The first edition of this race started in 1908 and since then the riders found the finish year by year in the city of Cologne, one of the biggest cities in Germany with a huge history and tradition. The history of Cologne goes far back to the Romans who named it “Colonia” and it was one of the major cities at those times in the Roman empire. Lot of battles and war between Romans and Germans took place – a big history that marked whole Europe. Now, more than 2000 years later on a cloudy Sunday morning, there was another battle that took place. But this time on a different kind of battlefield with a different kind of knights using modern kind of swords to fight. Horses that has two wheels were ridden through the hilly landscape around the city of cologne.
A battlefield with a total distance of 205 Kilometers was ahead of the “black knights” from Stradalli – BIKE AID team. Their mission: conquer the empire of the “dark Lord” André Greipel from the Lotto – Soudal kingdom.
Well, maybe the text would have been like this couple hundred years ago. Today it is more like: Continental Teams trying to present themselves among the Top riders of the World. For sure it is a fight with very different weapons, but still it is worth to fight this fight again and again. Among the best riders were names like: André Greipel (Lotto – Soudal), Taylor Phinney (BMC), Nikias Arndt (Giant – Alpecin) or Sep Vanmarcke (Lotto – Jumbo NL). And what was the plan of the guys from Stradalli – BIKE AID? Well, to put a tiny guy from Eritrea in the middle of the sprint. So far so good. Meron Amanuel, a very fast guy has to sprint against the best of the world. And all other riders would have to protect him and keep him out of all the wind and trouble that can happen during such a long race.
All the plan went well, until 30 kilometers to the finish line, when Meron’s backwheel punctured in a very bad moment. All efforts for less? All suffering for nothing? No, we still had Niko to make a result. And the small climber made it with his 55 kilos to the top 20 again. Among all those sprinters. But he is a very smart guy who knows perfectly to keep position and that led to 17th place at the end.
A great race, a nice day and an awesome city! Thanks a lot Cologne and see you next year!