This Sunday the theme of the day was cycling, as the 44th edition of the Monaco Cycling Criterium – Paco Alonso Trophy took place, topping off an athletic month in the Principality. Around 150 cyclists of all ages signed up to take part in the racing event that loops around the Port Hercule.
The Cycling Races day is organized annually by the Monegasque Cycling Federation, the national governing body of bikeracing in the Principality of Monaco that was officially created in 1952. Before that, the club still existed but was not an individual entity, being grouped together with the A.S. Monaco Football Club that was founded in 1924. Over the course of the last few years many cyclists, including some very high skilled racers, joined the club adding their unique personalities to the team.
The day consists of various races that are carried out on the port segment of the renowned F1 track. The circuit consists of a 1.3 km lap that surrounds the main port of Monaco and, fluctuating according to each race, the lap is repeated a number of times before the participants reach the relieving finish line. There are about 8 organized races that start at different times in the day, where cyclists complete 1 to 50 laps depending on their racing groups that include children, junior and adult teams with men and women competing together. There were two prize giving’s throughout the day this year; one at 12:30 pm dedicated to the morning races and another at 17:30 pm for the afternoon races.
The motivation behind the race day is to compete; the participants take part not for a charity or an organisation, but for themselves, to test their abilities and showcase the skills earned from months or years of training. It is an opportunity for those who are members of cycling clubs to race against their teammates and aim to beat their previous times. Friends and family of the cyclists got involved as well, cheering the groups on as they sped round the track and particularly as they reached the ascent segment by Le Botticelli Restaurant, creating a friendly atmosphere of sportsmanship.
Amongst the participants were many young cyclists that competed in the junior races, cadet members of the MCC (Monaco Cycling Club) who had the opportunity to pit themselves against other teams from the region and demonstrate their skill and passion for the sport. Their endurance in the races was surprising to watch, as well as that of the competing adults, all cyclist breaking into a frantic sprint in their last lap as the last adrenaline boost kicked in to fight for the best time.
The elite division gave the most exemplary high-intensity cycling performance – the speed at which they whizzed round the track was beyond impressive. The moment they crossed the start line they seemed to be back within seconds, grabbing the attention of not only those who came to watch but also passers-by who remained transfixed on the rapidity of the cyclists. Even the youngest participants were astonishingly quick at completing each lap, clearly demonstrating the skill and talent developed at their respective clubs.
Since last year, the NiteRace has been a new edition to the cycling day; organised by the group LikeBike, it introduces a unique race with a fun format and simple rules. It is a fun-filled event that allows riders of all different levels to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to race on the closed Grand Prix circuit, and was unsurprisingly a huge success this year as well. The race is a relay criterium and consists of teams of 2 riders who take turns to do 3 laps around the designated circuit for a total of 5 sessions each, so around 20km of racing per rider. The route is illuminated and the cyclists are encouraged to wear bright colourful clothes and decorate their bikes, to ensure better visibility and above all create a remarkable spectacle for all to enjoy.
The Monaco Cycling Criterium is a must-see for cycling enthusiasts of the whole region; each year promises a fun-filled day of thrilling races, welcoming people of all ages and fitness levels to celebrate cycling.