The Tour de Bretagne is one of the most prestigious continental level circuits in Europe, in the heart of one of the most cycling-mad regions. Our riders had to fight their way through six difficult days, but they did not give up and were rewarded today.
There is a reason why the Grand Depart of the Tour de France was held in Brittany this year and why there has been a major international race almost every weekend as well. No, it’s not the weather. A light drizzle at 13 degrees feels just pleasant to the Breton cyclist. Those who cycle a lot here are used to many things. But has not stopped the Bretons from developing an incredible enthusiasm for cycling. The black and white flag “Gwenn ha Du” can be seen everywhere where professional cycling takes place. It is the French equivalent to the Flemish lion.
Then there’s the Mûr-de-Bretagne, an unassuming climb, a country road which goes straight up steeply for a few hundred metres. There are significantly more picturesque roads in Brittany. But the climb is a legend in cycling, tens of thousands of spectators crowd the small stretch when the Tour de France goes along it, and many other races like to pass it too. A few weeks ago we were able to take part in the Kreiz Breizh tour in the native country of our team rider Julian Lino and were impressed by the enthusiasm of the spectators.
On the first stage our riders also had to pass the Mûr-de-Bretagne and there were many more small hills to follow. What makes the race so hard are the small roads and constant ups and downs. On average the stages each rise around 2,500 vertical metres. Each stage is ridden like a classic, offensively from start to finish. For 5 stages our riders tried to find a way to finish a stage with a good result, but the competition was too strong. The race holds particular significance for the French teams. This is the only way to explain why there are two Tour de France teams at the start with Arkea and B&B Hotels, even though the race is only classified in the lowest UCI category.
Yesterday’s 217km stage was another feat of strength, which ended at just under 45km/h. Surely many riders would have been looking forward to some rest today. Perhaps this was the decisive factor for Justin Wolf.
60 km before the finish he broke up a breakaway group and went into time trial mode. As with his victory in the Belgrade Banjaluka long-distance race, some teams used up their energy in the chase and simply couldn’t get any closer. The French commentators were beside themselves and kept drawing comparisons to Tony Martin, who has just finished his career. Of course, we don’t want to compare Justin with Tony Martin. But the fact that he reached the finish line after 60km of solo riding and thus took the first professional victory in France for BIKE AID is something we can be very proud of.
This article was submitted by: BIKE AID