On 8th November 2013, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme confirmed to the Dutch media that the start of the Tour de France in 2015 will take place in the Dutch city of Utrecht.
It will be the second year in a row that the start of the biggest cycling event in the world will not take place in France. In 2014, the Tour de France will start in Leeds, United Kingdom.
It is not the first time the prestigious cycling event starts in The Netherlands. Amsterdam (1954), Scheveningen (1973), Leiden (1978), Den Bosch (1996) and Rotterdam (2010) hosted the first stage of the Tour de France before.
Utrecht and Tour of Italy
The city of Utrecht has already experience with organizing big cycling and sport events: it was in 2010 already close to getting the start of the Tour de France, but the organization preferred Rotterdam. In the same year, the city in the center of The Netherlands was the finish for the second stage of the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy). In 2013, the city hosted the European Youth Olympic Festival.
The city expects 800,000 to one million visitors during the start of the Tour de France. “This is the largest annual sporting event in the world, only the Olympics and the World Cup will be bigger. We should see it as a regional event. All hotels will be fully booked for a week”, said Aleid Wolfsen, the departing mayor of Utrecht, to Dutch media.
“It is also a boost for Utrecht as cycling city and the recreational sport”, Wolfsen continues. “Regarding the financing: both public and private sources opened up. This allows us to organize an ambitious start. Moreover, we have conducted a market research among the residents of the city and even people who are not cycling fans are saying: ‘go for it’. It is a very nice event for the city.”
Utrecht is the fourth largest city in The Netherlands with a population of approximately 325,000 people. It has a historic city center with canals, monuments and a significant amount of churches, since Utrecht was the religious centre of The Netherlands since the 8th century.
Nowadays, Utrecht is an important center for transport, due to its central location in The Netherlands. Furthermore, it has the largest university in The Netherlands and a very active cultural live.
The twin cities of Utrecht are Leon (Nicaragua), Brno (Czech Republic), Pekanbaru (Indonesia), Kinshasa (Congo) and Portland (United States).