The Tour de France 2016 is over now and traditionally that means that criteriums (or crits) are being raced. As usual the first one is in Boxmeer, that was Monday immediately after the last stage of the Tour. A day later the second race was held in the north of the Netherlands: Surhuisterveen and as that was close and I finally was in a position to go, I went. It was also the only one that Chris Froome would do (that will be because of preparation of the Olympics I think).
Criteriums are often run in villages, have a total length of less then a 100km over a track of 2 to 3 km. A nickname for the race is ’rounds around the church’ as the short rounds in the villages are often quite literally going around the central church.
In Surhuisterveen it really is a round around the Church. The course is mainly a few left-turning corners. Not very challenging then, but the atmosphere in the audience is great and the fences around the track are all filled with spectators. During the day several other races for youth and elite were raced, several commercial caravans paraded over the course and a cycling ‘marching band’ and at seven in the evening we’re all ready for the race. I saw a bunch of celebs (more or less) passing the track to witness the event and after an introductionary round of the two main riders Chris Froome and Bauke Mollema the race was off.
Besides Froome and Mollema there were some other big names form the Dutch cycling world: Lieuwe Westra, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Ramon Sinkeldam en Dutch champion Dylan Groenewegen.
During the criterium there are several prizes to be won for short sprints and Mollema and Froome were kind enough to not take them all :) At times there were escapes by soloists or groups and then after a while the whole bunch got together again. However at the end of Froome made his escape and of course won the race with Mollema a good second (he’d already won Boxmeer, so it’s only fair I guess).
The criteriums aren’t the most challenging races for the cyclists, but they are a lof of fun and how often do you get a chance to see Froome in pass by in action 50 times (of more).
I just wish that the local announcer didn’t yell ‘Froomie’ in that horrible Dutch way all the time, that got annoying really quick.
Had some trouble getting the Canon 1DmkIII to focus as I wanted to -especially when it started to get a bit darker- so I’m not fully happy with the results. The X-Pro2 was no match however, that’s totally not in it’s element with these races.