The turnout for the first NL Crit Series of 2018 was huge with riders coming from all over Europe to compete on the circuit of the local cycling club in Rijswijk located near The Hague. Both the quantity and the quality of the riders was very high with plenty of world-class fixed gear riders and even a Red Hook Crit winner, Davíd van Eerd, and the current national champion of Italy, Martino Poccianti.
Photos: Steve Where’s Tom
Due to the number of registrations, the organisation was able to host a separate Men’s B, Women’s, and Men’s A race. In the men’s B there were a lot of new riders who competed in their first fixed gear crit. Luckily, fixed gear crit veteran Yvo Kinkel from Team FAST provided a clinic in the morning to teach the newcomers on the rules and to provide them with tips to make sure they got the most out of their first fixed gear crit and to keep it all safe.
Due to the big variation in level in the Men’s B peloton, many riders didn’t make it to the finish. Despite several attempts, no successful break-away group was established thus the winner was going to come out of the bunch sprint. It was Mike Vlietstra who had the fastest legs of the peloton and from next races onwards will be competing in the A races.
As 9 women registered, the organisation decided to give the women a separate race. Due to the high level of women attending the race, the group was immediately split. 5 women, Lisa Wörner, Michelle de Graaf, Jo Smith, Nathalie Simoens, and Ashley Faye were going to decide who would take the win. Both Lisa Wörner and Michelle de Graaf tried to get away solo several times but her all of her attempts were neutralised. In the bunch sprint, it was Jo Smith and Michelle de Graaf who was by far the fastest. After a ‘photo finish’ between the two, it was Jo Smith who just passed the finish line a bit before Michelle de Graaf did. The podium was complemented by Nathalie Simoens.
The men’s A race had several world-class riders at the start line. In the first half of the race the tempo was extremely high but no-one in the peloton gave an inch and the bunch was all together. It was Jan-Willem Groeneveld from team WIT who took both prime laps. With 11 laps to go it was Brian Megens who counterattacked a break-away attempt by Richard Jansen from IRD and this move turned out to be the move that started the breakaway of 9 riders who were going to battle for the win. The break-away group consisted of Brian Megens, Davíd van Eerd, Edwin van Kerkhof, Eike Haumann, Kaj Verhaegh, Luc Ducrot, Martino Poccianti, Oliver Leroy, and Robin Gemperle. With 3 laps to go it was Kaj Verhaegh who attacked and got Brian Megens and Robin Gemperle with him. Olivier Leroy didn’t want to let the three go and closed the gap. With 1 lap to go it was Brian Megens who launched an attack but the fast Italian, Martino Poccianti, jumped on his wheel with the rest of the group closing the gap quickly. It was clear that the winner would be the fastest sprinter from the break-away. It was Brian Megens who attempted an early sprint which brought him in pole position up to 200 meters before the finish line. Then it was Poccianti who showcased his fast legs and comfortably outsprinted Davíd van Eerd. The podium was complemented by Edwin van Kerkhof who just put his wheel over the finish line before Kaj Verhaegh and Brian Megens who settled for 4th and 5th respectively. Luc Ducrot got 6th, Eike Haimann 7th, Olivier Leroy 8th, and Robin Gemperle 9th. The sprint of the peloton was won by Bart Dielissen who complemented the top-10 by doing so.