The Tour de France 2015 is to start in the Dutch town of Utrecht, the organisers of the world’s biggest cycling race announced on Friday. The mayor of Utrecht, Aleid Wolfsen, is extremely happy: “It is good for the Netherlands, good for the city and region and good for the sport. It will be a fantastic feast.” The official presentation will follow on 28 November.
Oude Gracht in Utrecht. Photo © Holland-Cycling.com
Utrecht deserves to host the Grand Départ. “Utrecht is a city that lives with the bike. A university city. A city that is really suited for the Tour,” says Tour Director Christian Prudhomme. With a quarter of the daily journeys in and around the town made by bike, Utrecht is an excellent example of how improving the infrastructure for bikes pays off.
Between 800,000 and one million visitors are expected to come to Utrecht for the event. Due to its central location, Utrecht is a good starting point if you want to combine the Tour with some cycling of your own. There are three national long-distance routes that go through Utrecht (LF4, LF7 and LF9) and there are many day trips within easy reach.
It’s the sixth time the Tour de France will be starting in the Netherlands. In 1954 Amsterdam was the first city to host the Grand Départ. Later it was hosted by Scheveningen (1973), Leiden (1978), Den Bosch (1996) and Rotterdam (2010).