Every year the tour returns to a town in Flandern: they call it the Aalst Natour Criterium. For 75th time they managed to attract tour riders, many of them Belgians but also foreign stars:
Alexandro Petacchi, bringing along Danilo Hondo from his sprint train
Carlos Barredo, I guess riding for Quickstep leaves no choice.
You get the big stars basically for free, unless You insist on a 75 € VIP treatment. Big stars from the tour but also local stars locally e.g. Jong Vlaanderen. No reason to worry: Two Euros gets You a start list and a program, the later one basically a summary of all the sponsors, which are mostly smaller local business. Of course there are some bigger partners involved I counted 27 of them plus the official beer Malheur. BTW, the unoffical beer was Jupiler, presented by many empty beer cans.
The so called Malheur effect in photographie
I will restrict my report to the professional race, as I only managed to attend that. The course is 1.6 km long, so the sixty rounds give a total of a hundred kilometres. Even included are some pave look alikes:
The race started with some show off rounds, usually three riders went on attack to the front, e.g. the first one Van Summeren and Stijn Vanderberg, the second one Cancellara and Petacchi...
Rider identified as Van Summeren
As my first film was almost finished I used the time for a bit of sight seeing. Just in time for a SRAM chain action by Cancellera. (In the 90ies top riders had a free wheel choice clause, will we see a free chain/cassette clause in the future?)
Without words but with noise
As the light was getting lower the race was getting hotter, with a long break away of Danilo Hondo. He got caught and a seven riders lead group formed, including Cancellara, Petacchi, Barredo, Van Summeren.
Danilo Hondo solo
Cancellara did his trademark move with three laps to go. Gained some meters...
All riders being fast...
And got it! Second Petacchi, third Barredo. You might have guessed that Aalst has choreo-graphies, it’s the big names winning, but do not get me wrong this is a race and the speed in the second half of the race is pretty high.
..some riders are faster (Petacchi)...
...but Cancellara is the fastest!