme weather conditions. However, the team from Saarland did a good job. Julian Lino crossed the finish line in the first group with the same time as the stage winner.
On the following day, the famous mountain finish at Balea Lac was on the agenda. A climb of the HC category with a length of 22.5 kilometres and a gradient of 6.1%. A quiet race picked up speed at the foot of the mountain. The World Tour teams did everything they could to win the race here. Only Adne van Engelen and Julian Lino managed to keep up with the pace. In the last kilometre Julian accelerated once more and finished the stage strongly in the top 25!
On the last day of the Sibiu Cycling Tour, the riders were faced with two stages. In the morning it was an uphill individual time trial. To finish, there was a 98 kilometre hilly stage in the early evening. Adne van Engelen just missed the top 10 in the individual time trial with a strong performance and a good time! Julian Lino followed up on the good performances of the previous days.
In the evening, things got hectic. A fast start that not even the big teams could follow. The breakaway was able to pull away quickly and decided the race for themselves. Wesley Mol and Sebastian Niehues sacrificed themselves for Adne and Julian, who both still had hopes for the top 20 in the general classification. However, with a race time of just over two hours, it was extremely difficult to gain a time advantage. As a result, Julian finished in 21st place and Adne in 28th overall. Considering the horror start and the level of competition, not a bad result!
Team BIKE AID is now facing a three-week break. The busy race calendar of the last few weeks was a real test of endurance for riders and everyone involved in the team and left its mark. Now it's time to recharge the batteries until the start of the 27th edition of the Kreiz Breizh Elites on July 29th!
Pictures by Tibi Hila and Focus Photo Agency