Tag Archives: Cadel Evans

GIRO D’ITALIA’S WEIRD ROUTE – Amsterdam to Utrecht

Be careful on these narrow Dutch bridges, Cadel. There could be another bike coming the other way. Walking across is safer.

Dear Cadel Evans,

Hello again from your Netherlands-based Australian cycling consultant. I’ve checked out the route they’ve given you on this Giro Day 2 between Amsterdam to Utrecht, and it’s ridiculous! They’re sending you a very long way around. 209 kilometres?? What are they thinking of??!! I rode down to Utrecht a few weeks ago and it was only a touch over 50km!

That’s what you get for having boys from out of town doing the planning. Those Italians may know Tuscany or Sardinia like the backs of their hands, but send them to Holland and they haven’t got a clue. Any Amsterdammer could have told them there’s a nice flat cycleway with only a few tree roots alongside the Rhine Canal that takes you straight to Utrecht. A few times you have to pick up your bike and lift it over a footbridge, but that shouldn’t be any problem to people like you who have really light bikes. It’s much shorter and quicker than the crazy route they’ve set you guys.

Anyway, I hope you’ll be able to appreciate a bit of nice Dutch countryside and pretty villages. I rode out there and took the camera so I could show you what to expect.

You'll see a lot of landscape like this.

You’ll start off at Amsterdam’s Museumplein again. It could be a bit messy there because the Dutch garbagemen are on strike for a week and the big crowd from Saturday probably won’t take all their litter home with them. Speaking of which, would you tell the other riders not to throw their empty drink bottles away like they usually do when they’ve finished with them, because nobody will be cleaning them up till next Thursday at the earliest.

From the Museumplein you head out through Diemen (a bit boring) and on to Weesp.This is a very pretty town with a market, but it’s only on Wednesdays so unfortunately you’ll miss it. Probably the organisers give you free lunch on a big important ride like the Giro, but if they don’t you’ll find Weesp has a few nice cafes by the water. They’ll be busy because of all the crowds there to see the Giro, but if you say you’re famous and doing the race yourself they should find you a table and serve you fairly quickly. The coffee isn’t nearly as good as in Adelaide, Wollongong or Milan, though.

This is a bridge in Weesp. It's also fairly narrow, so take it easy and remember to ride on the right side of the road, like they do in Belgium.

After Weesp you pass close to Hilversum, the town where most Dutch television studios are based. Expect lots of ‘personalities’ jumping in front of you with cameras and trying to interview you. Ignore them. TV people always think the world revolves around them, but they don’t realise how much more important we cyclists are.

Next the route winds down to Utrecht, past lots of cows and canals. It misses Utrecht the first time, then wiggles around all over the town trying to find the Centrum, or town centre. We shouldn’t blame the organisers for that. I got lost in Utrecht myself. By Sunday I hope they’ll have put up signs with arrows pointing to the finish so you should find it okay, even if you’re out in front of the race and can’t just follow the other riders.

Utrecht is a university town so there are nice things to do there. There’s a Kathmandu store there too, so if you need any outdoor gear, a Goretex jacket or a tent to save on hotel costs, that’s the place to be. It’s been really cold here in Holland, Cadel, so you may need a fleece jacket.

If you’re at a loose end after the race, there are two interesting museums in Utrecht – the Aboriginal Art Museum (tell them you’re an Aussie and they’ll be all over you) and a museum of mechanical music which has entertaining music boxes and street organs.

Good luck, Cadel – it’s a long day’s ride but a good one.

Your cycling friend, Richard.

PS. Tomorrow I’ll try the third of the Dutch Giro legs – Amsterdam to Middelburg in Zeeland, through the tulip fields of Lisse. Then on Saturday I’ll be by the roadside watching out for you.


Filed under Cycling, Holland, Sport

GIRO D’ITALIA PROLOGUE – my insider’s tips

Me and my bike

Dear Cadel Evans,

I’m an Aussie, so I want you to win the Giro cycling race, and I’ve been living in Amsterdam for a while, so I know about riding here. I just rode the course you’ll be doing as a time trial in the Prologue on Saturday, and I have a few tips for you.

I also took some photos, because you know how when you’re riding in a real hurry you forget to look around at the sights and there are things you could miss if they’re not pointed out to you.

Some of the route is a bit tricky…

The race starts at the Museumplein, behind the Rijksmuseum

Cadel, the route starts at the Museumplein, where there are always lots of tourists. They sometimes stand around chatting, blocking the cycle path. If this happens, ring your bell loudly and yell out that you’re in a race and they usually get out of the way.

There's plenty of bike parking in Amsterdam

You probably have a pretty new bike, Cadel, so make sure you lock it up if you’re leaving it parked in the street before the race. Even old bikes get stolen a lot in Amsterdam. Carry a heavy chain with you, put it through the front wheel, the frame, the back wheel and finally anchor it to the largest public building you can find.

Heineken brewery

Soon after you start the prologue, you pass the Heineken Brewery. They used to give away free beer on their popular brewery tours, but I think they make visitors pay now. Maybe if you say you’re a world famous cyclist they’d give you a discount – it’s worth a try; if they say no, what have you lost?

Work in progress on the Vijzelgracht

From the brewery, the route goes down the Vijzelgracht, where you can see the houses on either side are being propped up to stop them falling into the hole where Amsterdam’s new metro line is supposed to go. You should be safe from falling masonry, Cadel, as long as you’re wearing your helmet. I always ride through this street as fast as I can and hope nothing goes wrong.

Stopera building

Next you’ll be crossing this bridge by the Stopera, the city opera house, over the famous Amstel River. Watch out for trams, and make sure you don’t get your front wheel stuck in the tracks. Lots of visitors who aren’t used to Amsterdam’s roads fall off this way.

Just past the Waterlooplein flea market, the route turns right into the Weesperstraat. It’s a long straight stretch, and most people can ride it really fast. I was going very well today, but then this bridge opened in front of me to let a boat go through. I certainly hope that doesn’t happen to you, Cadel, because in a time trial even losing a few minutes can be the difference between winning and coming umpteenth.

Weesperstraat bridge

The Apollolaan is one of Amsterdam’s most beautiful streets. The Hilton Hotel became famous when John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent their honeymoon in bed there. If you say you’re a famous cyclist they might let you have a quick look in the room.

Hilton Hotel, Apollolaan

The prologue finishes at the Olympic Stadium, where Amsterdam hosted the 1928 Olympic Games. You’ll probably be pretty clapped out by the time you get there, but I live close by, so give me a buzz if you want to come round for a beer when you’ve finished the media interviews.

Olympic stadium, nearly night time when I arrived.

PS. To give you some idea of the time it should take you…the prologue course is 8.4km long. I did it in less than an hour (52 minutes, 17 seconds). I think you’ll be faster if that bridge doesn’t open in front of you. Also stopping to take photos slows you down, so I’d advise you not to do that.

Sunday and Monday’s stages also start in Amsterdam, then go to Utrecht (Sunday) and Middelburg (Monday) so next I’m going to ride them too. Though they are both 209km long, so you may get there before I do, Cadel. Good luck, anyway.


Filed under Cycling, Holland, Sport