The future of cycling races in the north of the Netherlands hangs precariously in the balance. This development comes in the wake of the North Netherlands Police’s decision to withdraw motor escorts for cycling events starting in 2024. “There will be no cycling rounds in North Netherlands next year,” affirms race organiser Thijs Rondhuis.
Joop De Schepper, Head of Operations for North Netherlands Police, cited the need to prioritise their multifaceted roles. Highly trained motorcyclists, he argued, should be utilised for targeted traffic supervision and anti-underworld operations, rather than escorting cycling events.
Although Rondhuis, the organiser of the upcoming BetCity Elfstedenrace, sympathises with the police’s stance, he is exploring the potential employment of civilian motorcyclists. A legislative change would be required to implement this option. According to De Schepper, a pilot scheme with civilian motorcyclists in Limburg yielded encouraging results.
Implications for the Healthy Ageing Tour and Ronde van Drenthe in 2024
Two monumental events in women’s cycling, the Healthy Ageing Tour and the Ronde van Drenthe, are now standing at a crossroads due to these decisions. Both these races have traditionally been staged in the north of the Netherlands and represent cornerstone events in the elite women’s cycling calendar. The lack of police support would not just create a glaring safety vacuum; it could dissuade participation, undermine spectator engagement, and diminish sponsorship appeal. Ultimately, it could lead to the cancellation of the races.
Rondhuis suggests that new legislation could be the salvation. Should civilian motorcyclists become a legal and practical alternative, both the Healthy Ageing Tour and the Ronde van Drenthe could proceed in 2024. Yet the legislative timeline casts a long shadow, especially when considering the meticulous planning required for races of such stature.
There was no Healthy Ageing Tour in 2023, with the region focusing on hosting the European Championships instead. Lorena Wiebes won the 2023 Ronde van Drenthe.