The Tour of Antalya has now been held for the third time and since the beginning BIKE AID has been at the start of this race, in the middle of one of the most popular holiday destinations for Germans. But this time everything was different.
There was already a lot of excitement before the race, when a new partnership with a strong Airline from Turkey had been concluded. Corendon Airlines is based in Antalya and has been one of the main sponsors of a Dutch Pro-Continental team around the shooting star of the cycling scene Mathieu van der Poel in recent years.
Carried by this euphoria, the team set off for the Turkish Riviera and it all started with a press conference,which amazed the BIKE AID guys: “After setting the course for the partnership with Corendon, we had the idea to hold a press conference together in Antalya and to announce our partnership there ”, reveals team manager Timo Schäfer. “But what then happened there in terms of media interest not only leaves me speechless, but also the riders. A total of 65 journalists and 12 live cameras from television stations and Internet portals came together - it's good that with the German consul Wolfgang Wessel we were able to offer the whole happening a suitable framework from our part, ”continued Timo Schäfer.
After the announcement of the partnership, the race started. A race, which is increasingly becoming a real big event and meanwhile top European teams are gathering and athletes are fighting for results and UCI points at the highest level. By the way, the organizers put everything on the table the Turkish Riviera has to offer - in addition to small hills and narrow and picturesque roads, there are also rock-hard mountains and long climbs of up to 10 kilometers in the beautiful and partly snow-covered Antalya's rural area. A mix that the team is well prepared for with sprinters and climbers.
Lucas sprints to 8th place on day 1 after great team-work, but he is not entirely satisfied: "We did a great job and Erik Bergström dropped us in positions 1 and 2 at 800m before the finish line, unfortunately one man was still missing, we are still working on our timing“.
Then the days of the Viking came. Erik Bergström, a 20-year-old guy from Stockholm who only needs few words to say what he has to say: "We talk later", his statement when he relieved himself in the final of stage 2 after the mountains and pedaled back into the field next to the car with calmness and no expression in the face - everything in the pouring rain. It was just about the daily and overall classification but that's how he is the old Swede - he prefers to save energy for action rather than words and so he delivered again the next day. 12th place at the mountain top finish, which he believes was “not difficult enough” to make a decisive difference. It was just 10 kilometers with a 6 percent gradient, but ok, that’s him - the Swede.
Now it was time to round the good week up. Last day, making another good plan. All for one. Get everything out again and start the sprint for Lucas, completing what looked so promising three days ago. And then there was the moment, the sprint. Man against man and Lucas sprints on the podium. Only beaten by the national champion from Belgium Tim Merlier and the Italian Filippo Fortin. “The team did a great job again. You can tell we're growing together and it's a lot of fun. Third place gives confidence, but there is more possible, ”said Lucas Carstensen after the finish. For the third year in a row, Lucas Carstensen delivered the first podium of the season for a German continental rider at a UCI race.
It is also great that Aaron Grosser came back impressively after an injury break of 8 months. He always delivered Lucas well in the sprint and even finished 9th on the last day.
Many thanks to the organizers of the Tour of Antalya, who have established an absolutely great tour here that deserves to be offered such a great competition. See you next year - we will be happy to come back!
Photo Credits: Berek Mercanci, Steve Thomas, Brian Black, Goshots