Small team - big event
It was the World Championships. The one and only official UCI Road World Championships, held in Doha, Qatar, where every year the fight for the famous rainbow-jersey takes part. This unique and wonderful jersey that stands for the best rider in the world.
Among this spectacle it was again a „small squad“ from Germany in the middle that already surprised a lot during the past 3 years in the world of procycling. Also this time, as not any single person estimated Stradalli – BIKE AID participating at this year's Worlds. But also no one from the team itself was even dream of that can happen. The excitment was on the edge already before going to Doha, only by receiving the permission to start there as a UCI continental team.
But how should all this now getting realized again, after having already so many races in the books, all over the world and just coming back from Tour of China only 5 days before leaving to Qatar again?
Organisation - the big challenge
While other competing teams from the World Tour (highest category in world's cycling, buget about 10 to 30 million Euro), employ about 60 staff members around the riders, for a small team like Stradalli – BIKE AID such an event means mostly: stress, sleepless nights, hedache and nightshifts to prepare all needed stuff to go to such an event.
Everyone who ever went on holiday with his family knows what it is all about and what things has to be taken into consideration to avoid chaos. But to move a whole team is so much more and demands so much from the involved person to make all this happen: preparing all TT bikes, wheels, discs, tires, packing all tolls (you travel with almost whole repair center), visa formalities, flight bookings, accomodation etc. etc.
The whole delegation of Stradalli – BIKE AID was about 10 people, but also this was at the lower limit compared to teams like SKY who had actually more Staff as the whole delegation of
Stradalli – BIKE AID.
Meron Teshome should stay home - not with us!
And every time again there are things happening you can not take into consideration but they turn an easy travel day into an emotional rollercoaster and an unfrogettable event. Even more when you have riders from Africa in your team you must expect everything as the authorities very often make things not so easy.
This time it was Meron Teshome who stood without any bad feelings at the check in counter, presenting his passport, baggage already tagged and transferred but then: „Stop! Your Visa for Qatar“, the lady mentioned. After lot of explanations that he is going to the UCI World Championships and the Visa is already issued and waiting at Qatar Airport (same like for everyone else) there was just an indifferent: „no way. You stay here, you can take your baggage in one hour there and there“.
Meron had tears in his eyes as it was his first Wolrds in Elite so far and a dream that came true after a season he really worked hard and deserved it. Leaving Meron behind? No way.
Smartphone - the most important tool!
After lots of phone calls with the local authorities in Qatar, they sent a confirmation and a copy of the isuued visa by messenger to the smartphone. Filled with hope, the boys went to the counter, presenting the Visa and that everything is as it has to be. „No, we need it printed!“ (what is the difference?) After another challenge, to print the message and Visa out and another presentation at the desk, the quality of the print was not sufficient. Now they wanted to have a new document officially sent to their email address. Did they really do all to avoid Meron's travel? Sometimes things are not logic and fair, but one for sure: not human!
After again many phonecalls the queue at the desk got smaller and smaller and the time to the departure also. The hope that Meron will join us got smaller in the same way. But all of a sudden and after several discussions they received the email from Qatar and accepted the Visa. Meron was in!
The heat is on!
When the guys arrived in Qatar, one thing was already clear: it will be hot the upcoming days. Even more than expected and the humidity was still very high even in the night. 42 Celcius was the temperature next day when the guys went out for ride and they could start to imagine how it should be at the race.
But everybody was highly motivated and worked so hard to make this come true, now they wanted to face all these challenges. But in the race it came a little different and the expected performance could not being delivered by the riders.
taking part is most important thing
17th place at the end – from 17. What sounds very terrible in the beginnging changes into something different at the 2nd view. It changes more into joy, as dissapointment.
Joy, being part of the World Championships, as there are more than 200 professional teams worldwide.
Joy, about the unique opportunity to challenge the best teams in the World, woth teams like SKY, BMC ore Etixx-Quickstep who have so much more budget available as the „small German team“.
But also joy, that the social background of the team was again in the fous of the press and the team could tell again a different story about how it is possible to change something (article in the Gulftimes)
Most important thing is taking part – this time more than ever, because despite all ambitions and sacrifices the boys did throughout this year and all the good results the team earned in 2016 season – to be at the start of the World Championships is not an everyday thing!
- Sean Rowe
- Graham Watson