BIKE AID: Amanuel, you are still a quite young man. At 21 years, it is your first time to be far away from your home and family for so long. How does it feel?
Amanuel Mengis (21): I am more than happy of the opportunity of doing what I want and being here. Nevertheless, it is also not so easy for me being far away from home for a long time, but you know, I keep telling myself that this is the biggest chance of my life so far for me to excel in my profession, and I will keep challenging myself further because I am still this young. But still, I miss my family and hope I can stand the feeling of missing my family…. I think I can pull it off, I am strong (laughs).
Meron, for you it is a bit different. You already gained two years of experience in South Africa when you were member of the MTN-Qhubeka feeder team. What are your expectations now that you are in Europe?
Meron Teshome (23): Talking about expectations is always not so easy. Yes, I did gain some experience in South Africa when I was trained in the UCI cycle center added to experiences I gained when I teamed alongside the national team. I also did the Tour de l’Avenir (biggest stage race for U23), but this is quite a very different challenge. Now I have to compete with the best riders in the world and that is something really great. So I hope I can gain even more and even more versatile experiences as I grow professionally.
Amanuel Mengis: (laughs again) yeah, Meron is always kind of modest. He certainly does have a couple of real good success already, but he is humble. I’d have to agree, we cannot just fill our heads with many expectations now, and it is quite soon for the both of us: we’re both on our first year and first season in Europe. My personal goal is to develop and to adapt to highest of standards.
Meron, you said that the level here in Europe is so high and different. What exactly is the difference in racing in Africa or Europe?
Meron Teshome: I don’t want to be misunderstood. Races in Africa are also very hard and already at a good level, they are definitely on their own way of development. The difference would be on the tacticts of the race.
You two just started at the Mallorca Challenge in Spain with a lot of the best riders in the world. How did you feel?
Meron Teshome: (with bright shining eyes): It was just an incredible moment. I was happy and proud when I rode next to my companion Daniel Teklehaymanot (Eritrean Pro- Cyclist, Team Dimension Data WorldTour), and even more thrilled when all of a sudden Fabian Cancellara turned up to ride next to me. He has been my idol since I was a child and it felt like a dream. I immediately told Daniel that I was riding next to my idol, I told him in our language tgringna, he was happy for me too.
That was one of the joyous moments related to my profession that I still find hard to believe it was true.
Amanuel Mengis: Yes, yes. That is exactly how I felt when Sir Bradley Wiggins was riding next to me, almost trough out the whole day!
What does BIKE AID mean to you? And how is it regarded back in your country Eritrea?
Meron Teshome: To me, this team means much more than just a “normal” cycling team. It is more like a family: you know how when we travel for races, other teams sit together but they do not really talk or laugh, while this is a lot different. We enjoy being together, we have lot of fun together and most of the time we joke around and simply have a good time.
Lot of the times other guys look at us and wonder how we manage to be so close to each other.
A lot of people know of Bike Aid back at home, in Eritrea. They know of its concept and the project behind it, especially after the success of Mekseb Debesay, when he moved from BIKE AID to the WorldTour.
Coming to the end. What do you like of Europe, Germany and what not?
Amanuel Mengis: The roads are awesome here. Perfect spots for training. I stayed a bit longer in Mallorca and it was just great to train there. I also enjoyed the coffee-stops during our training rides in Mallorca, which was a very nice feeling.
Meron Teshome: (starts laughing loud) yes, this is really good. But me unlike Amanuel, I was experiencing the other side of the coin when I arrived couple of weeks ago and during a ride it started to snow!
So the positive excitement turned quickly into suffering when I realized how cold it is, I don’t have prior experience of snow. Also, consecutive rainy days… that is a first too!