For every race, there are roughly 15 names in the peloton that you can note as contenders for victory. Alongside those names is a peloton filled with riders whose job it is to help their team leader achieve said victory. A large number of those support riders remain unknown. Dutchman Bram Tankink is different. This guy has ridden around in the professional peloton for 18 years without clocking up any remarkable results —nevertheless he is one of the best-known Dutch pro riders. He retired from professional racing in 2018, so here is a tribute.

Bram Tankink is fun

Bram Tankink is the embodiment of what makes bike racing such a great sport. He is someone who was always smiling at the beginning of the race, and always had a tale of adventure afterwards. He’s a rider who you can easily imagine a lot of riders seeking out during long stages for a friendly chat.

Credit: Cor Vos

Perfect team player

But Tankink is more than just a good bloke: he is perhaps the perfect team player. During his career he would ride himself into the ground on behalf of his teammates. If a couple riders broke away and there were sprinters in his team, Bram Tankink could ride for hours at the front to gain on the leaders. Or he would attack himself, forcing other teams to do the hard work.

Foto: Cor VosCredit: Cor Vos

From Domo to Jumbo

It’s not very surprising that Tankink was a well-loved colleague. He first joined the professional peloton as a member of the Domo–Farm Frites squad. He then moved to Quick-Step Floors, where he rode until 2007. During that time he booked two victories that were a big influence on his career: in 2005, he won the opening stage of the Tour of Germany; and in 2007 he won the GP Jef Scherens. Beyond that, his victories were primarily limited to criteria.

Credit: Cor Vos

But his lack of wins didn’t affect his career. After his time at Quick-Step he began riding for Rabobank in 2008. That team turned into Belkin, and thereafter LottoNL–Jumbo, where he stayed until his final race as a professional. Next year is the first that us fans will no longer see Tankink riding in the peloton, and that’s rather a shame. Tankink was a rider who always made us feel happy.