cycling news / Highlights of the Season | Vanden Bak & Olesen
In this second episode of ‘Highlights of the Season’ Laurent Vanden Bak and Patrick Olesen take the time to look back on their 2016 campaign with Leopard Pro Cycling. Both guys struggled with injuries, which meant that their seasons didn’t work out as planned.
Laurent Vanden Bak
In the early stages of the 2016 season, Vanden Bak was active at his Tour de Normandie. Unfortunately, he was not able to repeat his performances of one year earlier when he chose for an attacking style of riding in the breakaway. This season, he was still able to finish the very difficult stage race, before crashing out of the Circuit des Ardennes. His 26-year-old body was not damaged too bad, but it took him a few competition days to succesfully complete a race. In the Paris-Arras Tour, the Škoda Tour de Luxembourg, Rund um Köln and the Oberösterreich Rundfahrt he was back helping and guiding the team with his experience. As he suffered from new health issues near the end of the season, the Belgian is motivated to take his chance during the 2017 season.
“It’s obvious that I hoped for a better 2016 season. For example a viral infection and a nasty crash in Circuit des Ardennes caused that I was not able to show myself as much as I wanted. Fortunately, there were still some nice moments. The Škoda Tour de Luxembourg was by far the coolest experience of the whole season. Working for the team, together with BMC Pro Racing, and leading the peloton still gives me some chills if I look back on it. Being in a team from Luxembourg, this race was the biggest one of the year and you could feel the support of the fans. This memory plus the frustrations of a lost season will give me the power to do a perfect winter, to seek forward with ambition to 2017!”
In the 2016 season, Olesen showed himself for the first time during the highly rated Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux in Belgium. In the final stage from Tournai to Chièvres, the Dane went on the attack, gathering quite a few KOM points which placed him in third in this classification. Later on in the season, the 22-year-old showed a good performance in the Škoda Tour de Luxembourg where he was often able to mix in with the best riders in the race. He took this great form with him to the Oberösterreich Rundfahrt where he finished eighth in the first stage and tenth overall. From this point on, Olesen struggled with his health, causing him to end the season with mixed feelings.
“I look back on this season with mixed feelings. I started the season well with a very good base training, but unfortunately I was stopped by a lung inflammation in the first months of the season. As a result, my performances were not good. It was very difficult to recover from this, but I am still proud that I came back into good shape at the Škoda Tour de Luxembourg and the Oberösterreich Rundfahrt. Here we had a very good team spirit and we did everything to fight for good results. Unfortunately, this good period was followed by the biggest disappointment of the season. In the Tour d’Alsace I was aiming for a strong result, but my body didn’t want to work together with my head. All in all, I decided to end my cycling career after the 2016 season with good memories to a great period at Leopard Pro Cycling.”