Brief:It was a warm night in Maastricht and as usual thousands of specators crowded around the Vrijthof (central square) to watch the start and finish. The race wound round the inner streets of Maastricht first turning left into Bredestraat, through Onze Lieve Plein, left into Het Bat and along the Maas via Kesselkade and Hoenderstraat, before circling the Market Square and the old city building, left then right into the Grote Gracht, then left, up the only minor rise and back along the Vrijthof to the finish line.
The night started with a Dernykoers and the only things that I noted was that the legendary Bruno Walrave was the gangmaker for the second-placed rider.
You either like these type of events or you don't. The bike racing is rather predictable. Each of the big-names in the fields attacks and stays away for a few laps. The lesser lights sit in the bunch and hang on as the tempo gets quicker and quicker. The audience had a favourite and he won the event. A large number hardly gave any attention to the racing. The local restaurants and cafes (bars) did a roaring trade and for probably most people the party - the event - was the reason to be out. This is holiday time and the bands and social interaction is what makes these events special to the locals.
The event is sponsored by what was once the local brewery (now part of a multinational company) and plenty of the product was consumed.
The final sprint was very exciting and Leon Van Bon just pipped out Swede Magnus Backstedt. The most consistent sprinter throughout the evening though was Australia's Robbie McEwen who won the aggregate premie sprint prize.
For some photos.
Maastricht, 50 laps for 100 kms:
1. Leon Van Bon (Ned) Rabobank 2.18.01 2. Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Credit Agricole 3. Sergie Utchakov (Ukr) TVM s.t. 4. Erwin Thijs (Bel) Vlaanderen 2002 5. Patrick Jonker (Aus) Rabobank
Starting ListRabobank - Leon Van Bon (Ned), Aart Vierhouten (Ned), Patrick Jonker (Aus), Mark Lotz (Ned), Robbie McEwen (Aus), Johan Bruinsma (Ned).
TVM - Bart Voskamp (Ned), Steven de Jongh (Ned), Johan Capiot (Bel), Sergei Utchakov (Ukr).
Credit Agricole - Magnus Backstedt (Swe)
Piels - John Talen (Ned).
MGI - John van den Akker (Ned).
Gerolsteiner - Raymond Meijs (Ned), Frank Ackermans (Ned), Frank Klein (Ger), Ralf Grabsch (Ger).
Navigators (Plymouth) - Patrick Eyk (Ned).
Rietveld - Wim Veldkamp (Ned).
Vlaanderen 2002 - Erwin Thijs (Bel), Johan Verstrepen (Bel), Koen Gerits (Bel), Kurt van Lancker (Bel).
Tonnisteiner - Jaan Hordijk (Ned), Kees Hopmans (Ned).
Team Nurnberger - Christian van Dartel (Ned), Mark van Steen (Ned).
Spar-RDM - Michele Cornelisse (Ned).
VKS Empella - Wim de Vos (Ned), Erik Boezwinkel (Ned).
1985: 1. Joop Zoetemelk (Ned) 2. Ad Wijnands (Ned) 3. Johan Lammerts (Ned) 1986: 1. Jelle Nijdam (Ned) 2. Gerard Veldscholten (Ned) 3. Nico Verhoeven (Ned) 1987: 1. Wim Arras (Bel) 2. J.P. van Poppel (Ned) 3. Jan Nevens (Bel) 1988: 1. Mathieu Hermans (Ned) 2. Gerrit Solleveld (Ned) 3. Peter Harings (Ned) 1989: 1. Theo de Rooy (Ned) 2. Nico Verhoeven (Ned) 3. Maarten Ducrot (Ned) 1990: 1. Ad Wijnands (Ned) 2. Henri Manders (Ned) 3. Gerrit Solleveld (Ned) 1991: 1. P. Stevenhaagen (Ned) 2. Frans Maassen (Ned) 3. Danny Nelissen (Ned) 1992: 1. Frans Maassen (Ned) 2. Claudio Chiapucci (Ita) 3. Danny Nelissen (Ned) 1993: 1. Ad Wijnands (Ned) 2. Wilfried Nelissen (Bel) 3. P. Stroucken (Ned) 1994: 1. Wilfried Nelissen (Ned) 2. Johan Capiot (Bel) 3. Raymond Meys (Ned) 1995: 1. Adri van der Poel (Ned) 2. Erik Dekker (Ned) 3. Raymond Meys (Ned) 1996: 1. Danny Nelissen (Ned) 2. Patrick Jonker (Aus) 3. Raymond Meys (Ned) 1997: 1. Erik Zabel (Ger) 2. Danny Nelissen (Ned) 3. W. de Vries (Ned)