Light & Shadow
The Tour de France is the most famous cycling race in the world. “Le Tour” puts everything in the shade – even other races like the Sibiu Cycling Tour. How does a multi-day race feel in the shadow of the Tour? A photo feature by the Maloja Pushbikers.
the Maloja Pushbikers
In the shadow of the Tour de France, a tour takes place in Romania at the beginning of July, many kilometres away from the routes and media hype of “La Tour”, but with tradition, ambition and a top-class field of participants, including six World Tour teams: the Sibiu Cycling Tour. A look at the start list shows: Bora-hansgrohe, Jumbo Visma, Lotto Soudal, Cofidis, the Development Team of EF Education-Nippo. Almost 500 race kilometres, four days and five stages, on the last day the stage is split into two parts, as is often the case in Eastern Europe.
The Consulate of the Federal Republic of Germany is a partner of the race, as is the German-language weekly newspaper Hermannstädter Zeitung. Thus a connection to the history of Sibiu in cycling as well. A total of seven German-speaking teams are registered, including the Pushbikers for the second time this year.
The setting of the prologue feels like a step into history right at the beginning: the Astra Museum of Traditional Folk Culture. An impressive place outside the big city, where history is collected through traditional farmsteads, historic wooden churches, blacksmith’s shops, winegrowers’ houses, wayside crosses and a wooden Ferris wheel. When, in the silence of the museum, more than 120 racers pass by among the trees and buildings, chasing time, the Sibiu Cycling Tour gives you goose bumps. Even if it’s not the grand Tour de France.
“Sibiu Cycling Tour was extreme in many respects.
Tough mountains, hot weather, strong field of riders.
Incredible scenery and 1,200 km away from home.”
“We knew about the value of this race – in terms of the starting field and the profile. And there was already some tension before the start. Because we didn’t want to hide, but to draw attention to ourselves with pinpricks. For us, pursuing common goals meant achieving top 10 finishes if possible.
Four days, five stages. Each time suffering all the way to our team camper.”
“The “push, push, push” calls over the radio are a sign of our cohesion. When I was attacking, I thought to myself: “I really just have to pedal”, and my team colleagues take care of the rest. No looking back and no nervousness due to the certainty that if someone comes from behind or I miss something, they will let me know.”
It was – quite clearly – an eventful, tough road cycling trip for all Pushbikers involved. Even if the previously defined goals could not be completely fulfilled, there are clear highlights that speak for the development of the Pushbikers. Also in direct comparison to the result of the Tour of Sibiu in 2021.
Max Benz-Kuch finished 9th in the overall U23 classification. Filippo Fortin sprinted to 11th place in a hard-fought final stage after the peloton had misjudged and the small breakaway group at the front was not caught – there would have been room for improvement. In the queen stage with a mountain finish in the Carpathians at an altitude of over 2,000 metres, our Australian Alex Evans finished 18th and was able to keep up with the leaders until five kilometres before Balea Lac. Patrick Reissig finished 22nd in the first stage.
At the end of the Sibiu tour, it becomes clear that light also has something to do with luck, and that shadow is something you learn from. But the goosebump feeling remains when we look at the pictures of these days at the beginning of July. That suffering can be passionate, that cycling has a lot to do with agony, and that you still want to get back on your bike every time. For us it is: the most beautiful sport in the world.