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Pascal Eenkhoorn may not have won the stage, but he sure won a lot of hearts at the Tour of Britain on Saturday.
Eenkhoorn, 24, had attacked into the day’s breakaway and was racing toward the final on the race’s seventh stage. The five-rider group was ripping toward the Edinburgh city center finish when a young fan started pedaling furiously alongside them on the sidewalk.
Eenkhoorn towed the group up the slight rise and drew level with the youngster before taking a slug from his bottle and handing it off to his wannabe adversary.
GCN commentator and former pro racer Matt Stephens sounded genuinely emotional as cameras captured the moment.
“That is what cycling is all about, absolutely superb, I’m a bit choked up,” Stephens said as he called the race.
Eenkhoorn was dropped under a flurry of attacks from stage-winner Yves Lampaert and breakaway rivals Matteo Jorgenson and Matt Gibson shortly after the bottle-gifting gesture, finishing the stage in fifth.
Although Eenkhoorn missed the podium, his name will long be associated with the stage after becoming the star of social media. Teammates, rivals, staffers, fans and pundits united to praise his gesture and poke fun at the UCI’s stringent rules around littering and the controversies that arose from it, including when Michael Schär was ejected from this year’s Tour of Flanders for throwing a bottle to roadside fans.
Here’s just a selection of what the socialsphere had to say after Saturday’s stage:
Class move from @PascalEenkhoorn there. I was genuinely moved and choked up a bit in commentary.. as I said, that’s what cycling is all about.. @gcntweet @Eurosport_UK @TourofBritain https://t.co/fEHYKHkU6A
— Matt Stephens (@RealStephens) September 11, 2021
— Ard Bierens (@ard_bierens) September 11, 2021
#TourOfBritain – Stage 7 jury report*
– Eenkoorn, 500 CHF and -25pt in UCI ranking for disposing bidon in dangerous manner
– The child: 200 CHF and -20'' in GC for feeding in unauthorized zone
*this tweet is a joke
— La Flamme Rouge (@laflammerouge16) September 11, 2021
worth any fine in the world! https://t.co/mwLJDysz9E
— Christine Majerus (@C_Majerus) September 11, 2021