The post-Tour criteriums are an integral part of 'winding' down after an intense three weeks of Tour de France racing. The series allows spectators to see their heroes up close and the Tour de France riders a chance to make some money as the prize money won in the Tour is usually divided up among the team, including staff. A lot of the races are in Holland and Belgium and traditionally the events start in Boxmeer, Netherlands, one day after the Tour is over.
Yesterday's race in Boxmeer had King of the mountain, Mauricio Soler of Barloworld, and his teammate, South African sprinter Robert Hunter, in the line-up. But it was Dutch darling Michael Boogerd of Rabobank who took the win in his last season as a professional, in front of Soler. Steven de Jongh (Quick.Step Innergetic) got third.
In Aalst, Belgium, things were slightly less traditional as Danilo Di Luca took the win. He had not been racing in the Tour de France and no doubt had fresher legs. He edged out Belgians Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel) and Gert Steegmans (Quickstep-Innergetic).
And in Ratingen, Germany, it was Gerald Ciolek of T-Mobile who gave his country a win in front of 18,000 people. The 64 laps on the 1.2-kilometre long, spectator friendly course added up to a total of 80 kilometres of racing and in the end it was Ciolek who held off Christian Knees of Milram and Fränk Schleck of CSC. Jens Voigt finished in sixth place, while Erik Zabel ended the race in the main field.