When thinking of cycling races, Limburg immediately comes to mind. The province is uniquely suited to the sport. And the various crossborder races hosted in Limburg attest to the boundless quality of its cycling activities. The Amstel Gold Race is the Netherlands’ main cycling event. The race adds colour to Limburg’s cycling landscape. It breaks down borders, partly through the international press coverage.
After 50 years, it’s impossible to imagine Limburg without the Amstel Gold Race. No other region in the Netherlands can offer such a difficult and varied route as the country’s most southern and international province. Limburg became the setting for the Amstel Gold Race because its organiser Herman Krott had a dream. 50 years ago, he recognised the potential that Limburg had for cycling. Obviously Limburg’s hills were a crucial factor. But there are so many more factors that make Limburg a cycling province par excellence. The central location in Limburg, for example, on the border with top cycling countries such as Germany and Belgium.
The thousands of cyclists who have participated over the last fifty years have come from all corners of the globe. The roll of honour shows that victory was won 29 times by a cyclist from the Low Countries. Despite this fact, the Amstel Gold Race has had international allure since the first cyclist passed the finish line in 1966. Crowds of international journalists, hours of international radio and TV coverage and innumerable international publications have ensured this. The Amstel Gold Race has placed Limburg’s sporting profile firmly on the world’s map.
The Drielandenomloop (Three Country Race) is an established concept in cycling-mad Netherlands and beyond. The race is a competition whose course passes through The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium over a distance of usually around 190 km. What makes the Drielandenomloop unique is, as its name suggests, that it goes through three countries: The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. For good reason the tour is also referred to as the Limburg Cross-Border Tour. Chief Mayor Marcel Philipp of Aachen describes it as follows in the race book: “There are many one-day classic races or Tour stages over about 200 kilometres. But there is not a single one of these road races that can boast going through three countries in one stretch. The 199 kilometres of the 18th Drielandenomloop from and to Bocholtz touches on eleven cities and towns in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. That is something special that shows what our region is all about: international and preferably without borders.”
The first Eroica Limburg was held on Sunday, 3 July 2016. There were three scenic and unique routes, all of which started in the international cycling city of Valkenburg and crossed border into Belgium. In addition to conventional paved roads, the routes also included rough terrain. The ride was open exclusively to cyclists on vintage bikes (bicycles manufactured prior to 1987), and the dress code was likewise vintage. Eroica is more than just cycling; it is a feeling, with special atmosphere and fun for the whole family taking centre stage. When it comes to cycling history and nostalgia, Eroica is in a class on its own in the world. The beating heart of Eroica is the ride, which is divided into three courses of varying distances. Cyclists must use vintage racing bikes and dress in vintage outfits, and accessories that are at least 30 years old.