It could have been Aaron's big day, another step in his most successful season so far. At the same time as the winner, Aaron finished second in the 2.1 Belgrade Banjaluka in the GC, celebrated his first UCI victory at the Tour of Mersin in Turkey and last time claimed three top ten finishes in the Tour of Hungary.
But the challenge this week offers another format. The Route d'Occitanie is considered a preparation race for the Tour de France, the best teams in the world test their riders on the passes of the Pyrenees. Teams like Ineos (formerly Sky), AG2R, Movistar and FDJ, plus all French Pro Continental teams of the Tour de France set the tone. Anyone who can set himself in this field as a continental rider, must really have something on it.
On the first stage, Alejandro Valverde crossed the finish line first, after BIKE AID rider Nikodemus Holler coined the race for a long time in an breakaway and won all intermediate sprints there.
There should be a chance for Sprinter today. But the "flat" stage also included around 2,000 altitude meters. Aaron Grosser was supported throughout the race by his squad, for the last 20km Mekseb Debesay kept him in the front row so that the BIKE AID jersey could be seen on the TV screens next to the best team in the world.
The finale culminated in the Flame Rouge in a tight, winding town crossing, before heading for the slightly wider finish straight. Aaron was in a perfect position, shooting into the decisive chicane at position 7, and was about to open his sprint as he slipped the bike in a slanted position and crashed into a metal post.
He was in touch with the eventual winner Arnaud Démare, had every chance of a podium finish. Now it's time to hospital, surgery and a longer break. We wish Aaron a speedy recovery and that he can take something positive out of the unwanted break. Aaron has denied a very tight race calendar in the first half of the season, was constantly on the move. As hard as that is, the accident also means a break from racing stress and the ability to give the body and the psyche a lot of rest.
We are sure that Aaron will come back just as strong.