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Grand Départ Utrecht 2015

Mayor of Utrecht


Aleid WOLFSEN, Mayor of Utrecht and Christian PRUDHOMME, Director of the Tour de France © A.S.O.

What word conveys best your feelings as Mayor when the Tour is due to start in your city?
I think ‘proud’ comes closest.

A Grand Start is like a dream coming true – a dream that I can clearly envision (and hear!).
The peloton packed with the best riders in the world, followed by the convoy of cars and motorbikes. What we know so well from TV will now be ‘live’ on our own streets. Streets filled with enthusiastic crowds, most of whom ride a bike every day. As Utrechters, we can’t offer first-category mountain passes. We do however have a first-class stage, thanks to our bicycle and cycling traditions, which will be difficult to win even for the best riders. This will all happen in and around our city. All our inhabitants can join me in feeling very proud about hosting this sporting event here. Many in this city and region contributed to the coming of the Tour, making this a festivity for everyone.

Against the backdrop of our Utrecht, a city with Roman and medieval roots which accomplished its first stages a long time ago, with its historic inner city and thousands of monuments. But it is also a city where young and old live with pleasure, study and work, a city full of socio-economic, scientific and cultural dynamics. The biggest expansion site, Leidsche Rijn, lies within its borders. A city in development which looks forward to every new stage with excitement.

I hope that we get to welcome many lovers of France, sports and cycling to our city on the occasion of the start of the 2015 Tour. And I wish everyone, I repeat, EVERYONE involved, a beautiful and exciting race.

Director of the Tour de France

Utrecht: cycling in its heart

Utrecht is a city that knows how to patiently cultivate its aesthetic appeal. We received the first application letter from the city to host a Grand Start of the Tour de France in 2002. Consequently, they had to wait more than ten years for this project to come to fruition. A project desired throughout its development, postponed several times, but whose principle was never called into question, on one side like the other, because Le Tour recognised straight away that the City of Utrecht was an ally in the major cause of promoting cycling.

Still more than elsewhere in the Netherlands, the bicycle is king. As proof, an impressive garage with a capacity of more than 20,000 bikes will be built near the station. For cycling enthusiasts like ourselves, such a building will rival with the Dom, the sumptuous tower of the Saint Martin Cathedral whose bells rang out the French national anthem on our first visit, to our great surprise. This serenade underlined the spirit of aptness and initiative of the country’s fourth biggest city, already renowned for being… unjustly unsung! Unavoidable for young Dutch people, who cycle every day to the biggest university in the country, Utrecht is pouring its energy and enthusiasm into a future devoted to cycling. We are evidently both pedalling in the same direction… The union of all these cycling hopes forms a shared and evident discourse, whose message will be a convincing one. The Grand Start in July 2015 will place Utrecht at the heart of this movement.

Jan Janssen © Press Sports Joop Zoetemelk © Press Sports Theofiel Middelkamp © Press Sports

Sixth Grand Start: a record

The Grand Start of the Tour de France in Utrecht in 2015 will be the sixth to have taken place in the Netherlands, which is a record for starts outside the borders of France. Furthermore, it was in the Netherlands that the Tour de France started abroad for the first time. The year was 1954, the venue Amsterdam, the Dutch capital. It was followed later by Scheveningen (1973), Leiden (1978), ‘s-Hertogenbosch (1996) and Rotterdam (2010).

Nine stage hosting towns

Utrecht will become the ninth town or city in the Netherlands to host the Tour de France. In addition to those which have welcomed a Grand Start, there are also Maastricht in 1969, Saint-Willebrord in 1978 and Valkenburg in 1992 and 2006 that have hosted stages.

Roll of honour

Theofiel Middelkamp was the first Dutch rider to win a stage on the Tour de France. Even though, he had never seen a mountain before winning in 1936 on the stage between Aix-les-Bains and Grenoble which took in the Col du Galibier pass. In total, including the team time-trials, there have been 167 Dutch victories, with the last one achieved by Pieter Weening in 2005.

Two Yellow Jerseys in Paris

In 1968, he was the first Dutchman but also the first bespectacled rider to win the Tour. It was on completion of the last stage, a time-trial between Melun and Paris that Jan Janssen, with a 38 second gap, beat Belgian Herman Van Springel. Twelve years later, in 1980, it was the turn of Joop Zoetemelk to climb onto the highest step on the podium on the Champs-Élysées. After having finished in second place five times, on his tenth attempt he was finally rewarded for his perseverance.

© A.S.O. © A.S.O. © A.S.O. © A.S.O. © A.S.O. © A.S.O. © A.S.O.

Located in the heart of the Netherlands and capital of the province of the same name, Utrecht, with its 322,000 inhabitants, is the fourth biggest city in the country.

Founded in the Antiquity during the Roman era, in the Middle Ages it was an important religious and commercial centre. Later, in 1713, it hosted the signing of the Utrecht treaty that ended the War of the Spanish Succession. Today, Utrecht is renowned for its university, which is the country’s biggest and one of the most prestigious in Europe. The Dom, the 112-metre high tower of Saint Martin Cathedral, is the symbol of the city through which pass canals bordered by terraces, cafés and restaurants.

How to get there

By plane: Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, 45 kilometres from Utrecht city centre. By train: From Paris to Rotterdam with Thalys then change to take the train to Utrecht. There are many daily connections. By road: 480 km of motorway separate Paris from Utrecht.

Dates for your diary

Wednesday July 1st: opening of the Staff HQ and press centre at the Jaarbeurs Utrecht Trade Centre.
Thursday July 2nd: presentation of the Tour de France 2015 teams at Park Lepelenburg.
Saturday July 4th: first stage, Utrecht > Utrecht, a 13.7-kilometre individual time-trial.
Sunday July 5th: start of the second stage, Utrecht > ...

Les Pays Bas et Le Tour de France

Utrecht : Animation Grand Départ 2015

Clip Utrecht

Overall route
Etape 1

Utrecht > Utrecht

13,7 km - Individual time-trial

The Tour de France 2015 will start with a 13.7 kilometre time-trial. The riders will tackle a circuit of which entire route will cross the city from west to east and back again on flat terrain. The starting ramp will be set up in front of the Jaarbeurs Utrecht Trade Centre, which will also play host to the reception facilities and press centre. The race will first head to the Stadion Galgenwaard, the football stadium that is home to FC Utrecht. From there, after a detour to the north, the route will head to the Utrecht Science Park, the university, before turning west again. It will go past the historical centre and Maliesingel before passing in front of the railway museum and reaching the finish next to Utrecht central station.

Etape 2

Utrecht > ...

Once again, the Jaarbeurs Utrecht Trade Centre will play host to the start of the second stage. The pack will then parade down the streets of the old quarters and alongside the canals before passing under the arcades of the Dom, the tower of the Saint Martin Cathedral. Afterwards, it will head to the Maliebaan promenade and pass in front of the house which witnessed the founding, in 1883, of the Nederlandse Vélocipèdisten Bond, the first cycling club in the Netherlands. The actual start will take place on the ‘t Goylaan and, after a loop to the north of the city followed by twenty kilometres through Leidsche Rijn, the new district of west Utrecht, the Tour de France will head towards...

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