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28-01-2022 | Herman Nekkers

Rotterdam Cycling Festival, 3 days of cycling including a gran fondo

From 15 to 17 July, Rotterdam will be completely dedicated to cycling. The Rotterdam Cycling Festival will be one big cycling party with, among others, the cyclosportive race L'Etape Rotterdam by Tour de France, various tours and a new international women's criterium at a very special location.

Last Thursday was the press meeting of this new event and I was a guest on behalf of CycloWorld. At RTV Rijnmond in Rotterdam, I saw how the video was recorded in which the event presentes itself. Host Bart Nolles, known from the Dutch TV program Tour du Jour, talked about it with playful ease. From the world of cycling, Erik Breukink and Michael Zijlaard were the guests. The well-known former volleyball player Peter Blangé was present in his current position as director of Rotterdam Topsport. Afterwards, I spoke with these people and also with Leon Brouwer, the driving force behind the event. Among other things about the state of the organization, the route, the safety and the concept of the gran fondo.

The video-opnamerecording with Bart Nolles, Erik Breukink, Leonore Tuijt (director Erasmus MC Foundation) ann Michael Zijlaard. 

Why the Rotterdam Cycling Festival?

Rotterdam has been working for some time to get the Tour start, le Grand Départ, in 2025. The last time was in 2010. Whether it will happen again is always to be seen, but all the people I spoke to were full of confidence. Both the former athletes and the people from the municipality.

The bid was already handed over to the Tour organisation last year. And now they are busy, in Blangé's words, "working hard to get the Tour start well on the radar". As part of this, the Rotterdam Cycling Festival has emerged.

The only gran fondo in the Netherlands

The Rotterdam Cycling Festival organises the only gran fondo in the Netherlands named L'Etape Rotterdam by Tour de France. It is part of the famous L'Etape gran fondo series organized by the ASO. This is a guarantee for a high quality level. The CycloWorld team is of course very pleased that finally a cyclo is organised in our own country.

It promises to be a spectacle:

  • It is completely car-free.
  • The route largely follows the envisaged Tour route of 2025.
  • Around Delft there are about 3 kilometres of gravel strips.
  • It is the only cyclo in the Netherlands.

Furthermore, it has everything a gran fondo should have: collective start, timekeeping, a signposted route and rankings per category.

The organisation is aiming for at least 1000 participants. The route is 135 km long and almost completely flat. We estimate that most participants will finish with an average of around 40 km/h or faster. How cool is that? This means that the highest demands must be made on safety. Fortunately, they are aware of this and the entire route is car-free.

The route runs through the Metropole Region Rotterdam Den Haag. The exact route will be announced soon.

Saturday 16 July is the day, so make a note of it in your diary. Of course you can expect an action of CycloWorld. Keep an eye on the website.

Not a gran fondo only

But the Rotterdam Cycling Festival is more than that. There is also a tour ride with various distances: 120 km, 105 km and 80 km. This event is linked to a charity: raising as much money as possible for the Maak Kanker Kansloos campaign (make cancer without chance).

On Sunday 17 July there is another first: a new international women's cycling race at a very special location. Rotterdam The Hague Airport has the intention to make the airport available for a short period of time for this race.

And of course, the festival is not complete without entertainment. The festival location on the site of RWC Ahoy along the runway of Rotterdam The Hague Airport is decorated like a French village festival, with long tables, food and drink and live music from famous artists. In the Tour de France café you can watch the Tour de France (which is going on at that moment) and in the Tour de France museum you can learn everything about the rich history of the biggest cycling event in the world.

The complete press release with all information can be found here here (in Dutch).

Afterwards, have a chat. Herman Nekkers, Erik Breukink and Michael Zijlaard.

Video: Rotterdam Cycling Festival presentation

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