The world’s most famous cycling race gets under way in the Netherlands on July 4 with Utrecht officials keen to highlight the city’s “pro-bicycle” commitment.
Mayor Jan van Zanen welcomed Tour de France organisers to Utrecht’s 12,500-capacity bicycle park, presented as the “biggest in the world”.
“Utrecht is a bicycle town,” the mayor said.
“Every day 25,000 citizens (of 350,000 habitants) travel to work by bicycle. 90,000 inhabitants use their bicycle every week.”
It was Utrecht’s promotion of cycling which attracted organisers of the three-week race to choose the town.
“This promotion of cycling for all, daily, pushed us to come here,” said Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme.
It is the sixth time the Tour will start in the Netherlands, the last time being in 2010 when it kicked off in Europe’s largest port of Rotterdam.
“It will be as fabulous as in Rotterdam, where a million spectators turned out. I’m sure that in 30 years we’ll still remember, it will be magnificent,” promised 1980 Tour de France winner Joop Zoetemelk, Utrecht’s ambassador for the “Big start”. – Agence France-Presse