Every May, the Tour de Berne starts and finishes in Lyss. You might even call the race the “unofficial DT Swiss Championships,” since it has long been an unmissable event in many DT Swiss employees’ plans for the season. Our intern Dominik experienced it for the first time this year. Here is his first-hand account.
Once again this year, the Tour de Berne got off to a start and finished up in Lyss. And once again, DT Swiss employees got to sign up for the race for free. Sixteen DT Swiss employees took up the challenge, determined to conquer one of the three courses offered. All three courses followed the same course, which included the dreaded Frienisberg. The Race 1 course was 34 km long with a vertical distance of 420 m. Race 2 riders had to complete the course twice, and Race 3 riders three times.
First up was an obligatory group photo with all the DT Swiss starters. Despite various last-minute delays – all probably quite typical before the start of a race – eleven cycling-mad DT Swiss employees made it to the photo in time. A great achievement!
After the photo, it was time for our final preparations. Everyone was clearly dealing with normal pre-race nerves. Riders mounted their race chips not only on bike frames, but also on spokes. Some thought the race’s start time was half an hour later than it actually was and arrived at the very last minute – and some noticed just seconds before the start that their front brake calipers were loose. Yet all participating DT Swiss employees made the starting line on time.
THE RACE FROM MY POINT OF VIEW
I took on the challenge of Race 3 along with my colleagues Jan Oelerich, Paul Schuler and Michael Riehle. My goal was to just keep up with the leading pack as long as I could. To do this, I tried to stay on Jan’s back wheel. But my plan was doomed, as Jan – a former racer – is a master of maintaining his position in a large group, and I’m not. I lost my place on his back wheel right away and was too far back by the time we first hit Frienisberg, which meant I had to close the first small gap afterwards.
At the beginning of the long descent, I found myself at the back of the leading peloton. Thanks to my brand-new ARC 1100 DICUT 62 wheels, I glided down with ease and was quickly able to fight my way back to the front pack. On approach to the second ascent of Frienisberg, the fight for the top positions began again. Again, I fell too far back in the field. So by the time I got to the summit, there was a 50 m gap between me and the last man in the front pack. That was when I made a huge mistake. I tried at all costs to close the gap to the leading peloton with two other riders. Over 15 km I burned all the energy I had left – but we never did end up closing the gap. Completely drained, I was caught by the closing group catching up. Then I was able to use the slipstream to make it to the front one final time before the third ascent at Frienisberg. I’d just managed to catch up with Jan and Paul when I completely ran out of steam and immediately lost them again. This time there was no coming back. I hit the wall and couldn’t make any progress uphill. The worst thing was, I was all on my own. I slowly trudged along. Every little bump felt like Mount Everest. Only about 5 km before the finish did I catch up with another group that had been lagging behind. Together with them, I ultimately dragged myself over the finish line, nine minutes behind the winner. Jens Voigt once said, “Riding at the back hurts just as much as riding at the front.” After my experience, I believe that riding at the back of a race hurts most of all. In the end, I came in 66th place – ultimately not so bad.
HOW MY COLLEAGUES RANKED
Luckily, other DT Swiss riders finished with some outstanding results. Jan Oelerich was the best ranked with 9th place in the overall standings for Race 3. He finished in the leading group, which completed the course (102 km long and 1200 m vertical distance) with an incredible average speed of 40 km/h. Michael Riehle also made the top ten for his age category, taking 7th place in the Senior 3 category for Race 3.
In Race 2, Sandra Bösiger finished fantastically in 4th place among the women. This was a terrific achievement and was down to Sandra’s superb form. She also had the world-class support of her husband. The top rider among men in Race 2 was Tino Selent in 46th place.
Remo Heutschi once again proved his class in Race 1 and finished strong in 5th place. He missed the winners’ podium by a mere 0.02 seconds. Keep on training, Remo – victory beckons next year.
Yet most important of all was that all DT Swiss employees successfully finished the race without any crash injuries.
Even though it was a tough race that demanded everything I had, it was a great accomplishment that I’ll always remember fondly. The best part? Sipping a beer with the DT Swiss team after crossing the finish line. Unfortunately, I still don’t know who to thank for buying the round. Thanks to whoever it was – what better way to start the recovery process!
I hope to see you next year!