Fixed Gear Crit

Post Tour de France Criterium goes fixed with the NL Crit Series ‘Draai van de Kaai’

The NL Crit Series, previously named Vast Verzet Bokaal, is establishing itself very well in both the fixed gear scene as the Dutch national cycling scene. Already being one of the most well-known national fixed gear race series in the world, they are now also organising an event in the programme of the famous Dutch Post Tour de France criterium ‘Draai van de Kaai’ taking place on 31 July. The event promises to be big with all RHC finalists being invited. To name a few, Tristan Uhl, David van Eerd, Marius Petrache, Alessandro Mariani Stefan Vis, Stefan Rothe, Cesar Valenzuela and yes also the boss of the fixed gear crit peloton himself Aldo Ino Ilesic has registered. We talked with race director and NL Crit Series boss Jan-Willem Blok on the event, how it came about, what we can expect, and what it wants to achieve with the crit.

Header Image: Merijn Sprenkelink
Text: Brian Megens

Aldo Ino Ilesic, one of the starts of the race. Photo:
Jan-Willem Blok with Kaj Verhaegh at NL Crit Series Photo by: Steve Where’s Tom

“The Draai van de Kaai is one of the most famous post-Tdf criteriums in The Netherlands. Since the first edition back in 1980 the event has become one of the most prestigious cycling criteriums in The Netherlands. Traditionally held on the second Monday after the Tour de France, some big names of cycling history feature the list of winners. Like Marcel Kittel, Alejandro Valverde, Mark Cavendish, Alberto Contador, Tom Boonen, Mario Cipollini and Joop Zoetemelk, the last Dutch TDF winner in 1980.”

Jan-Willem Blok realises the unique opportunity to be part of such a prestigious event,“Many traditional cycling events tend to stick to their traditions. This mostly includes the categories and races they organize. Especially these kind of post-TDF criteriums attract cycling audience/fans who are not familiar with fixed gear racing at all. It’s very interesting to show fixed gear racing and NL Crit Series to such a wide audience  of probably around 15.000 people from which most have never been in touch with fixed gear racing.”

“The committee which organizes Draai van de Kaai welcomed some younger, fresh faces. They started thinking about how they could make their event more attractive and ready to face the future. As we all know (or should know) the winners of these post-TDF criteriums are known before the start. It’s just a big show, no real competitive cycling race. That’s a major thing they wanted to change this year. By organizing a real competitive elite/pro men’s race AND by asking NL Crit Series to organize a fixed gear race.”

“Good thing is/was the idea/initiative already came from within the organisation itself. That made it easy to position our race just in between the elite/pro women’s criteriums (which is very popular during Draai vd Kaai) and the elite men’s race. Just what we wanted to reach as much spectators as possible. We spoke to other organizers of likewise events as well, but those were hesitant to place our race as one of the main races in their programme.”

“the initial contact was made with help of the Dutch Cycling Union (KNWU). At the beginning of the year I was talking to the director about fixed gear racing and our series. When a few weeks later the organizers of Draai van de Kaai asked him what other/new discipline could be interesting for them, he immediately thought about NL Crit Series and voilá.”

On the main goal for NL Crit Series to organise the race Jan-Willem answers “to present ourselves and our sport to a wider audience in The Netherlands and to the foreign competitors who never did a race with us. In the slipstream our aim is to attract the attention of potential competitors, potential sponsors and media. All with the bigger goal to raise the overall level and attention of fixed gear racing in The Netherlands, so we are able to have even more big events next year.”

Photo by Merlijn Sprenkelink

For the riders, the track will be long but pretty technical “it’s a pretty long course, 1,6km consisting for about 70% out of bricks. Start/finish is on the ‘Kade’ in downtown Roosendaal where it’s packed with spectators. The first half of the course features some challenging and tight corners. Just halfway two ‘S’ corners, which can be taken pretty fast, mark a turning point. The second part of the course to the finish line is flat out.”

For the spectators that are new to fixed gear crit racing Jan-Willem is positive that the race will make then enthusiastic about it as it will be “a real, competitive bike race with the highest level of competitors possible. Our experience is, spectators who are not familiar with fixed gear racing fall in love with it instantly. Not only because of the exciting, spectacular races but also because of the atmosphere and good vibes the fixed gear riders bring.”

Allesandro Mariani will be present too. Photo:

Although the fixed gear crits are not about the prizes, NL Crit Series tries not to let the winner go home empty handed “We are working hard on that part at the moment. For sure, the winner will get a Red Hook Crit x FFWD wheel set. Besides that we got a bit of extra prize money available. Not to forget the á BLOC podium beers, our artistic prime envelopes and our famous wooden medals. More to come…”

Last but not least, “Because we want this crit to be one of the highest levels and to present us at the best way possible to a large crowd, we’ve send all possible competitors a personal email with an invitation to compete including a personal ticket code. To all riders who didn’t get this: check your email and spambox or drop us a message at

Photo by Merlijn Sprenkelink