VIDEO: Yasmeen Koloc went through hell, and now she is happy…
While most of the Tour de France fans look especially for a rider with a yellow jersey, which is reserved for the leader and the winner, all cyclists respect especially the one with a white number on a red background. That is a rider chosen by a committee of eights experts as the biggest fighter of the stage. And at Baja Jordan, that one would almost definitely go to Yasmeen Koloc, navigated by Stéphane Duple.
The 17-year-old started the 3rd stage after retiring in the previous one due to technical difficulties. “She was a bit angry, but Aliyyah drove brilliantly, so she quickly calmed down. The girls are cheering for each other. She didn’t even want to admit that she is facing a short, but a very difficult stage. Mud, dunes, rocks, deep valleys,” says David Vršecký, a mentor of both Koloc sisters.
This dramatic story with a happy ending started after the 5th out of 150 kilometres, when the intercom stopped working. “We took it as it’s something that happens in sport. Stéphane had to navigate me manually. We had a good drive and explained to each other how we’re probably going to have to work in the mountains,” explained Yasmeen at the finish. However, the sporting fate was against them, as shortly after entering the mountains area, the 10°C weather has been spiced up by an unusual rain. But it got even worse for the Can-Am crew. While Yasmeen managed to move her way up the field, despite starting from the back, she was also the last one allowed into the mountains. So, while Aliyyah victoriously crossed the line, and the rest of the crews enjoyed asphalt roads, her sister still faced lots of adrenalin. “Everything went against us. Places, there were supposed to be dry, turned into rivers. The roadbook didn’t work, we got stuck in the river, only one rear half-axle was working…,” described the experienced navigator their challenges. “I knew that something was going on, but Stéphane remained totally calm. So, we just kept moving, sometimes doing repairs, then moved on again, but it was really cold,” added Yasmeen.
However, at the finish line, it was a long way from calmness. “We knew that Aliyyah was leading, so that was perfect. But then Martin brought some satellite images and we found out that there are deep pits all around. While it is a nice drive in the sunny conditions, it was nothing good in this weather,” explained David Vršecký. “We were counting each kilometre, and Aliyyah even forgot that she has just won.”
Just to make it to the end was itself like a victory for the frozen and wet crew. “There was no strength for the joy. I’d say that Yasmeen didn’t even have any idea what was going on, what she had just gone through in her 2nd race, and she disappeared with Aliyyah into some warmer places. Meanwhile, I was thanking Stéphan, for his heroic performance. He kept his calm throughout the whole race, perfectly handled all risks and brought her home. He also took care of all mechanical issues, I should probably praise him to the heavens,” ended the father and team principal Martin Koloc.