Fate has broken her wings, angel wings, on a wet road in southern Poland. It was August 5, 2019, in the vicinity of Rybnik. It was already a year ago. This Wednesday at the start of the 77th Tour of Poland, the memory of the young Flandrian (he was only 22 years old) will be significant. On the faces of his Team Lotto-Soudal teammates, the mask imposed by the pandemic will not be able to hide the emotion, especially during this minute of silence observed before the flight of a peloton in which the bib 143 – the one that ‘he had stapled on the day of the drama – will never be worn again.
“But we do not need to come back to Polish soil to remember Bjorg, he is present by our side every day”: in his clean and precise style, Tim Wellens recalls the unwavering bond that unites the young climber from Knesselare and the team he grew up on. “I had seen him arrive at the pros, from the U23 core. His performances on the 2019 Ardennes classics (Editor’s note: 5th in the Flèche Brabançonne, 6th in the Amstel Gold Race, 4th in the Flèche Wallonne), just a few weeks before the unthinkable happened, expressed all the potential that was in him … ”
Living in the present
The thread of a more completely the same everyday life has continued to unravel since then, cycling is somehow reborn to life. In Poland, the UCI protocols will be backed up by measures imposed by local authorities (no press for example), in order to limit an epidemic rebound that resembles that of Belgium.
In the ranks of the Lotto team, each one tries with his own codes to cross the memory of the tragedy which took away Bjorg, without necessarily having recourse to the exchanges with a mental coach as was the case in the wake of the accident. “We are grateful that the classification of young people (under 25) now bears his name” specifies Tim Wellens, former stage winner and of the final classification of the event (2016).
Shared ambition seems to be the most effective remedy for spleen. Tim Wellens, Thomas De Gendt or John Degenkolb thus have the firm intention of chasing dark ideas… “The season will be very short, limited to three short months” recalls the first of them. “There is no preparation race, even if personally, the Tour de Lombardie (August 15) and the Tour de France (August 29 / September 20) are already omnipresent in a corner of the mind. But this year more than ever, all the events are objectives in their own right. »Life in the present, with force.