Lately, I have been bugging Chris about the Dutch races in the official VDS ranking. To make matters worse, Chris recently started bugging me about the same subject. Therefore I present to you the final showdown of all the good stuff Dutch cycling has to offer. I must admit I’m as new to the subject as most of you. Luckily, the best way to learn something is to explain it. So here it goes.
What do we have?
Name Uci code Started Additional info
Ronde van de Benelux 2.PT 1948 Started as the Ronde van Nederland till 2004
Ster Elektrotoer 2.1 1989 This name since 2001
Delta Tour Zeeland 2.1 2008 Combination of a 1-day race and a weekend
One day races:
Amstel Gold Race 1.PT2 1966 Nick: Amstel Gold Raas in the Raas era (5x)
Dutch Food Valley Classic 1.HC 1985 This name since 2007
Ronde van Drenthe 1.1 1960 Two day event starting 2010
Hel van het Mergelland 1.1 1973 Route similar to AGR
Tour de Rijke 1.1 1996 This name since 2004
Ronde van het Groene Hart 1.1 2007 The green rural heart in urban area
Batavus Prorace 1.1 2004 This name since 2008
ZLM Tour 1.NC 1996 For espoirs
Omloop der Kempen 1.2 1948 For amateurs till 1998
Ronde van Overijssel 1.2 1952 For neoprofs
Ronde van Noord-Holland 1.2 1946 Echelons everywhere!
Arno Wallaard Memorial 1.2 1984 This name since 2007
So which of this great group of races deserve a place in the VDS ranking?
There is no doubt about the Ronde van de Benelux of course (apart from the fact that it hasn’t visited Luxembourg yet). Many big names in the victory list, Wim van Est won the thing twice, that alone should be enough to qualify. Let’s follow the UCI and let all PT and HC races in. Welcome aboard Ronde van de Benelux, Amstel Gold Race (duh) and the strange sounding Dutch Food Valley Classic.
Let’s use the UCI again to set the bar high enough to disqualify all NC and .2 races.
That leaves us with 2 stage races and 5 one day races as candidates.
Let’s have a closer look.
This 5-day stage race organized in June was a Dutch party till Tyler Hamilton came along in 1996. Of the 23 winners 14 were Dutch. But only one in the last 6 years. Last three winners: Phillipe Gilbert, Enrico Gasparotto and Sebastian Langeveld. Attending in 2009: RAB, KAT, SKS, VAC, QST, SAX, MRM, CTT, BAR, LPR, THR.
Delta Tour Zeeland
This 3-day stage race through the province of Sealand is organized in June. It started in 2008 as a combination of the Delta Profronde and the OZ wielerweekeind (cycling weekend). The OZ thingy was a minor event with some young Dutch stars in the ranks of winners. The Profronde was an important race on the other hand. Many big names among the victors: Zabel, McEwen, Knaven, Blijlevens, Planckaert, Solleveld, Raas, Lubberding, Kneteman, Maertens, etc.
Last two winners of DTZ: Farrar and Sutton. Attending in 2009: GRM, LPR, SKS, CTT, SIL, VAC, BAR, RAB.
Final argument in favor of this race is the involvement of mr. cyclinglinks.nl behind the scenes of this race.
Ronde van Drenthe (205 km)
They have cobbles! Nicknamed the Little hell of the north by some. Appropriate because it is held in the same week as PR. Only 4 non-Dutchmen in the long list of winners. Last three winners: Biondi, Vermeltfoort, Maaskant. Attending in 2009: FLM, SKS, VAC, CTT.
Hel van het Mergelland (Hell of the marl area, 190km)
This race is held in April and covers the same ground as the AGR. Nicknamed the pearl of cycling it is a race where talent shows itself. No Dutch winners in the last 9 editions. Last three winners: Finetto, Martin Tony, Sijmens. Attending in 2009: CSF, VAC, RAB, SKS, SIL,MRM.
Tour de Rijke (200 km)
This race around Rotterdam is held in May. Only 4 non-Dutchmen among the winners. The race went right past my home window (literally) without me noticing it last year. A mistake I won’t make no more! Last three winners: van Hummel, de Jongh, Steegmans. Attending in 2009: SKS, SIL, RAB, SAX, VAC, SIL, QST, CSF.