For its second edition, the World Ports Classic will welcome the best riders in the world for a sprint festival on August 30th and 31st this year. This time, the return stage between the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam will be done in the reverse direction.
Start in Antwerp
Historically, Antwerp and Rotterdam are well-known for their commercial activity. More recently, the two cities have become crossroads for sportsmen and women of all disciplines. This year the Flemish city joins its Dutch neighbour in the list of European capitals of sport. In addition to the world gymnastics championships and the European Field Hockey Championship this year, organisers of the World Ports Classic have decided to reverse last year’s route, while maintaining the characteristics that have created its reputation.
After the cobbles, the beach
The specialists of the spring classics in Flanders are natural contenders for the World Ports Classic. The weather is a bit warmer after the spring, and the strong riders have already been out competing in other stage races in Europe. There is a classic atmosphere about this race, which takes place over two days this time. The outward route will be very familiar, with three cobbled sections that are not particularly long but deserve to be treated with respect. The next day, after leaving Rotterdam the peloton will set off on a 200-kilomtetre-plus route across the dykes of Zeeland. The riders will also have the privilege of racing past the beach and waving to the kite surfers there, although they need to keep their nerve along these decisive sectors, the most exposed to the wind in the country.
The World Ports Classic, a new addition to the international cycling calendar, a two-day stage race between Rotterdam and Antwerp, starting 31 August and back the next day, should suit perfectly Tom Boonen, one of the favourites of the race, along with Marcel Kittel, André Greipel and Théo Bos, recent winners of top international cycling races.In 2010, Tom Boonen was forced to give up on the Grand Start of the Tour de France in Rotterdam due to a tendinitis. The World Ports Classic will offer him a second possibility to shine in a similar route to that of the first stage of the Tour de France arriving in Brussels two years ago. “I not only regret missing that Tour de France”, comments the Belgian champion. “Having to withdraw in 2011 due to an injury was a great disappointment for me, since one of the successes I am most proud of is the green jersey I won in the Tour de France in 2007”.
The World Ports Classic is making its debut on the international cycling calendar on August 31, when it begins its two-day trek from Rotterdam to Antwerp and back. Several great riders who thrive in windy conditions and sprints have already included it in their programmes, including a three-time stage winner in the first two weeks of this Tour de France, André Greipel, and the hero of this year’s spring classics, Tom Boonen.
Two years ago, the Tour de France start in Rotterdam was the catalyst for the creation of a two-day classic linking Belgium and the Netherlands, two countries which have played a central role in the history of cycling. The sport may be going global, but the traditional breeding grounds of cycling are still full of creativity and innovation. On August 31, the first World Ports Classic will set off from Rotterdam, roll along the windswept North Sea coast in Zeeland, mirroring the first stage of the 2010 Tour, and ride through a cobbled sector in pure spring classics style in Flanders before the first stage finish in Antwerp. The next day, September 1, the peloton will make its way back to Rotterdam, but not without tackling two cobbled sectors first.
The World Ports Classic is clearly tailor-cut for sprinters with a big engine. One of the first riders to put their names down for the race is Germany's André Greipel, fresh from his terrific treble in the Tour (Rouen, Saint-Quentin and Le Cap-d'Agde). Lotto-Belisol makes no secret of its aim to propel him to more sprint wins and is fielding his two favourite lead-out men, Greg Henderson and Jurgen Roelandts. The clash of the two Belgian elite squads will no doubt bring up memories of the spring classics. At Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Belgian champion Tom Boonen is counting on the support of his German teammate Gerald Ciolek.
Indeed, sprinters seem to come in pairs: Marcel Kittel and Tom Veelers for Argos-Shimano, Óscar Freire and Alexander Kristoff for Katusha, Theo Bos and Mark Renshaw for Rabobank, and Romain Feillu and Kenny van Hummel for Vacansoleil-DCM. The BMC team, on the other hand, is banking on a duo of fast riders who excel in different race scenarios, Taylor Phinney and Adam Blythe.
Main contenders (as of July 16)
Lotto-Belisol: Greipel (GER), Roelandts (BEL), Henderson (NZL); Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Boonen (BEL), Ciolek (GER); Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank: Kroon (NET), Mørkøv (DEN); Liquigas-Cannondale: Oss (ITA); Rabobank: Bos (NET), Renshaw (AUS); Vacansoleil-DCM: Feillu (FRA), Van Hummel (NET), Leukemans (BEL); Katusha: Freire (SPA), Kristoff (NOR), Gusev (RUS); BMC: Phinney (USA), Blythe (GBR); Garmin-Sharp: Hunter (SAF), Vansummeren (BEL), Maaskant (NET); Accent Jobs-Willems Verandas: Hoste (BEL), Van Dijk (NET); Landbouwkrediet-Euphony: Juodvalkis (LIT); Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator: Cornu (BEL); Spidertech: Boivin (CAN); Team Type 1-Sanofi: Serebryakov (RUS); Bretagne-Schuller: Pichon (FRA); Argos-Shimano: Kittel (GER), Veelers (NET); NetApp; Cofidis; Wallonie-Bruxelles.
Eighteen teams have been invited by the organisers for the first edition of the World Ports Classic, from 31st August to 1st September, between Rotterdam and Antwerpen.The 18 selected teams
© Presse Sports
The preparations are continuing for the new event on the calendar of the world cycling elite at the end of the summer in the Netherlands and Belgium. The route promises a spring-like ambiance on the two stages programmed…
A date with the elite
With a distinctive format and significant sporting stakes, the World Ports Classic (classed
2.1 in the UCI Europe Tour calendar) is already attracting the discipline’s champions.
Whilst major stage race enthusiasts will have their eyes on events in Spain, the
specialists of the spring classics or the favourites for the World Championships to be held
in Valkenburg are keenly interested in this return journey between Rotterdam and
Antwerp. To date, 25 teams, including 13 World Tour registered squads, have applied to
take starter’s orders. Only 18 teams will be invited to participate in the event.
Wind and cobbles
The two episodes of the race have now been set down on paper. Between Rotterdam and
Antwerp, the distance of the first stage will extend over the 200 kilometre mark. More
significantly, the route will lead the pack on the roads of the first stage of the Tour de
France 2010, which in fact inspired the creation of the World Ports Classic. Two years
later, some riders will again be crossing the Erasmus Bridge and, what’s more, they will
have to tackle the unpredictable winds of Zeeland. With a nod to the April Flanders
Classics, a cobbled section will keep the riders on their toes fifty kilometres from the
finish. Before crossing the finishing line, they will get to grips with a fifteen-kilometre
stretch through Antwerp Port. The following day, the second act will take place over 161.5
km, with two cobbled sections this time.
On 31st August and 1st September, the two biggest ports in Europe, Rotterdam and Antwerp, will host the first edition of an out-of-the-ordinary stage race in two parts, in the heart of two countries in which bicycles are first and foremost part of the way of life. Here are the key points to remember for this new arrival…
A baby of Le Tour 2010
The World Ports Classic was conceived during the preparations for the Grand Start of the Tour de France 2010. In addition to the July event, Rotterdam displayed the ambition to create an event that honoured the city and cycling on a regular basis. The route for the 1st stage of Le Tour 2010, which passed through Antwerp, served as a starting point for this dream, which was then enhanced by further ideas.
Two stages in two days
The format adopted is based on the personality of both these big cities. The event encapsulates the stage race in its simplest expression, with two stages of approximately 180 kilometres. From a technical point of view, its distinctive character lies in its almost permanent exposure to the winds that blow across the Rhine Delta.
Linking Holland and Belgium
Whilst cycling is successfully exported to all continents, old Europe is also showing it can be pro-active. It is not by chance that the initiative stems from the two countries where bicycles have a greater right of way than anywhere else in the world. It is also natural that an elite race should link the Netherlands to Belgium, each country having given so much to the history of cycling.