The morning after the sportive/funeral march version of Amstel Gold, the pro peloton showed us how it was supposed to be done. As is often the case with my trips, I hadn't even bothered to research where this race was meant to start, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was at (in?) Markt, around a 20 min walk from the hotel.
After a little mulling about in the packed square, Shoko and I walked up to the bridge and waited.
Middle. I think that's eventual winner, Gilbert, over there.
And the end. This is the same position we saw Voekler take at the beginning of Paris-Nice in March. Not the most sociable cat...
As the pros made money on the road, we spent it, doing some tourism in town. Then, after lunch, we drove as close as we could get to the same finish line I crossed the day before...and bought some beer.
Then drank it. I don't know where I got that helmet-head from. Maybe it's a permanent feature now. The location we chose was right at the finish line and we had that big screen in the background to watch the last 75 km of the race.
After the race was done we walked by all the buses on the way to the car, passing by a lonely Tommy again, this time being interviewed by a sole French journalist.
Teammate Yukiya Arashiro had his very own compatriot press corps. He finished a respectable 10th on the day.
Trying to impress him with my Japanese (he understood me, which is all I can ask), I asked for a photo and had a short chat. He says he's the 'old man' on the team. At 29 that's more than a little depressing.
Near the end of our walk we passed by the Astana bus: possibly the only team that has a GM who is more popular than his riders.
Ironically, this room was steps away from Vino.
This was the first time I had done a sportive-professional race combo (although I nearly did way back in 2011) and I think it's a great excuse for a short vacation, especially if the town you stay in has enough museums to keep your wife occupied. I'll be doing again.