Post Tour crits rosters

Italy's Danilo Di Luca, winner of the Giro d'Italia, took victory in the first post-Tour de France...

Italy's Danilo Di Luca, winner of the Giro d'Italia, took victory in the first post-Tour de France criterium in Belgium on Monday in the town of Aalst, edging out current Belgian champion Stijn Devolder in a sprint. The weeks following the Tour are always packed full of criteriums, with fans in Belgium and Holland, the traditional home of the post-Tour crits, coming out in their tens- and some times even hundreds-of-thousands. That was the case in Germany in 1997, the year Jan Ulrich won the Tour, when over 500,000 spectators turned up to the German take part in a 'local' criterium.

For places like Holland and Belgium, where cycling is an imbedded part of the culture, the criteriums are seen as a return to the grass-roots for the riders. Typically junior riders begin their careers in 'races around the church' so to see the biggest professionals come back to race these races is a spectacle for the fans. For the riders, it is always good for their popularity to come back to their home country and meet their fans; of course the hundreds of thousands of Euros in start money on offer doesn't hurt either.

The criteriums begin immediately after the Tour, with some riders effectively racing each day for over four weeks. It is widely known that most of these criteriums are fixed; the winner is determined before the start and the races are ridden to a formula, with riders being told that they may 'attack' but they may only be allowed to spend a certain time off the front before being brought so that the favourite can come to the front and take the win. The year that Marco Pantani won the Tour he also won a post Tour criterium held in Holland, by out sprinting a very well known sprinter, who was seen in the first week of the same Tour fighting for the green jersey.

Post tour criteriums agenda and the riders attending:
Monday, July 30 - Boxmeer (Ned): Mauricio Soler (Col), Robert Hunter (RSA), Thomas Dekker (Ned), Michael Boogerd (Ned), Bram de Groot (Ned), Bram Tankink (Ned), Pieter Weening (Ned), Steven de Jongh (Ned), Stef Clement(Ned) and Koos Moerenhout (Ned).

Tuesday, July 31 - Stiphout (Ned): Alberto Contador (Spa), Mauricio Soler (Col), Fabian Cancellara (Zwi), Thomas Dekker (Ned), Pieter Weening (Ned), Bram de Groot (Ned), Steven de Jongh (Ned), Bram Tankink (Ned), Stef Clement (Ned).

Tuesday, July 31 - Diksmuide (Bel): Danilo di Luca (Ita), Tom Boonen (Bel), Gert Steegmans (Bel), Stijn Devolder (Bel) en Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel).

Wednesday, August 1 - Chaam (Ned): Mauricio Soler (Col), Michael Boogerd (Ned), Thomas Dekker (Ned), Bram de Groot (Ned), Steven de Jongh (Ned), Bram Tankink (Ned), Theo Bos (Ned), Michiel Elijzen (Ned), Matthieu Heijboer (Ned), Robert Gesink (Ned), Koen de Kort (Ned) and Bart Wellens (Bel).

Thursday, August 2 - Wateringen (Ned): Mauricio Soler (Col), Stef Clement (Ned), Michael Boogerd (Ned), Thomas Dekker (Ned), Bram de Groot (Ned), Pieter Weening (Ned), Steven de Jongh (Ned), Koen de Kort (Ned), Karsten Kroon (Ned), Theo Bos (Ned), Michiel Elijzen (Ned), Matthieu Heijboer (Ned) and Richard Groenendaal (Ned).

Friday, August 3 - Heerlen (Ned): Thomas Dekker (Ned), Bram de Groot (Ned), Steven de Jongh (Ned) and Koos Moerenhout (Ned).

Saturday, August 4 - Steenwijk (Ned): Gert Steegmans (Bel), Michael Boogerd (Ned), Thomas Dekker (Ned), Pieter Weening (Ned) and Bram de Groot (Ned).

Monday, August 6 - Roosendaal (Ned): Alberto Contador (Ned), Michael Boogerd (Ned), Koos Moerenhout (Ned) and Theo Bos (Ned).

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