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Most cycling fans will be familiar with the post-Tour crits, exciting (but manufactured) events where thousands of fans get the opportunity to see the heroes of the road just days after finishing the Tour de France. These races offer lucrative start money and popular winners — the results are fixed beforehand so the big names cross the line first. But things don’t always go to plan.
On July 27, at the Tour de Neuss in Germany, young local rider Dominik Bauer took the biggest win of his life where he outsprinted some of the best pros in the world. Here’s how the race unfolded (based on accounts from several local media outlets):
Dominik Bauer (RSC Rheinbach), the 18-year-old cycling talent from Rosellerheide stole the night before more than 10,000 spectators at the 15th edition of Tour de Neuss. Around 50 professionals from the highest German level raced on the 80 laps of the street circuit starting and finishing at the Kaiser-Friedrich-Str.
Despite all their success, sprinters like Andre Greipel and John Degenkolb, or Tony Martin were unable to catch Bauer in a thrilling finale. In the last lap Dominik Bauer bravely bridged from the main bunch to the breakaway who had a slender advantage.
Bauer saluted to his heart with both hands in the air as he took to the last of the 80 laps and secured his win against Nikias Arndt (Team Giant-Alpecin), Emanuel Buchmann (Team Bora-Argon 18), and Fränk Schleck (Trek-Segafredo).
“A coup!”, the experienced presenter Christian Stoll said as he almost lost his breath. “This is the biggest sensation in the Tour de Neuss!” he aptly shouted as Bauer crossed the line.
After defeating the seasoned professionals, Bauer was quite surprised that he had not been captured and was a surprise winner. “I felt good. I tried alone — it was a spur of the moment [decision].”
Of course, it wasn’t supposed to work out this way. Nikias Arndt was slated to be the winner, ahead of Fränk Schleck and then Emanuel Buchmann. They were meant to break away and have a small bunch kick for the win, while a star-studded field ‘tried’ to chase them down. But 18-year-old Bauer obviously didn’t get the message.
Roughly 30 minutes before each post-Tour crit there is a rider briefing where race organisers will tell the riders what’s going to happen in the race. Everything from who will win the race and who will make the podium to who wins the primes and who breaks away. The riders will even be told to pedal in easier gears to make it look like they’re going faster.
CyclingTips spoke to some of the riders who took part in the race (who preferred not to be named) and told us that one of two things may have happened:
1. Bauer missed the rider briefing and didn’t realise the race was set up (sometimes the amateurs aren’t included in the briefings as the organisers don’t worry about them)
2. Bauer got excited by the spectacle and the crowd and decided to have a crack even though he knew Arndt was supposed to win.
The majority of riders in the post-Tour crits are paid to ride: €250 (AU$370; US$280) for Continental-level riders, €400 (AU$590; US$450) for Pro Continental riders and starting at €800 (AU$1,180; US$900) for WorldTour riders.
Tour de France winner Chris Froome was reportedly paid €35,000 (AU$51,600; US$39,200) to race last week at the Aalst post-Tour crit in Belgium (which he ‘won’ ahead of Greg Van Avermaet and Rafal Majka) 24 hours after crossing the line on the Champs-Élysées. It’s rumoured that Lance Armstrong once received €100,000 (AU$147,500; US$112,000) to attend a post-Tour crit, apparently the highest pay packet ever for such a race.
Bauer wouldn’t have been paid to take part in the race as he is a local amateur rider.
It’s unclear if there will be any repercussions from the race organiser or if this will harm Bauer’s career in any way. Perhaps it’s such a rare occurrence that the organisers are simply willing to laugh it off.
CyclingTips has tried to contact Dominik Bauer and the race organiser but at the time of writing we haven’t heard back.
My thoughts? Good on Dominik for having a go!
If you are in contact with Dominik Bauer, please let us know via email. We’d love to hear the story from his perspective!