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Bahrain-Merida select rider for Tour de France just six months after he started road cycling

Jack Elton-Walters
28 Jun 2017

Former mountain biker Ondrej Cink told us about making the switch to road and looking forward to his first Tour de France

Ondrej Cink is a 26-year-old cyclist who has just been selected in the Bahrain-Merida squad for the 2017 Tour de France. Nothing remarkable in that. He's not even particularly young for a debutant, Eddy Merckx won his first title aged 24 in 1969.

What makes the Czech rider stand out is the fact that he has only been riding on the road since January and this weekend he'll take the start of the biggest race in the world.

Until the end of the 2016 season, Cink was a full time cross country mountain biker riding for Merida. The link with the bike brand and co-sponsor of the WorldTour team Bahrain-Merida faciliated his transfer to the road team.

'It's crazy!' Cink said at the launch of the new Merida Reacto Team-E aero bike.

'I've only been for half a year on the road, and I didn't expect to ride - in the first year - the Tour France.'

Despite being all about XC until he changed disciplines, Cink says 'it was always his dream' to ride the Tour.

Just days out from the Grand Depart in Dusseldorf, Cink was beginning to look ahead to the enormity of what he was about to undertake.

'I'm excited for the start, but also a little bit nervous,' Cink said. In fact, he hasn't had a lot of time to get too nervous as he was only informed of his selection nine days before he's set to roll down the ramp at the opening time trial.

'I was [training for] selection for the Vuelta, but I did some good training camps on Tenerife, then straight to the Tour de Suisse.'

Cink came away with a top-20 finish in the GC of a tough race in Switzerland, further showing his potential on the road and that race capped off a sequence that led to his selection.

'I think now I'm in good shape,' he said matter-of-factly. 'But I've never done a Grand Tour, so I don't know how [I'll feel] in the third week.'

The rider's two, suitably modest, aims are to finish his first Grand Tour and to play a team role throughout.

However, when asked about the potential for personal glory he was open to the idea of coming away from his first Tour de France with a stage win.

'There is some chance, always, to go into a breakaway and try to win. But we will see.'

Photos courtesy of Merida