The shades of grey in the sky above our heads were endless on that specific spring Sunday in Bech. It was weather where you shouldn't put your dog out and yet, 153 riders showed up at our races. Under gusts of wind that knocked down podiums and barriers with advertising banners, the courageous riders set off in company of rain showers that alternated with hailstones and some rare bright periods, even making a magnificent rainbow appear along the course at the end of the afternoon. However, it wasn't the world champion who honoured us with his presence, but a European champion: Mathieu Kockelmann won the 35th edition of the Grand-prix OST-Fenster with brio, at the end of a day that was also marked by the spectacular solo effort of German rider Ian Kings, winner of the Oldest of the Luxemburgish cycling races, the Grand-prix François Faber.
5 DNS were registrated in the minimes category, so they were 16 to start for two laps on a difficult circuit around Bech, 5 minutes after their colleagues in the cadets category. As expected, the peloton quickly split into pieces and three riders took the lead, 150 meters ahead of the rest of the group. Soon, there were only two of them left at the front: at mid-race, Ben Schmitt and Lorenzo Astolfi had about 20 seconds advantage on Yannis Elsen and Kilian Schmitz, whereas the peloton, which was now down to only 8 riders, had a deficit of more than 50 seconds. Schmitt and Astolfi were clearly the strongest riders and they only increased their advantage during the second lap to battle for the win betweem them both. With an acceleration on the windy climb between Berbourg and Bech, Lorenzo Astolfi took Schmitt by surprise and won with 16 seconds advantage on the SAF Zéisseng rider. Behind them, Kilian Schmitz had shown some weaknesses at a moment, but the German rider made up for it later by passing Yannis Elsen and, finally, limiting his gap to less than a minute. Unfortunately, no girl participated in this race for the youngest riders of the Souvenir Marcel Gilles.
Compared to the minimes, the 25 cadets stayed together a little bit longer and it was only after a crash at the end of the first loop that the peloton broke into pieces, with 11 riders at the front, followed by four more: Viaene, Kommes, Molter, Sinner, Hansen, Gridelet, Remy, Fleming, Cichy, König and Moog had a small minute advantage on D'Evola, Dolezel and Kings at mid-race, whereas the others were a little bit further back. Paul Moog and Ben Fleming lost contact to the leading group at the beginning of the third lap, followed by Dave Cichy, Ben Koenig and Hugo Gridelet. At the head of the race, Yanis Molter was the strongest rider and the Dauner Youth Cup leader strengthened his lead in the classification with a sprint win, a few seconds before Paul Kommes, Tunn Sinner, Thibault Hansen, Robrecht Viaene and Florian Remy in this order. June Nothum was the best girl in this race, finishing in a nice thirteenth place overall, far ahead of Chiara Christen and Sarah Koenig.
In the race for Novices and Ladies, 22 of the 33 riders were still together after one lap of the race, among them the courageous young Kylie Bintz as the only girl. Already a minute later followed a second small group with the other female competitors, some of whom were much more experienced than the small Kylie. Later, the rider from Brouch logically lost contact with the leading peloton of her male counterparts. This group remained together over the first laps and it was necessary to wait for round number four before seeing the race situation change: 6 riders broke away on the climb to Berbourg. Dutchman Sander Tullemans, Belgian Rune François, German Owen Kings as well as the home riders Flavio Astolfi, David Loschetter and Rodrigo Dos Santos Neves had a lead of around ten seconds over Arnaud Noirhomme and Lenn Schmitz. Behind a few more single riders, the first real pelotonon quickly was a minute behind. Noirhomme and Schmitz were able to come back to the leading men in the next lap, while Sjoerd Spanjaard, Lennox Papi and Yannis Lang were only around thirty seconds away and would soon come back too, just like Leander De Gendt and Théo Da Costa Passetti in lap 5. A next peloton was 2 minutes away while junior Clémence Barette had bridged up to novice Kylie Bintz at the top of the girls' classification. They were thirteen together for the victory at the sound of the bell and the decision had to fall in the last lap. Two riders soon broke away from the pack and battled out the victory in the last hectometers: David Loschetter was stronger than Flavio Astolfi and took the win with several meters advantage on the Dauner Youth Cup leader. Thirty seconds later, Sander Tullemans took third place in a small group of five riders. In the women's categories, Clémence Barette finally managed to get rid of Kylie Bintz to win the title in the junior category, but with a couragous fight, the young novice avoided to be lapped by the best male riders, in opposition to the other female colleagues. Zoé Gaillard and Sarah Mousel took the next positions in the younger category, whereas Wencke Tullemans and Alix Pairoux completed the podium in the junior, U23 and elite women's categories.
The 99th Grand-prix François Faber for juniors and masters saw 28 riders at the start, among them only 6 juniors. However, it was one of them who opened the battle with a sharp attack after only 5 kilometers of racing. German Ian Kings, a track cyclist in his spare time, produced an acceleration up the hill towards Berbourg and, 2 kilometers later, he already had a 25-second lead over a group of 23 riders in pursuit. The gap quickly took more considerable dimensions, 1'25" after 2 laps of the race, and then stabilized around the large minute. Behind the lonely leader, the chasing group began to crumble, they were only 17 left in lap three, and then exploded completely. 9 riders found themselves together, with a rapid lead of almost 2 minutes over the second group. But the cooperation wasn't the very best between the masters Christophe Romano, Grégroire Langlois, Damy Papi, Victor Widdershoven, Regis Godart and Tom Flammang as well as the juniors Théo Vaquant, Valerio Mascolo and Sven Joosten: in the fifth lap, the gap was back to 1'29". Alone in the lead against the gusts of wind, at 37 km/h average speed on this very hilly course, the German time trial champion in the novice category didn't show any kind of weakness and he started the last lap of the race nearly two minutes ahead of the chasers who had meanwhile lost, in that order, Tom Flammang, Valerio Mascolo and, due to a regulation incident, Grégoire Langlois. Ian Kings won the 99th edition of the Grand-prix François Faber after a solitary ride of 69 kilometers, 1 minute and 30 seconds ahead of a small group led by Régis Godard, runner-up and first master of the race. In this leading group, Sven Joosten completed the podium and took second position among the juniors, ahead of Christophe Romano and Dany Papi, the best Luxemburger in the event. 24 deserving riders finished the race.
After a short break, fifty brave riders set off for the 35th edition of the Grand-prix OST-Fenster for elite and U23 riders. German Matthias Petry was the first attacker of the race, soon replaced at the front by two other offensive riders. Young Mathieu Kockelmann, first year U23, and Frenchman Antoine Grimard completed the first loop with a good ten seconds advantage over an already thinning peloton. Kockelmann and Grimaud were caucht a little bit later, while the riders formed a single file in the windy section at the exit of Bech, before the peloton exploded in the crosswinds. 17 riders found themselves at the head of the race on the climb to Berbourg, quickly one minute ahead of their colleagues. But Mathieu Kockelmann was not yet satisfied, he went on the attack again on the third lap, taking with him Max Frederic Valtey. The commissaires soon announced 38 seconds lead for the reigning Junior European Time-trial champion and the 8th in the Grand-prix OST-Fenster 2022. A small peloton of chasers subsequently broke up and, at mid-race, Kockelmann and Valtey were riding 55 seconds ahead of a group of 13 comprising Ivan Centrone, Max Schrauwen, Ken Conter, Phlippe Schmit, Thomas De Milde, Charel Meyers, Guillaume Stopa, Rik Karier, Antoine Grimard, Arno Wallenborn, Tim Karier, Stefan Fettes and Ugo Zanetti. The presence of Centrone, former winner of the Grand-prix OST-Fenster, was an obstacle for a good cooperation in the group and the only pro rider in the race was practically on his own to do all the chasing work. He discouraged after a few laps and gave up the race a little later, after it started raining again.
On the seventh lap of the race, the advantage of Kockelmann and Valtey was still 50 seconds and Charel Meyers said to himself that it was time to react. At the cost of a violent effort of a lap and a half, the member of VC Schwenheim managed to bridge up to the two leading men, but the others were also not far away. At 20 seconds, Ken Conter, Arno Wallenborn and Rik Karier were fighting to join the lead, as were Antoine Grimard, Thomas De Milde and Philippe Schmit a little further on. This gave us a trio of trios within a minute, with Guillaume Stopa and Tim Karier now at 1'11". After a partial regrouping in the lead, it all started again: 6 riders found themselves together at the front with two laps to go, with victory in sight. There were the Luxemburgers Kockelmann, Wallenborn, Karier, Meyers and Conter, accompanied by the only German Valtey. But the latter was tired by the long breakaway efforts and had to drop away, while his teammate at the Snooze team, Ken Conter, was also in difficulties. The cyclo-crossman was dropped a first time but came back with one lap to go, only to be left behind again on the very last climb to Berbourg. Thus, they were still four battling for the win and, after a round of observation, Kockelmann went on the attack under the red flame. The double stage winner of the Junior Peace race took a lead of a few meters, but Wallenborn was quick to react, just like did Charel Meyers a little bit further on. The three riders settled the win in a sprint and Mathieu Kockelmann still had enough resources to win by a short margin ahead of Charel Meyers, first rider in the elite category. Arno Wallenborn completed the podium, while Rik Karier crossed the line in fourth position at around ten seconds, followed by Ken Conter. 5 Luxembourg riders in the first five places, it's been a long time since the Grand-prix OST-Fenster has seen such a thing. Only twenty riders out of the 50 starters crossed the finish line, wet to the skin and freezing cold.