I know where I'll be on August 29th and 30th next year...
Our local paper has revealed the route of the first stage of next year's Vuelta a Espana (the cycle racing tour of Spain). The Vuelta has only once before started outside Spain: in 1997 the start was in Lisbon in Portugal. However, the chosen starting place next year is right here in Assen.
On the 29th the riders will start with a prologue on Assen's motorbike TT circuit.
On the 30th they'll race the first stage, 201 km long through Drenthe. The start will be in Assen the route goes south to Hoogeveen turning North East and returning to Assen from the East through Grolloo and Rolde, then North as far as Groningen Eelde airport and back south to Assen, before going South East again to end the day at Emmen.
It's quite a ride. The route will no doubt be planned to take in some of the Paris-Roubaix style pave we've got hidden in the countryside here.
Addy Engels, a local rider who has raced in the Giro d'Italia six times, the Vuelta four times and the Tour de France once is hoping to win the stage on his home soil in Drenthe next year. I wish him the best of luck. Dutch riders have twice won the Vuelta overall.
There is also to be a touring version of the Vuelta in Drenthe. Further details will follow.
This isn't the only racing event in this area next year. We also have the Jeugdtour, the tour of Drenthe, the Erik Dekker Classic, the Triathlon...
I must have mentioned before that cycle racing is popular in this part of the world ? I may even be tempted out to have another go myself.
If you are interested in a cycling holiday to coincide with the Vuelta, please get in touch. Act soon as places will book very quickly.
There's a later post showing a map of the route.