After the Tour of Antalya in February, the team went to the beautiful country on the Mediterranean Sea for the second time this season. It was the first time that the team had the opportunity to take part in the prestigious Tour of Turkey, with names like Caleb Ewan, Sam Bennet and Nairo Quintana. As a continental team, you don't get such a chance every day. So it is all the more important to take advantage of it and show what a comparably small team from Saarland can do!
With daily live broadcasts from Eurosport and coverage in the major sports media, a good result can generate significant attention. What more could a continental team want?
Straight away on the first stage, the team put itself in the spotlight. Halil Dogan and five other riders rode almost 130 kilometers in the breakaway group of the day and thus put a first exclamation mark.
This scenario recurred on the second day. Here it was Julian Lino who worked the whole day in the breakaway in front of the peloton until 25 kilometers before the finish and presented the team again in a great way.
And since all good things are known to come in threes, BIKE AID also had a rider in the breakaway group on the third stage with Léo Bouvier. Although they were caught up shortly before the finish, Léo managed to activate his last reserves of energy once again to finish in 11th place in the bunch sprint. Physically and mentally an extremely strong performance of the young Frenchman!
The fourth and only stage with a mountaintop finish from Izmir to Manisa covered 146 kilometers. The otherwise quiet day ended in an epic fight between the best climbers on the final 14-kilometer climb. Among those riders were Adne van Engelen and Dawit Yemane, who have proven their skills on the mountain a number of times.
A group of 13 riders quickly formed, setting an incredible pace on the climb. The two riders from BIKE AID not only in the mix, but fully involved!
It was also extremely remarkable that the team from Saarland, besides Arkea Samsic, was the only one with more than one rider in the first group.
Alongside Jay Vine and Quintana, it was going uphill meter by meter and the group continued to thin out. The decisive and race-winning attack was followed by Adne all alone and it seemed that the 'Flying Dutchman' would not be caught anymore. However, the thriller on the mountain was not over yet. With 1.7 kilometers to go, Dawit Yemane came roaring up with six other riders and Adne's chance for a spectacular second place vanished. Nevertheless, it was an extremely strong performance by the Dutchman, which was ultimately crowned with ninth place!
The Eritrean ended up in a fabulous sixth place, once again underlining his extremely good shape and, like Adne, absolute competitiveness with the world's best climbers! Furthermore, Dawit secured seventh place in the general classification on this stage and once again made headlines for the Eritrean cycling sport that has just been so successful.
Certainly this stage is one of the best team performances of BIKE AID and that it was one of the best performances of a German continental team on this level is also not unlikely!
After four energy-draining but very rewarding stages, it was now a matter of securing Dawit's top 10 rank. In addition, the team was now second in the team classification, only 40 seconds behind the leaders.
Every day they continued to sacrifice themselves for each other, helping where they could and protecting Dawit well. Despite multiple crashes, no rider had to leave the race early. The team's morale certainly a crucial factor in this. The gap in the team standings narrowed and before the final stage only 21 seconds separated them from taking the win. A feasible task, one would think.
However, the last stage was marked by very bad weather, which caused crashes already in the first kilometers. And then, after only 32 kilometers, the race director announced that the stage would be cancelled. An intelligible decision. Extremely skiddy roads made the race a slippery slope. The safety of the riders was simply no longer given.
BIKE AID was deprived of the chance to win the team classification, but none of the riders could complain after this great performance in Turkey. A seventh place in the general classification for Dawit Yemane and the second place in the team classification show which class and potential the riders have!
On Monday the team starts at the seven-day Tour de Bretagne. After Justin Wolf's 60 kilometer solo victory last year, the riders are looking forward to participate in this race again!
Pictures by Goshots and Yücel Cakiroglu