Niels van der Pijl is a master student in Plant Science and in his free time he does cycle racing. He is not an ordinary race cycler, since he participates in international races. One of his most special experiences is the Tour of Congo, where he won the race! He became third at the Tour of Madagascar and he participated in the Tour of Vietnam. Especially Vietnam was a special experience. “Children did not need to attend school that day and were supporting us. It became clear to me that teenage girls do not only scream at Justin Bieber. By contrast, the atmosphere during the course was rather grimly. After a fight during the course, a teammate was beaten off his bicycle. Also once we were cycling in the front of the peloton, racers were trying to drive us into the fence”.
A few weeks ago, he participated in the Tour of the Dominican Republic. This race didn’t end well; he ran off the road where his face was smashed at a wall. “I broke four vortices of my cervical spine, my ribs were bruised and I suffered a concussion. I don’t remember anything of the moment itself, but I heard I was unconscious for a minute. Eventually, I got on my bicycle and finished the downhill on adrenaline. When I arrived downhill, I could not continue and I was taken to the hospital.”
“Due to the fall in the Dominican Republic, I had to miss the Tour of Cameroon.” Already two weeks after his fall, he started to train again with a neck brace. He hopes to start cycling his first courses soon, so that he will be fit again for the Tour of Togo in April. “For the rest of the season, I started to look for new challenges. Therefore, I will cycle two World Cups as a tandem pilot in the beginning of May. I also want to focus on the fixed gear cycling, where you have one gear that runs constantly so you cannot keep your legs still. In addition, there are no brakes on the bake, making it a matter of steering to keep yourself upright in the turns.”
“I am also looking forward to cycle with some friends from Budapest to Bucharest this summer. A highlight of this route will be the Transfăgărășan Road; one of the most dangerous roads in the world due to its turns, tunnels and its poor road surface. The route will reach 2100 meters altitude, a reason why it is one of the most beautiful places where we will cycle.”