Although the Tour du Rwanda in the middle of November will be another highlight for BIKE AID, the preparations and plans for 2018 are already on. Roster, race schedule and pitches in front of sponsors – the main activities in the autumn months.
The end of the one season but at the same time is the beginning of a new one and the transition between them became more and more fluid.Where formerly long, dreary winter months with stupid "endurance rides" were the main actions, now has changed a lot. The last race day of the season will be on November 19 at the Tour du Rwanda and the 2018 season will start again in Gabon on January 15 at the "La Tropicale Amissa Bongo" (UCI 2.1).
2 months for riders and Staff to relax and prepare for the new tasks and goals.But this also means for the team management that all analyzes and plans have already to be completed and that the new squad for 2018 has to be set. So let’s take a look back on a season like 2017.
There were many innovations and changes at the beginning of the year. BIKE AID and the Kenyan Riders formed a strategic partnership and three riders from Kenya were integrated into the team."We could hardly have wished for anything better in retrospect. The guys are great and fit perfectly into our team structure. We can say that the integration was a complete success and the guys are a real enrichment for BIKE AID - not only sporty, but also human", explains Timo Schäfer (one of the responsibles).
"What is done in Kenya by Nicholas Leong, Simon Blake and Ciaran Fitzpatrick is unimaginable. Almost out of nowhere they developed a kind of performance center together with school equipment – just in African style", says Schäfer further.So it is not surprising that the Kenyans also played a major role in 2017 season to win 2 GC’s at stage races, a total of 8 UCI victories, 23 podiums and a further 53 Top - 10 results.
"If somebody would have predicted before the season, we would’nt have believed it. We have targetted a total of 10 victories, but also with 8 we can live very well - especially the stage races werewere incredible and the other results speak for themselves", says Schäfer.Above all, Nikodemus Holler has clearly underlined his role as captain and has made a great contribution to a "super-year" with an individually great season.
"Niko is not only an enormously important rider because of his results. He is accepted by all as a leader and fills this role great. He always is the best example of professionalism and all other guys follow him - Niko has an absolute leader mentality, "says Schäfer.What are the goals for the coming year and which squad will start in the new season?The roster will not change much. The team from Germany has set itself the goal to continue building up the current squad and to refine the much-discussed automatisms again.
"From the current team, almost all riders stay with us. Only four guys leave the team - for personal reasons" Schäfer runs out.
No longer in the team will be: Joschka Beck, who wants to go a bit shorter because of his studies and will change to a smaller Amateur team. Likewise, the American Timothy Rugg will go back to the USA and join the "Gravel scene".
The two Eritreans Amanuel Mengis and Awet Habtom will not be part of the team in 2018 either. "Awet has enormous talent. But talent alone is not enough. Here in Europe, riders have to be able to communicate at a certain level and also to understand what is said and applied to them. Only then we as a team can do our contribution that they can use their talent. Unfortunately, this was not the case with Awet and the step to Europe might have been a bit early for him", explains Timo Schäfer.
In addition to the captains Nikodemus Holler, Tino Thömel (both Germany) and Meron Teshome (Eritrea) following riders will stay with BIKE AID: Adne van Engelen (Netherlands), Patrick Lechner, Daniel Bichlmann, Timo Schäfer, Matthias Schnapka (all Germany), Suleiman Kangangi, Geoffrey Langat and Salim Kipkemboi (Kenya).
A total of three new riders will reinforce the team for 2018. "We are glad that we have just small changes in the squad and that the team remains practically complete. We have signed three new riders, which will strengthen us at the top. These will be announced in the coming days", Schäfer rounds up.