Bas Tietema's professional cycling story was seemingly over before it had even begun.
Third in the U23 version of Paris-Roubaix, and part of the BMC training team alongside established professionals Pavel Sivakov, Nathan Van Hooydonck and Pascal Eenkhoorn, Tietema looked to be on the trajectory to filling a spot in a WorldTour roster before a serious skin allergy forced him to climb off prior to him turning a professional pedal.
Instead, he turned to YouTube, creating cycling videos such as the Garden Hour Record or giving pizzas out to Tour de France riders after they finish the 21st stage of the race on the Champs-Élysées. So popular are the videos that Tietema, alongside his friends Josse Wester and Devin van der Wiel, have amassed 125,000 subscribers on the platform.
In 2021, looking to step up the ambition of their videos, they created the Tour de Tietema Cycling Team, setting themselves the heady goal of winning a race. It was through this endeavour that Tietema says he re-found his love of racing, and the skin complaints also disappeared, leaving him wondering whether he still had the time to make it to the professional ranks.
He got in touch with Belgian ProTeam Bingoal-Pauwels Sauces-WB, and although Tietema wasn't at the level required immediately, his rapid improvement was enough of a surprise for the team to take a punt on him.
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“Bas told us in September about his dream to become a professional cyclist again. It was clear to everyone that there was still a lot of work to be done and frankly it seemed too far away," general manager Christophe Brandt admitted to Wielerflits. "But at the training camp in December he surprised us. Bas has made huge strides in a short time, we trust that he will be a valuable addition to our team. He can gain weight quickly and help fast men in a final, so we are very curious where his limits are.”
Tietema will no doubt provide much greater awareness of the team this season due to his social media fame. "The whole chat on Tour of Antalya live feed is Dutchies going 'what's Bas Tietema doing?' and you have to say that kinda vindicates the decision of that team to sign Bas Tietema," writer Tom Owen said on Twitter. "The first team to go WorldTour with a squad entirely of vloggers/influencers/memers is gonna clean up."
The Tour of Antalya in Turkey is where Tietema has made his professional debut. After finishing 23rd on the opening flat stage, the next two hilly days have seen him roll in with the grupetto.
"After 970 days without a (pro) race I can finally trade being a vlogger for being a cyclist again," Tietema said on the day of his debut.
So far, the only other race on his calendar is the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe on April 5, but wherever he does race, you know a YouTube camera won't be far behind.
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