HOMEBOY Belgium: Post Tour Crit’in
July’s Tour de France inundation is finally over. Lance has gone on to produce an amazing and record-breaking 6th victory in the Tour and the sudden drop in cycling coverage leaves cycling fans across Europe wanting more. Enter the Post-Tour Criterium.
After the long miles of gallivanting across Europe the last thing you would think a Tour de France rider would want to do is ride a bike, but the plethora of Post-Tour Criteriums attracts top level riders and provides a chance for the fans to see their favorite riders up close and personal.
I recently had the opportunity to race the Profronde Criterium in Heerlen, Holland. The whole race was one huge festival and party. Upon arrival and making our way to the riders changing rooms we went through the pre-race gathering of sponsors and VIP’s full with security guys with little ear pieces at the gate. This isn’t my average Kermesse race!
The race was only 80 kilometers long and with 42 starters, the most notable were Green jersey winner Robbie McEwen and fellow sprinter rival Thor Hushovd of Norway. While getting my number for registration I was signing my name to the start list as camera flashes started to go off in a flurry of flashes. I was like, “Why all this fuss for me?” only to look over to see Robbie McEwen next to me in line. Oh well, maybe in a couple years…
On the start line the show kept going on with many beautiful podium girls and introductions to all the big starts of the race. As the introductions and interviews went on all the riders were given a bouquet of flowers. I thought to myself, “Cool, I got flowers finally, but not for winning a race.” The for some reason I ended up with a second bouquet of flowers, which I didn’t complain because now I got to give them to two nice young Dutch girls in the crowd of 40,000 plus spectators.
The race was over a nice 1.4 kilometer course that was lined the whole way with fans. The backside of the course went through what I can only imagine to be a pedestrian walking area complete with slightly raised brick circles you needed to avoid each lap. Of course at the same place there was a big stage set up with a band (or maybe two bands, as I really wasn’t watching to closely at the time) to entertain the crowd through out the whole race.
I even got to do a little one lap breakaway early in the race with a Rabobank rider. Not since racing the Race for the Rose’s Criterium (part of the first Ride for Roses weekend in Austin, Texas) have I been able to race in front of such an incredible number of enthusiastic fans. The race ended with a small 8 man breakaway and me finishing in the field.
Race finished at about 11pm, arrival back home at 2am, rise at 7:30am and leave for 7 hours drive to France the next day. Ahh, the life of a professional, wouldn’t have it any other way. Till next month, keep the rubber side down.
Gregg Germer is now in his third year in Belgium and is racing professionally with the Flanders-Afincom cycling team out of Oudenaarde, Belgium. Between races and training he likes to spend his time consuming mass quantities of coffee, watching movies, reading and doing website design in addition to his writing articles.
You can always find out more information about Gregg and see more photos of his journeys and travel by visiting his website at: CyclingLinks.com/gregg
and he always welcomes e-mails at [email protected].
You can also directly help Gregg in his quest in Europe by buying from his internet shop VeloStuff.net.
And now some sponsor name dropping: