The Three Most Classic Cycling Races in the Netherlands
Everyone is familiar with major international cycling tournaments such as the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España. Large, spectator-driven rides that lead through beautiful mountains and villages. Although the Netherlands is not known for its high mountains, there are plenty of routes with climbs that are perfect for cycling. The Netherlands is full of beautiful landscapes, which makes cycling in our own country very attractive. Since cycling in our country is getting bigger and bigger, it is only logical that many competitions are also held here. We have therefore listed the three most beautiful cycling races for you, from the popular and larger race to smaller races for fanatics.
A Big Favorite; The Amstel Gold Race
It is almost impossible to write about the most classic cycling races in the Netherlands without mentioning the Amstel Gold Race. It is one of the largest and most popular rides in the Netherlands, which also attracts a lot of international attention. This year the Amstel Gold Race starts on April 9, and starts and ends around Valkenburg aan de Geul. There are six different routes of different levels (between 65 kilometers and 240 kilometers), so that both the avid hobbyist and the most experienced riders are faced with a challenge. Groups of friends can also participate, so you can be sure that you are not cycling alone. Please note; the difficulty level for this race is high. If you prefer to encourage other riders, that is of course also allowed.
Amstel Gold Race Routes
There is no shortage of height differences in Limburg. The longest route of the Amstel Gold Race covers no less than 2,960 altimeters, spread over 23 hills. So rest assured that you are not only cycling along polders, nature in Limburg is one of the most beautiful in the Netherlands. Depending on the route you choose, you will drive past the Kruisberg, Bemelerberg, Cauberg, Keutenberg and more. If the weather is good you can expect beautiful views. The difficulty of this race is in addition to the long distance and many climbs, in the sometimes narrow roads and sharp corners. So make sure you are well trained and prepared before signing up for this race.
Course of previous editions
The Amstel Gold Race has been held since 1966. The first stage was over 300 kilometers long, and the winner of that very first edition was the Frenchman Jean Sablinski. Where in the first years of the race the podium was often colored by the flags of the Netherlands and Belgium, it can be seen that since the 1990s the race has also become increasingly popular abroad. Many Italians, Spaniards and Germans have since conquered the podium. The last edition in 2021 was won by the Belgian Wout van Aert, followed by the Brit Thomas Pidcock and the German Maximilian Schachmann. Where the Amstel Gold Race was traditionally for men in the last century, the rise of women in cycling has ensured that an edition for women was organized for the first time in 2001. This was won by Debbie Mansveld, with world champion Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel, and Daniëlla Moonen. The race for women was not held every year, but since 2017 it is back again. In 2021, the race was won by the Dutch Marianne Vos, who, among other things, previously became world champion and Olympic champion in the discipline.
An old acquaintance: The Veenendaal-Veenendaal Classic
As the name suggests, this competition takes place in Veenendaal. The round is also very popular, the race has been organized annually since 1985. The Amstel Gold Race and the Veenendaal-Veenendaal used to be in close contact. The race in Veenendaal was previously organized a few days prior to the Amstel Gold Race. This has changed for a number of years, and in 2022 the race will start on May 20 for men and May 21 for women. The Veenendaal-Veenendaal Classic is a race of 105 kilometers that includes a total of 700 meters of climbing. You don't have to be a professional to register, the competition is basically free for everyone. If cycling 105 kilometers is a bit too much, many events are also organized for the public on Friday and Saturday.
The development of the Veenendaal-Veenendaal Classic
The name of the Veenendaal-Veenendaal Classic has changed a number of times over the years, depending on, for example, where the race was held. For example, the race was called the Arnhem-Veenendaal Classic from 2014 to 2017, because it started in Arnhem at the time. Even longer ago, in 2007, the name of this cycling race was changed to the Dutch food Valley Classic. The reason for this was to provide the Food Valley with more publicity. Since 2018, the Veenendaal-Veenendaal classic is officially back. In 2021, the competition was canceled due to the Covid-19 virus.
Winners of previous editions
In 2022 there will also be a women's edition of the Veenendaal-Veenendaal classic for the second year ever. The first edition was in 2018, but it was not continued in subsequent years. The (so far) only female winner of the race is therefore Annemiek van Vleuten. The winner of the very first edition in 1985 was Joop Zoetemelk. At least two of the three podium places in most editions were for the Dutch, although the last race in 2020 was won by Australian Zakkari Dempster. Belgium follows the Netherlands as the country with the most podium places. This is not very surprising, since most Dutch and Belgians are also riding along.
The Scheldeprijs Cyclo
Actually, the Scheldeprijs is originally a Flemish competition, but in 2022 it will be largely driven in the Netherlands. It is a popular competition that you do not have to be a professional to participate in, but the race is traditionally concluded by a final that is raced by professionals. Three days prior to the race, the World Sprint Championship is held in the same region. The Scheldeprijs starts and ends on April 6.
Cycling along with the Scheldeprijs
You can choose from three different routes to cycle with. The longest is no less than 153 kilometers and runs for the most part in the Netherlands along the Oosterschelde and Westerschelde, the second route is 123 kilometers long and the short route is still quite long at 80 kilometers. All routes start and end in Schoten, Belgium. The furthest point of the route is Yerksele, where mussels are widely advertised in Belgium. Perhaps a good place to encourage the drivers, if you like Flemish conviviality.
Scheldeprijs since 1907
The Scheldeprijs is one of the oldest cycling races in the Netherlands that is still running. In honor of the 100th anniversary, a book has even been published with the highs and lows of the race. Since its foundation, there have been no less than 108 competitions, which were won by a total of 72 cyclists. The last winner was the Belgian Jasper Philipsen. Because the race has been running for so long, a roll of honor has been established of athletes who have won the race more than once. At the top of this list is Marcel Kittel, with no less than 5 victories, the last in 2017. Marc Cavendish succeeds him with three victories, the last in 2011. The third place on the honors list is for Petrus Oliebrand, who won the race in the years 60 won three times.