• Country

Bizarre Trophies of the Pro-Cycling World

By Adam Marsal

Winning money is preferable but professional cyclists can get even more: beer showers, livestock or piles of candies amounting to their body weight. They just have to register for the right race.

A giant beer bottle (E3 BinckBank)

Most races of any kind culminate with a genuine champagne finish but it’s not the case with the E3 BinckBank classic in Belgium (previously known as E3 Harelbeke), which is held annually a week before the Tour of Flanders. As Belgium is well known for its beer production, there could only hardly be a happier ending than one with a shower from the Kwaremont beer bottle. The beverage is named after the Oude Kwaremont, which is one of the cobbled climbings leading up the Kluisberg hill, included in the E3 BinckBank race. The beer’s 6.6 % alcohol content actually exactly corresponds to the incline of the hill.

A piece of rock (Paris-Roubaix)

Winner Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert kisses his trophy. © Profimedia, AFP

Nicknamed Hell of the North, there’s nothing like the Paris-Roubaix race. Both the riders and the bikes suffer from its incredible route surface, proverbially made of nothing else but sharp-edged cobblestones and potholes. Despite being comparable to surgery without anaesthesia or to watching the last series of Game of Thrones, people love it. The reward for the fastest rider on track should remind them of the origin of the treachery: a piece of cobblestone-like local rock of immense size.

Gummy bears (French Road Cycling Cup)

In a period of time from 1994 to 2006, the candy producer Haribo sponsored a season-opening race located close to the Southern-French harbour of Marseille. The first winner of the French Road Cycling Cup series got his bodyweight in Haribo gummy bears. Historical records note that Estonian cyclist Jaan Kirsipuu won this sweet prize three times without indicating what happened to the trophy.

A piglet (Tro-Bro Léon)

Because of 24 sections of dirt, cobblestones, and gravel roads, the Tro-Bro of Brittany is often labelled Le Petit Paris-Roubaix or The Hell of the West. The technically difficult parts are called Ribinoù, which is a Breton word for farm tracks or gravel roads. The event was first held in 1984 as an amateur race, turning professional in 2000. As the track literally runs through farms, it comes as no big surprise that the winner is traditionally given a live piglet. Vegan fighters might protest but according to his own quotation, Sir Winston Churchill would be amazed as he once said: “I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”

A stuffed donkey (Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne)

Bob Jungels of Deceuninck with his trophies. © Profimedia, Zuma Press – Archives

In the past, farmers from the Belgian town of Kuurne used to bring their goods to the nearby markets on donkey backs. These animals played such an important role in the day-to-day life of the people that they became something of a national symbol. Therefore, the sprinters heading for the late-February Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne semi-Classic fight regularly for a stuffed donkey as their symbolic award.