© A.S.O. - B. Bade
Rotterdam and Antwerp, the two biggest gateways to the rest of the world for Europe, are together developing the plans for a race in their own image. The World Ports Classic takes its place on a circuit that is increasingly global, but where the historical heart of cycle racing continues to assert itself and invent. The wealth of events worldwide is an invitation for cycling and its champions to travel. However, Holland and Belgium boast a special place. In this small corner of the planet, the bicycle has a greater right of way than anywhere else: omnipresent in towns and cities, it has also forged the destiny of heroes in the two countries, whether called Merckx, Gilbert, Zoetemelk or Gesink. In the spring on the routes of their classics, the two countries provide thrills for supporters who also regularly have the opportunity to see the pack of the Tour de France drop in for a visit, the last of which, during the 2010 edition, brought about the creation of the World Ports Classic.
The event, whose first edition is scheduled for 31 August and 1 September 2012, promises a struggle characterised by the constant and unpredictable threat of the winds that blow across the region. The crossing of Zeeland, on the “outward” journey, is likely to lead to guttering. For this out-of-the-ordinary stage race, set in two acts and two countries, there will naturally be a leader’s jersey to defend on the route leading from Antwerp to Rotterdam. According to their ambitions and interests, the riders could see it as a possibility to add an envy-inspiring title to their roll of honour, or as a festival to be enjoyed in front of their loyal spectators for local competitors. Yet first and foremost, the World Ports Classic is set to be a celebration of cycling in all the places through which it will pass.