Tuesday 9 March 2010

Star of Zwolle

On the 6th of March, the 50th edition of the Ster van Zwolle race was held a few km south of here. 29 teams of 6 riders raced 170 km a few km south of here. I'm not sure what the temperature was on the day, but it certainly wasn't warm (it's -6 C now and it has snowed lightly over the last few days, though thankfully Saturday wasn't the coldest day).

Our local TV station put this clip on youtube, showing the 20 year old Assenaar Bert-Jan Lindeman winning the race at an average of 40.8 km/h. Fantastic. Well done !

Note that he's riding a Gazelle. This is a very famous Dutch bicycle manufacturer, who make a great variety of bikes, and not just the sit-up bicycles they're perhaps most famous for around the world these days.

I worked at the ligfietsgarage on Saturday, but really ought to make an effort to see more of the many racing events held around here each year. Cycle racing is incredibly popular here, both to take part in and as an event to watch.


Anonymous said...


I was wondering if, in the Netherlands, more 'normal' people are interested in cycle races such as this as they feel they can connect more with the cyclists?

Here in Australia cycling is seen more of an extreme sport, by the participants and the spectators, and it seems to only interest a certain group. This is what cycling has distilled down to here.

I think it is wonderful to see a healthy sport aspect to cycling in the Netherlands. You really can have it both ways.

Ironically, in Australia, most cyclists do not support special bicycle infrastructure and they see people using bicycles for transport as a threat which must be contained. There is surprisingly great opposition from cyclists. Most of these cyclists insist on cycling on the roads in large groups (20+), closely packed, doing nothing to encourage a car driver to join them and sometimes being overtly agressive!

In some ways I prefer them to be there as such a large group on a cycle path is dangerous for pedestrians and other cyclists.

Bike paths here are often invisible - being in the back scenery - so drivers don't see 'normal' people cycling which is a pity.

I choose not to wear a helmet here despite it being illegal for me to do so and guess which group is the most vocal about that? These 'sport' cyclists (who, incidentally often only go out once per week and don't look that fit!) are the one's that make a scene about me being helmetless. Nobody else seems to care! I'd love to stop them to find out what *exactly* bothers them about it but I'm afraid they might just hit me.

I think many of these cyclists feel threatened by 'normal' people cycling and blocking their way in much the same way that these macho types are afraid of a gay man in case it rubs off on them (it probably would do some good!).


Dr Paul Martin

David Hembrow said...

Paul, competitive cycling is vastly more popular here than any other place I've ever lived. The popularity is reflected in the racing results. NL has far more tour de france stage winners than you'd expect given the population size. The Netherlands has a smaller population than Australia, but the Dutch have produced 61 winners vs. just 8 from Australia, 6 from England and 10 from Australia.

Only Belgium really seriously outperforms NL. They've produced no less than 151 winners. Amusingly, one of last years stories over here was that people in the southern Dutch province of Zeeland were getting a bit annoyed with Belgian cycle racers riding across the border to speed around on their cycle paths (which are better quality than those over the border).