Thursday 17 November 2011 at 07h53

In European cycling calendar, the UCI Europe Tour 2012 you might have discovered a new race which will take place in The Netherlands and in Belgium this summer, the World Ports Classic.

A two day race which will take place in two countries of which one is my home country and an area of another country in which people speak the same language ... I think it's thus quite normal that gives you some further details about it!

Yesterday this race, organised by Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO; also organisor of the Tour de France, Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix, le Critérium du Dauphiné and many other races), has been officially presented in the Town Hall of Rotterdam and in the one of Antwerp.

During the preparations of the Tour de France 2010, which had its Grand Départ in Rotterdam in The Netherlands, the idea was born for a race which connects the city of the biggest harbour of Europe to Antwerp, in Belgium, the second biggest harbour of Europe.

Christian PrudhommeThe first edition will take place on 31 August and 1 September 2012 starting with a stage from Rotterdam to Antwerp followed the next day by a stage the other way around between those two cities. On the web site, Christian Prudhomme, director of Cycling for ASO, already declares that the race promises a struggle characterised by the constant and unpredictable threat of the winds that blow across the region.


Friday 31 August 2012: Rotterdam (NL) > Antwerp (B)

For this first stage, the riders will start from the biggest harbour in Europe, Rotterdam, and go towards the second biggest harbour of Europe, Antwerp, by following mostly the same race route as the one of the first stage of the Tour de France 2010 which took place on Sunday 4 July 2010 between Rotterdam and Brussels.

The precise race route has not been announced yet and it will not exactly be the same as the one which was used in July 2010 (at that time, 163 kilometers seperated the two harbours; in the World Ports Classic the stages will be around 180 kilometers long) but it's already sure that the province of Zealand (Zeeland) will be part of this stage. Indeed, in an item on the local TV station Omroep Zeeland, Christian Prudhomme explains that Zealand is very important for this first stage: for the landscapes, for the pictures on TV and for the race: for the wind because the wind is always present in Zealand ... but also for its oysters. I love the oysters from Zealand!

Ben de Reu, deputy of sports for the Province of Zealand described the race route through his province as follows: the riders will enter Zealand on Schouwen (Schouwen-Duiveland, the island of the city of Zierikzee) and will than take the Stormvloedkering (one of the dikes of the Delta Plan) towards the city of Middelburg and than Vlissingen before going to Goes, while visiting the harbour area, and finally joining Antwerp through Zuid-Beveland. According to the Belgian media, the riders will enter Belgium, just like in the Tour de France 2010, in Putte-Kapellen, and they noted that Christian Prudhomme said: That's the city where Jan Janssen lives, a rider who I had the chance to admire when I was young. We can say this is some sort of a tribute to that Dutch man.

The exact place where the white finish line will be drawn in Antwerp has not been chosen yet but Geert Bruynseels, coordinator of sports events for the city of Antwerp, declared to Het Nieuwsblad that once the riders enter Belgium, it has been suggested to ASO that the riders will turn towards Stabroek to get to the harbour zone of Antwerp and the finish can than for example be in the Leien zone (Avenues; a zone which connects the southern and the northern part of the city and which has big long roads).

As a reminder and for comparison, you'll find below the race route of the first stage of the Tour de France 2010 between Rotterdam and Brussels. Click on the image to open it (Google Maps).
La carte du parcours de la première étape du Tour de France 2010 sur Google Maps

1/ Rotterdam > Bruxelles

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Saturday 1 September 2012: Antwerp (B) > Rotterdam (NL)

Logo World Ports ClassicWhile things seems to be quite clear already for the first stage, the second stage between Antwerp and Rotterdam still remains quite a mystery. Indeed, we only know for now that the rider who took the yellow jersey the day before will have to defend it for the final victory in this new race in a stage which will connect Antwerp to Rotterdam through the province of Noord-Brabant (where I'm from!).

According to the local news paper BN De Stem, the harbour city of Moerdijk would be an important candidate for a visit during this stage.

In any case, it will again be a stage of about 180 kilometers.

Vuelta and Tour visits already being planned?

Where the Province of Zealand seems to dream, according to Ben de Reu, of a possible stage between the province of Drenthe, where the Vuelta a España 2009 started, and the province of Zealand for a future edition, maybe in 2015, of the Tour of Spain, the mayor of Antwerp Patrick Janssens already mentions a possible visit of the Tour de France by saying: We will use this opportunity to try to get the Tour de France back to Antwerp.

Apparently the both cycling loving countries thus hope to be able to use this new race to get access to the two Grand Tours in which ASO has something to say (as the owner of the Tour de France and being 49% owner of the Vuelta a España).

The promotion video of the World Ports Classic 2012

Hereunder you'll find the official promotion video for the World Ports Classic 2012.
This text will be replaced
source: ASO


Some points which still need to be sorted out in terms of communication

According to the UCI Europe Tour 2012 calendar as it has been published by the UCI, the address of the official web site of the race would be Even though the domain name has indeed been claimed, on 5 April 2011 by a certain "Frenk Theuns", there hasn't been an official site published at this address as of today. The interactif UCI cycling calendar on has thus been updated with the correct address of the official web site, on (see the detailed entry of the World Ports Classic 2012).

On this site, the presentation by Christian Prudhomme correctly mentions a race between Belgium and The Netherlands, but today's press release mentions Holland, a region of The Netherlands which regroups the provinces of North-Holland and South-Holland, instead of talking about the country, The Netherlands. Many French people make this mistake (especially because of the fact that they learn at school, incorrectly, that it's the same) but this doesn't really do any good to a race like this one which not only takes place in Holland. The province of Zealand for example could take this badly ...

Finally, in the calendar as it has been published by the UCI, the race is presented as being a race which takes place in The Netherlands, while both stage will of course take place on the territory of the two countries of the race: The Netherlands and Belgium. The Eneco Tour has this same particularity, but this race is presented in the calendar without a mention of the country since it also takes place in The Netherlands and in Belgium.

The internationalisation starts in Europe?

During his speech at the prize giving ceremony of the Coupe de France, Marc Madiot (FDJ) explained that the internationalisation of cycling starts in France ... when you see a race like this one being created from scratch ... I dare to say that the internationalisation of cycling starts in Europe at least!

In any case, it's good to see such a new race arrive in two countries which historically played a big role in cycling! I'm not against the internationalisation of cycling, but only if it respects what already exists. If that can be taken even further by creating new races (without of course harming any existing races in Europe!!), that's even better!

door Thomas Vergouwen
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this publication is published in: Cycling general (except Tour de France) | World Ports Classic


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