Mathias Frank: From the top ten in the round to a slowly fading candle
Sometimes you have these riders where you think when you read the news they are stopping: “Huh, was he still racing?” Matthias Frank is one of those. The Swiss has been a victim of the general rise in the sport, but nonetheless has some great places on his honor roll.
Frank made an impression in 2007 by winning the Thuringian Rundfahrt, a prestigious race between promises. There he kept Tony Martin and Steven Kreuzvik behind, which immediately led to a contract with Germany’s Gerolsteiner, a team of the highest caliber.
But in his first professional year, it turned out that the leaders of this team (Stefan Schumacher and Bernard Kohl) could not stay away from the candy jar and the sponsor pulled the plug at the end of 2008. So in 2009, the young Swiss (at the time) joined the formation of the American BMC All-Swiss, with fellow countryman and businessman Andy Rees at the helm of the team.
Frank is growing up with BMC, but this team is outsmarting him
Frank grew by the level of the BMC team, which entered the WorldTour in 2011. This was also the season in which Frank demonstrated his abilities as a top-level climber for the first time: in his favorite Tour de Suisse, the man from Roglisswil finished sixth. Two years later, en route to overall victory on his country tour, he was giving up on the final day, when he slipped from first to fifth.
With Cadel Evans and Richie Porte, among others, and BMC’s Swiss figure waning, it’s hard for Frank to throw himself into the biggest matches. He’s been consistently performing at WorldTour races for one week, but wanted to try it out at Grand Tours as well. For this reason, he moved to the new IAM Cycling in 2014, which is also a Swiss formation.
Frank immediately felt comfortable with this new team. With teammates like Sylvain Chavanel, Oliver Niessen and Heinrich Heusler, he had his best year ever. Frank won a stage and finished second at the Critérium International, finished fourth in the Tour de Romandie, and won handily after the Tour of Switzerland, where only Rui Costa was so strong.
Compete for the Tour Ranking with Mollema and ride the Vuelta with Gesink
He then withdrew from the Tour de France, but the following year was allowed to return as IAM captain. After a modest spring, he seemed to compete for a long time in the tour for tenth and fifteenth place, even in the seventeenth grade to Pra-Loup, he suddenly managed to keep up for a long time and rose to seventh place. He lost another place to Buc Mollema, but nonetheless Frank was suddenly eighth in Paris on the final board.
2016, the last year of IAM cycling, may have been a bad year for Frank, but he took his sweetest victory there: On the 17th mountain stage of the Vuelta, he settled out of the leading group with Robert Jesink, Belo Bilbao and Leopold Koenig on a steep final climb.
For 2017, he allowed himself to be seduced into the role of valet to Romain Bardet in AG2R, where he had to become another pawn for the French rating rider. With Frank as first lieutenant, he made it to the podium at the Tour de France in the first year of the two, while Frank showed himself traditionally at the Tour of Switzerland.
It turned out to be Frank’s last real stunt, which lasted for four years and only finally hung his bike after this year’s Swiss Championship. Something like that is beautifully called ‘come out like a candle’, which gave light mainly during the tours in his country, during his fourteen career, but also occasionally in Tour and Vuelta …
Tom van der Salem (Twitter: Tweet embed) | Email: [email protected])
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