What happened in the last episode?
We relive 2001. The second week of September. The USA suffers one huge attack on its major cities; on the other side of the globe the southern city of Hertogenbosch hosts the start of the Ster Elektro Toer. This five day stage race takes the riders via Valkenburg and timetrail to a finishline on Sunday in Schijndel. One of the teams competing is Division II cyclingteam sponsored by Dutch lottery Bankgiro, a lucky bird very much present on their jerseys. A lucky bird helping competitors to win the lottery of the Bankgiroloterij. The riders of this team manage to win four out of six stages but lose the overall win to French Xavier Jan, that much for the luck of these birds.
Take two, the revenge.
Rain, grey skies, different riders, different teams, same teams, same actors. Amongst some in Rabojersey, some zebras wandered out of Italy, some Polish guys with legs like concrete, some lucky birds flock together. A grey bus with several seats host as the birdcage, the subjects themselves choose free are and humm along. The "Chief Bird" in charge and founder of the team, Arend Scheppink, is present to guard his pets. "CoachBird" Johan Capiot sends some positive talks to his riders. Where other teams see their riders everywhere but near their teamcar, the ones from Bankgiro look like glued together. Glued together as one, without losing their own identity. The sight shows Bart Voskamp (the Bird who is most likely to finish best in the overall classification), "HelpingBirds" Bert Hiemstra, Gerben Löwik, Rudie Kemna (SprintingBird), Bram Schmitz (a Bird with a good feeling for the Dutch Hills), Jan van Velzen (a bit injured but still very helpful Bird), Remco van der Ven (a recently back in business Bird after a severe concussion in Belgium) and Rik Reinerink (Big Bold Brutus Bird).
The main players in the game, the lucky birds to know:
Bart Voskamp; 6 th June 1968
wins: 1996 critt Boxmeer,
1996 stage Tour de France, 1996: Profronde Friesland – Surhuisterveen, 1997: critt Mijl van Mares, 1998: critt Profronde van Stiphout,
1999: national championship time trail, 1999: critt Oostvoorne, 2001: national championships timetrail, 2001: Henk Vos Memorial, Groningen, 2001: 4th stage Ster Elektro Toer, 2001: 2nd stage Circuit Franco-Belge, 2002: 2b stage Tour of Belgium, 2002: overall classification Tour of Belgium, 2002: 4th stage Tour de Luxembourg, 2002: critt Oostvoorne.
Bert Hiemstra; 9th August 1973
wins: 2001: 5th stage Ster Elektro Toer, 2001: GP Wielerrevue.
Gerben Löwik; 29th June 1977
Rudie Kemna ; 5th October 1967
wins: 1996: City Night Rhede, 1997 stage Teleflex Tour, 1997 Ronde van Overijssel, 1997 Omloop der Kempen, 1997 2 stages Sachsen Tour,
1997 GP. Wieler Revue, 1999 Dokkum Woudenomloop, 1999 2th stage Teleflex Tour,
1999 Ronde van Zuid Friesland, 1999 critt Hurth-Gluel, 1999 4th stage Olympias Tour,
1999 critt Stadlohn, 1999 critt Oldenzaal, 1999 Euregio cup, 1999 stage Tour of Holland,
1999 critt Dortmund, 1999 critt Aalsmeer, 2000 critt Rund um Straelen, 2000 critt Huerth-Gluel, 2000 stage Olympia Tour, 2000 critt Dortmund-Hombruch, 2000 critt Stadtlohn, 2000 Euregio Cup, 2000 critt Mönchengladbach-Rheydt, 2001 GP Midtbank,
2001 6th stage Ster Elektro Toer, 2002 Ronde van Noordholland, 2002 Ronde van Drenthe, 2002: GP Midtbank.
Bram Schmitz; 23rd April 1977
Jan van Velzen; 7th December 1975
wins: 2000: Olympias Tour overall classification,
2001: stage in Llorett de Mar, 2001: Zwevegem
Remco van der Ven; 24th June 1975
1997 Olympias Tour overall classification
1998 Ronde van Drenthe, 2001: Tour de St. Quentin.
Rik Reinerink; 22th May 1973
Johan Capiot; teamleader
Arend Scheppink; manager
Maarten Reussink; mecanic
Piet Hoekstra, assistant teamleader/mechanic/all and a lot do-er
Luc Schiemscky; soigneur
Willy Wissink; soigneur
First part of the flight
The birds seem eager to fly out of the first town in this Ster Elektro Toer, the southern city of Eindhoven. We catch them at the feedzone, where soigneurs Willy and Luc prepare a real treat for their riders. Arriving early at the ravitaillement both of the caretakers have enough time to do some shopping and load the teamcar full of what to ordinary people look like candy? Turns out a winegum is full of gelatine which is very good for one. While preparing the food in the bags which will be handed over to the fastly flying-by racingbirds, the Belgian and Dutchman find time to blabber a lot, a habit apparently a criteria to be part of this team.
A race within the race is to compete and hoping to beat the other Dutch team Rabobank. The tension between the two major representants of cloggy cycling is fed by the lack of attention the Bankgiroloterij-team gets in the press. Even though they too do get some good results Dutch journalist merely seem to focus on orange and blue. At this Ster Elektro Toer too the main broadcaster in the Netherlands puts the camera-eye mostly on Dutch stage winner in the Tour de France Michael Boogerd.
When riders pass by, in the front amongst others Bart Voskamp and Gerben Löwik represent the red, blue yellow and black colours of Bankgiro. They are joined by Michael Boogerd and Bobbie Traksel. The bunch is controlled by the teammates of those present in the breakaway, the gap keeps on increasing when the riders wrestle themselves to the tops of the Zevenheuvelenweg (seven hills road). The ones in the front reach the last lap in Boxmeer, a town famous for its critt the day after the Tour de France finishes in Paris, with a lead of over ten minutes. Orange blue Traksel takes home his third win of the season, but the yellow leader's jersey ends up on the shoulders of former orange and blue Gerben Löwik. This bird outsmarted the others during the trip to Boxmeer, crosses bonussprintlines before the others do and gains enough bonusseconds to may start the next day as leader in the overall standings. Löwik grabs the cellphone and proudly tells his homefront they tomorrow have to look out for one rider in yellow. On the podium the Löwik smiles his head off when he receives the three kisses coming with the leaders tricot. Johan Capiot later on recollects his birds, they sit happily together in the BirdsBus and cruise the highway on their way back to their hotel near the departure-city that same day.