The post Pro Tour criteriums are a famous tradition in the Netherlands. Top pro riders gather and ‘race’ in front of big crowds, who often followed the Tour de France from behind their television, for around 2 hours on short circuits so that the people finally have the chance to see their heroes in real life. These ‘races’ are also notorious as most of them are just a show. The podium is decided upon in the dressing room before the race. The well-paid heroes have to end up on the podium and they want to get that done with as little effort as possible. The unknown names and least paid riders have to be quiet and sit at the back of the bunch. For years this worked fine, the crowd didn’t really care, didn’t know, or didn’t want to know. However, it seems that the time for these show races is up. One Post-Tour Criterium called the ‘Draai van de Kaai’ renewed their concept and banned the upfront decided races, to be changed for a real race. Within this concept, the NL Crit Series were asked to come with something that is both a show as a real race which is exactly what our sport is. Results can be found here.
Text: Brian Megens
Photography: Nils Laengner
Race Director Jan-Willem Blok:
“This race was a memorable one. Never before we were able to have a fixed gear race in The Netherlands in front such a big audience. And never before we’ve had so many top level riders on the starting grid. Thanks to all riders who came out to race with us and making this race a great promo for fixed gear racing in The Netherlands And many thanks to our sponsors and the Draai van de Kaai organisation for making this possible. Proud of our NL Crit Series team we pulled this off. Let’s hope we can do more of these kind of races in the future.”
The NL Crit Series didn’t do half work to get a great field on the grid. All top RHC and NL Crit Series riders were invited. With Red Hook Criterium London No.3 being a week prior to the race, many riders accepted the invitation to be part of this unique race in the Netherlands. It is fair to say that is was by far the best starting field ever in a fixed gear crit in the Netherlands and possibly one of the strongest fixed gear crits ever held outside the Red Hook Crits of course.
In front of over 10.000 spectators the riders started for their 19 laps on a very technical, and fast circuit which demanded world-class bike handling skills. From the start it was Eamon Lucas who set the pace ripping the field. However, it was local, and top RHC rider, David van Eerd who was the smartest and took the first prime. Within 3 laps the whole field was spread and it was apparent that the lead group of 14 world-class riders was the decisive one. The 14 riders in the group were: Eamon Lucas, Robin Gemperle, Edwin van Kerkhof, Luc Ducrot, David van Eerd, Yannick Mayer, Brian Megens, Alessandro Mariani, Marius Petrache, Kaj Verhaegh, Tim Ceresa, Timon Seubert, William Lewis, and Andrea Vassallo. With an average pace of 45k an hour, getting away solo from the front group was almost impossible although both Luc Ducrot as Eamon Lucas tried several times. Luc’s effort was well placed, by going into the last lap he managed to get a small gap on the rest. However, Eamon Lucas didn’t allow anyone to get away and went over Luc with around half a lap to go. Eamon could hold his lead before David van Eerd who came very close in the end but had to settle for 2nd place and both the primes. The podium was complemented by Italian Alessandro Mariani.
All in all the race was a big succes. Credits to both NL Crit Series and the Draai v/d Kaai organisation to create this platform which is perfect to showcase our sport. Let’s hope more opportunities will follow from this!