By Björn Haake
Björn Thurau stood at the finish of the first part of the third stage in De Panne. With the resemblance to his famous father, Dietrich, the Elk Haus-Simplon rider was quickly recognised. "Didi, Didi!" the spectators shouted. He didn't mind that. "I am proud of it. My father has lots of supporters here in Belgium. It's a recognition of his accomplishments. It's great!"
The 19 year-old is still learning the ropes. "Sure, I am getting suggestions from the other, more experienced riders on the team," Thurau told Cyclingnews. But he recognised that theory is different than practice. "You can get as many advice as you want, but you will have to make your own experiences." Which, in Belgium, includes knowing positioning in the wind. "Today, I got dropped from one of the echelons that form here in the cross wind. It's so hard. It may only be five metres, but it is enough to lose the contact completely."
A bit disappointed about not being able to make it into De Panne with the main group, he also didn't make the cut of the 120 riders who were allowed into the second part of the split final stage, time trial. "Ah, I would have liked to ride the time trial. Oh well," he shrugged. He is hopeful races like this will help his development as a rider. "I want to learn, learn, learn," but with the German U23 championships he also has an ambitious goal for the early summer on the horizon.
The positive aspect of the racing was that he didn't crash. "It's certainly dangerous here in Belgium. You have the wind, the parked cars, the nervous racing," Thurau echoed the sentiments of other racers. Some teams don't even show up for those events, because of a fear of crashing, but smaller teams like Elk Haus-Simplon will gladly accept the invite. Their problems are on a different level anyway. Thurau and his team-mates were riding around the finishing area, looking for the showers. Eventually they were told there aren't any. Those are some of the challenges the smaller teams face.