Pascal Eenkhoorn (Jumbo Visma) didn’t win stage 7 of the Tour of Britain on Saturday but he was considered the hero of the day after passing bidon to a young fan who had cycled alongside the breakaway.
The five-rider attack was in the final kilometres of the stage to Edinburgh when the young fan was seen riding furiously along the footpath. He managed to accelerate ahead of the riders, with the television helicopter capturing his moment. Then, as he tired, Eenkhoorn moved across the road and carefully offered him a bidon. The boy, again showing his bike skills, reached out and took it, while holding his balance.
The boy was later identified as Xander Graham from Edinburgh and was invited along with his parents to Sunday’s final stage of the Tour of Britain as a special guest. Before the start he met Mark Cavendish, Eenkhoorn, and other riders.
Eenkhoorn presented Graham with a Jumbo-Visma jersey and musette, and invited him to join them on the pre-race podium to be presented to the crowd.
“It was amazing to be up close so I really enjoyed it,” said Xander Graham. “I’ve got a lot of messages on social media and a lot of reposts on people’s stories as well.”
His father Martin said “It’s been an incredible response from Pascal and with Xander riding alongside them yesterday. It’s Xander’s dream to be a professional cyclist but to be actually riding in the Tour in his hometown was just a really spectacular moment for us all.”
According to social media, Graham won the silver medal in the British U12 National Criterium Series in the morning and then rode his bike again to see the Tour of Britain.
There has been debate and argument about throwing bidons to spectators after the UCI banned it for safety reasons.
However, Eenkhoorn’s gesture was seen as a sign of love for the sport and inspiration for future generations.
The moment captured the hearts of television viewers, commentators, and many in the sport. It was photographed by Alex Whitehead of the SXpix photo agency.
“That is what cycling is all about, absolutely superb, I’m a bit choked up,” Eurosport and GCN commentator Matt Stephens said.
Eenkhoorn was dropped from the break in the final kilometers with Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) winning the stage but Eenkhoorn was considered the hero of the day.
The real race we're here for!Nicely done, @PascalEenkhoorn 🙌 📺 Watch stage seven live on ITV4#TourOfBritain 🔵⚪🔵 pic.twitter.com/C4G646nZ5ISeptember 11, 2021
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.