Peter Sagan and Geraint Thomas join lucrative post-Tour crit circuit

Sagan already winning in Aalst; Thomas in action in the Netherlands on Tuesday

As soon as the celebrations of having completed another Tour de France have wrapped up in Paris, weary star riders begin their treks to the lucrative post-Tour criteriums, held in towns and villages across France, the Netherlands and Belgium, in particular.

The Tour stars – with the jersey winners often racing in their yellow, green, white or polka-dot uniforms – command handsome appearance fees, and it's all the better if such financial incentives allow them to win the circuit race, or at least appear on the podium alongside any local pros.

For some years now, the criterium races have become a greatly anticipated spectacle in the towns and villages of the more traditional cycling nations of Europe during what is an otherwise depressing week that follows the excitement of three weeks of the Tour de France.

Local elite riders join up with some of the sport's biggest names for a number of high-speed laps of a closed street circuit, and spectators happily pay for the privilege of watching the same riders who have illuminated their TV screen during the previous weeks, hoping for an autograph and a picture to finish their evening.

While the Tour ended in Paris on Sunday, by Monday evening, green-jersey winner Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) was already enjoying a huge, well-deserved glass of local beer on top of the podium in the city of Aalst in Belgium, halfway between Ghent and Brussels, having put his crash during the final week of the Tour well behind him.

According to Het Nieuwsblad, Sagan was also set to appear at the Roeselare crit in West Flanders on Tuesday night, alongside Quick-Step's Niki Terpstra, followed by the Herentals crit, near Antwerp, on Thursday, where Belgian national champion Yves Lampaert and Dutch national champion (and 2015 cycle-cross world champion) Mathieu van der Poel will also feature.

Meanwhile, 2018 Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas was set to appear, no doubt in yellow, at the Profronde van Surhuisterveen criterium in the north of the Netherlands on Tuesday evening.

This was in fact set to be the Team Sky rider's only criterium appearance; Het Nieuwsblad suggests that the presence of Sagan at a number of the Belgian events means that the organisers can't afford Thomas as well, with the going rate this year to secure a rider of Sagan's calibre reported to be around €60,000 (£53,500/US$70,000).

Spectators gladly pay to see the world's best bike riders, who in turn receive a nice pay-cheque, and the organisers take their percentage. Local shopkeepers and hoteliers benefit, too, and everyone goes away happy, already looking forward to the following year.

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