I have been following Albert Timmer for 5 years now. Its a long known open secret on road.cc based on this original article (click here) I posted from the Catalan stages of the 2009 Tour de France.
He is a staple in any fantasy cycling team I post on this websites season long competition.
The then Skill (now Giant) domestique was fresh faced in that Tour and after forming a road side alliance with members of his family camping near to where we stayed, we decided to follow him.
It's been a pretty barren quest to be honest. We could claim Marcel Kittel's wins for ourselves as big Albert is regularly part of his lead out train. Although there have been flashes of brilliance from the man himself.
Albert was part of a Mont Ventoux breakaway in that Tour and has been in various escapes ever since. He even won the king of the mountains in a recent Tour of Luxembourg.
Saturday was a whole new ball game though with the whole family (even those not born when this obsession started) gathered round the television cheering him on. He was strong in the early stages of the breakaway setting the pace on the first big climb.
Was he keeping out of trouble or was he dictating the pace?
Heart said one thing, head another. To the naked eye though, he looked really strong.
But, as the stage drew to a close a puncture in the front of the break left him alone and he pushed on for glory.
Every grinding, painful pedal stroke was greeted with delirious cheers from those gathered before a TV set in Peterborough. Every surge out of the saddle to keep the cadence steady was met with applause. Every slump back down and glance down at his handlebar stem was met with a gasp and a sigh.
We believed. All of us believed. But then he wobbled. Albert slowed down and it became clear he would be captured before the stage ended.
It came around 2km to go and despite him hanging on with the advanced party of riders, I think deep down we all knew. A family went silent and slumped back in its sofa and arm chairs. Albert was duly dropped and left to roll home after the winners.
Exhausted he slumped on his bars, no doubt in tears whilst waiting for a Giant/Shimano helper to come and lead him away.
I have never and will never race at his level. Never. But for a split second all my racing disappointments came back to me and I felt terrible for Albert.
Has our support dwindled ? No.
I still feel that his big win will come. It will feel even better after this disappointment that's for sure. It may still happen this Giro, we shall have to wait and see how his morale holds up I suppose.
As yet there is no reply to my Tweet to him asking for #timmerforthetourofbritain ... we can but hope.
Thanks for an amazing afternoon though young Albert. We were so close, so close...