Four Dutch Tour de France riders, a budget airline, and a week without luggage

Ever been through the stress of a Grand Départ? What about doing it with only one backpack of clothes

Mike Teunissen and his Intermarché-Circus-Wanty team
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We have all been there, standing at the luggage belt at the airport, waiting for your luggage to turn up, with the sinking feeling that your bags aren't going to show. Fortunately - touch wood - mine always arrive, eventually, invariably the last ones to come round.

However, for four Dutch riders at this year's Tour de France, their trip to the Grand Départ in the Basque Country was complicated by the non-arrival of their luggage at Bilbao after they flew down from Amsterdam last week.

The opening stages of the biggest bike race in the world are stressful enough, without missing a spare pair of clothes, a book, or your toiletries. Imagine having to deal with raucous Basque fans on the side of the road, the complications of the weather, a sports director screaming in your ear about positioning, and then add into that the anxiety that comes with your missing luggage into that.

This is the fate that befell Mike Teunissen (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Lars van den Berg (Groupama-FDJ), Nils Eekhoff (dsm-firmenich) and Ramon Sinkledam (Alpecin-Deceuninck) ahead of this year's race. Teunissen explained ahead of stage two that he had just one set of off-bike clothes, his racing skinsuit, and his shoes with him at the race for the first two stages, which sounds particularly useful. Lucky he didn't lose his bike.

Last Thursday, two days before the Tour began, Teunissen tweeted: “Exciting times with the Tour Grand Départ coming close. Getting even more exciting when Schiphol and Vueling are deciding to keep my suitcase in Amsterdam already for 2 days. 3.5 weeks with only a backpack incoming.”

Fortunately, his and his compatriot's bags had arrived by stage three, but it still meant more to think about in the opening days.

"It didn't arrive, I kept calling but it's a typical airline company, no answers," Teunissen said on Sunday. "It looks like it's coming today, but it's actually because I was contacting some bosses at Schiphol, but it's not ideal to start a Grand Tour. I have my suit, I have my shoes, but that's literally all I have. It's ok for now, but I cannot continue this for three weeks."

"I wash it [the skinsuit] when I'm on the training bike, then I can wear it when I come back to my bike."

The Dutch leadout man explained that he did not need the extra stress, tweeting that he had never felt so tired before a Grand Tour.

"It's annoying, because I'm not a person who can keep it under control," he said. "I'm always mentally busy with it, there's zero perspective, and it's costing a lot of energy. I hope it's arriving soon so I can focus."

Asked by Escape Collective if he had success tracking down his luggage because he spent time in the yellow jersey at the 2019 Tour, Teunissen demured.

"[It's because] I'm such a nice guy and I know so many people. If I didn't know the people at Schiphol, I would have had to wait until Paris."

Intriguingly, all four Dutch riders are men for the flat stages rather than the punchy days. Perhaps the timing of their luggage arriving - ahead of the first flat stage - is a good sign for all of them.

"Happy Dutchies," Teunissen said on Monday morning. "Now the Tour can start."

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