This is a big thing for Rotterdam and while I’m sure the city center will be a nightmare I’m happy that we get the honor this year. This is the fifth time that the Tour de France will begin in the Netherlands, the first time in 1954 in Amsterdam, which was the first time the race started outside the borders of France.
I love that people all over the world will see our city and maybe stop to think for a moment that there is more to the Netherlands than just Amsterdam.
Today I found this promotional video which shows a lot of the areas here in Rotterdam together with scenes we all see in our day to day lives. This is a cycling society and where better for the Tour de France to begin than in the land of bicycles? Here is a quote from the tour’s page in regards to why the Netherlands has been chosen more frequently than other neighbouring countries:
A journalist recently asked me why the Netherlands has been favoured compared to the other countries (“only” three starts each for Belgium and Germany, two for Luxembourg, one for Spain and none in Italy, for instance). Besides the geographical location, which gives the organisers every freedom to organise the route in its entirety, a large part of the answer lies in these few lines, written in L’Équipe in 1954, when the Grande Boucle decided to start outside French borders for the very first time: “All of the Netherlands seemed to have gathered on the roads of Wassenaar, Delft, Rotterdam… Tens of thousands of spectators in closed ranks, uninterrupted, for kilometres and kilometres, clapping, cheering for everything that had to do with the Tour, the cyclists, the motorcyclists, the cars that followed or that led… [In this way] they made a triumph of the first stage!”
What they are describing is another thing I love about the Dutch. While they may do so with customer service and other aspects of life, they never do things halfway when it comes to sports and enthusiasm for public events. Whether it’s a football match, Queen’s Day, Gay Pride, Carnival, a race or any other event, they are there in droves and their excitement and exuberance is not to be matched.
Granted, I really hate crowds so I have usually avoided most of these events, but as a part of my getting the hell over it campaign I am going to attempt to brave the crowds for the Tour de France. It all takes place only minutes from my house, I’d be crazy not to.
Sometimes I find myself complaining about Rotterdam and wishing I lived in a city that was not just full of foreigners but truly expat friendly, like Amsterdam and Den Haag, but that promo video made me swell with pride. Maybe I am a true Rotterdammer at heart and just don’t really know it yet.
P.S. I have just been schooled by my husband that the man in yellow at the end of the video is Joop Zoetemelk whom, in his words, was the Dutch Lance Armstrong before Lance was even a twinkle in his father’s eye.