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A castle, yachts, Riviera’s sun and one of the most famous F1 tracks in the world…
What could possibly reunite such exclusive ingredients every last Sunday of March…?
Wherever your guess is going, Monaco is the place, and the F1, Jumping Monte Carlo and Monaco Yacht Show are way off the list.
Well, without the hype and popularity of Red Hook’s Crits, it’s the 44th Monaco Criterium organized yearly by the Union Cycliste de Monaco (UCM).
Keeping the humble pretensions that saw this Monegasque classic being born almost half a century ago, it has however little to envy to the more famous and celebrated Monaco events or even the most prestigious Cycling competitions. Monaco’s Criterium has some key elements that make it unique on its own; a unique track, an all day event, a dream location and gathering people from all ages and origins, elevate this event to one of the biggest celebrations of cycling in the Cote d’Azur.
If this isn't enough cycling glitter for you, the Criterium has a former World Champion and two-times Belgian National winner, Philippe Gilbert, as its honorary guest! In addition to being the UCM's godfather he also comes to encourage his children with their first competitive pedal strokes.
You want some extra glitter? Only one week later, he just won the Tour de Flanders with an epic solo ride at almost 55 km from the finishing line! Bravo!
I have won the race, but it has been a team victory; see his post race comment here (French)
Every race starts with the mesmerizing castle of Monaco in its background, which quickly blurs out with the very fast pace each race has. Contrary to its motorised F1 counterpart, the riders accelerate to the sharpest corner of the circuit to face a grueling climb which seems easy at first, but makes its toll on every contender’s stamina after a few laps. It also becomes judge to divide the good ones from the great ones in the race. The racing gauge quickly goes up again to face the most iconic part of the F1 track, its starting grid, where speeds of up to 60km/h can be attained on a very narrow side of it. Against normal traffic direction, a fast descent is only a glass half full, since the Rascasse corner is the second most tricky of the crit and bears some dangers that can trap the most optimistic ones in the bunch. With just a soft right bend, the final path brings the adrenaline filled cyclists back to the starting line along Monaco’s Port Hercule and its ever-present yachts.
Find out more about this exciting event here and let yourself submerge into the cycling passion with a few more photos below.
Keep riding and always with a helmet!
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