If Wednesday’s opening day of the UCI Track Cycling Championships could be summed up in an emoji, it would be heart-hands. Germany’s women’s team pursuiters noticed that a relatively new team from Nigeria were competing in the discipline on mass-start bars and, after the race, presented them with a gift of aero bars for all their bikes.
One of the riders, Yekeen Oyetayo Tawakalt, expressed her gratitude on Instagram (opens in new tab) after Franziska Brauße and Mieke Kröger presented them with their new gear.
“Thank you so much for today @franzibrausse and @mieke.kroeger, it really means a lot to us, words alone can’t express our gratitude to you, this is a gradual process and we thank you for trusting us and encouraging us in this process, we are rooting for you both and you really inspire us a lot.”
The four-woman Nigerian team made their World Championship debut in 2021 after qualifying in the Cali, Colombia round of the UCI Track Nations Cup. Grace Ayuba, Oyetayo, Mary Samuel and Ese Ukpeseraye are representing their country at Worlds in France this week, with riders taking on both endurance and sprint events – Team Pursuit, Team Sprint, the Elimination Race and 500m Time Trial.
As a developing team, the green and white-clad women are still making progress in technique and fitness but one glaring difference between them and their competitors was their lack of aerodynamic equipment.
Brauße and Kroeger spoke to Radsport-news.com on Thursday, revealing that they privately conspired to assemble the gift for the Nigerian team.
“We saw last year at the world championships in Roubaix for the first time that they were riding with mass start handlebars – and in Glasgow at the Nations Cup again. That’s when we thought: We have to do something about that!”
“Exactly,” Kröger added. “Then we were on a roll and thought: They’d have to get time trial handlebars, come on we’ll organize it. I tried to get old time trial handlebars through the NRW regional association, but they were no longer UCI-compliant.”
Brauße said the idea simmered for a while but a few weeks before Worlds, she scoured the internet for some deals on bars that could be adjusted to suit the Nigerians’ bikes. “I found some really clever ones and bought them – but at a discount because I told the supplier what we were planning. So we ordered them and then brought them here,” she said.
Kröger said the plan was to give them the bars during the training sessions before competition started but they didn’t find them, so they presented them after the individual pursuit on Wednesday. “It was really nice how grateful and sweet they were.”
She also offered to help give the riders some tips when there is open track time this weekend.
“Yes, I’ll probably still be here on Sunday. And if there’s still track time there and they’re interested, then I’ll go out on the track with them again and give them tips. Because especially at the standing start, some of them still start sitting down and so on. That’s where you can maybe still give tips. But in general, we just think they’re very, very brave!”