Saturday, April 20, 2024

Bas Tietema – “Continental level is not our final destination”

The ‘Tour de Tietema’ YouTube channel will have its own Continental team for 2023 with online gambling giant, Unibet as main sponsor.

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HomeInterviewsBas Tietema - "Continental level is not our final destination"

Some teams have embraced ‘Social Media’ more – and better – than others; but it’s now universally accepted that it’s essential for teams to have a presence, ‘in the ether.’

GreenEDGE with their Backstage Pass’ videos on YouTube understood early the value of social media and during the pandemic whilst many teams went into hibernation, Quick-Step produced interesting and fun videos about what their riders were up to.

But taking things one step further is ‘YouTuber’ and Dutch professional cyclist, Bas Tietema whose ‘Tour de Tietema’ YouTube channel will have his own Continental team for 2023 with online gambling giant, Unibet as main sponsor – the company ‘blurb’ tells us: “Unibet provides a platform for sports betting, online casino, bingo and online poker to over 11 million customers in over 100 countries.” A major sponsor many larger teams would be happy to be associated with.

We spoke with new signing Harry Tanfield in early January, so we thought it was about time we spoke to the boss to hear his tale:

Happy New Year, Bas – going back to the start, you were a promising junior rider.

“Yes, I was pretty decent and as a result I got the opportunity to join the BMC Development Team which was one of the best u23 teams around at that time.”

Bas Tietema
Bas Tietema was with BMC in his early career. Photo©Eurosport

And you took third in the 2014 u23 Paris-Roubaix.

“Yes, the result I’m perhaps best known for and it was a quality field with Mike Teunissen winning, Stefan Kung 12th and Tiesj Benoot 15th.”

You were strong against the watch too with a podium in the Dutch iTT Championships.

“In that era you had guys like Mads Pedersen and Mathieu Van Der Poel on their way up and we were all pretty ‘complete’ riders – not climbers but we could all ride the cobbles and time trial pretty strongly.”

Bas Tietema checks his phone at La Molina in 2017. Photo©supplied

After BMC you went to AN Post.

“BMC stopped, they got tired of bringing guys up and then other teams coming along and getting the benefit of their development work.

“My management agency was Trinity who had good connections with AN Post so when BMC folded they organised me a ride.”

Then you went to BEAT Cycling.

“That was the last year of the first period of my professional career, I had issues with skin allergies and my motivation slipped.

“AN Post and BEAT were semi-pro teams and it was tough for me to figure out what I wanted to do next.”

Bas Tietema
Bas Tietema rode with Bingoal Pauwels Sauces for several seasons. Photo©Remo Tintin

Seasons 2019 to 2021 you weren’t on the bike but 2022 saw you back in the peloton with Bingoal Pauwels Sauces.

“I followed lots of sports when I wasn’t racing but I still loved the bike – and I had a big interest in Social Media.

“I thought to myself, ‘what can I do?’ and that was the start of things, I started to post videos from the Tour de France and we went from zero to getting 200,000/300,000 views.

“Bingoal was one of our sponsors on the channel; I was on the bike and going OK so they gave me an opportunity to ride for the team – but I had to reach a certain level in tests.

“It was a hard season, I went OK in the first race, which was the Tour of Antalaya but when there were cross winds or difficult parcours it was super tough.”

Bas Tietema and pals with his new team car. Photo©Škoda

You have 150,000 plus subscribers on Tour de Tietema but Dutch is the language – have you considered an English language version?

“I haven’t checked the numbers recently but the English language question is a good one, albeit we now have English subtitles on our videos.

“We’re Dutch guys though so a lot of the humour is specific to that language.

“We’re going to continue to focus on the Dutch/Flemish market but we know there’s big potential in the UK, USA and Australia, however we don’t want to make too big a step too quickly.”

The team, how, why?

“It’s an ambition I’ve had for quite some time; to provide a unique inside story from a team which is riding some of the biggest races around – I want to see how far we can go with it.

“We’re a Media House so we’re not relying on external platforms – and it’s not just going to be purely about results for our sponsors.”

A couple of names which caught my eye in your line up are the Englishman Harry Tanfield and the Czech rider Tomas Kopecky.

“I remember Harry’s win in the 2018 Tour of Yorkshire but he’s been unlucky with Katusha and Qhubeka folding.

“I saw his name in the results this year here in The Netherlands and in Belgium, that took my interest and I spoke to our team coach, Hugo Haak we agreed that Harry would be an asset to the team – particularly in the Belgian and Dutch races where cross winds are a big factor and a strong guy like Harry comes into his own.

“Tomas is Czech but lives in The Netherlands and speaks Dutch, he had some very strong results at the end of 2022 with third in the u23 Paris-Tours the highlight.”

Because of your strong Social Media presence does that help with getting into races?

“It’s a combination, yes the Social Media is a factor but you also have to field a strong team, which I think we have.

“As well as the strong riders we have excellent staff in Hugo and Rob Harmeling and that’s also a factor.

“We’re confirmed in the UCI 2.1 Tour of Antalya in Turkey, the UCI 1.2 Craft Ster van Zwolle and UCI 2.2 Olympia’s Tour, both in the Netherlands and the UCI 2.Pro Tour of Belgium.

“But we’re also hoping for wild cards in races like the ZLM Tour and Tour of Britain.”

Bas Tietema
It’s not the first time Unibet has been in the peloton. Photo©imago

Unibet had a bad experience with cycling sponsorship, but you have them back in the sport.

“They’ve been looking to come back into the sport, but yes, they had a difficult experience back in 2007 when they were caught in the middle of a dispute between ASO and the UCI about teams sponsored by gambling companies.

“But now, with Lotto, FdJ and Circus all in the peloton there can be no complaints about ‘gambling sponsors.’ 

“It’s a big step for them to come back but there are a lot of people in the organisation who are into the sport, they could have backed a Pro Team or World Tour team but showed belief in us and gave us a lot of freedom.

“And like us, they believe that Continental level is not our final destination.”