Miron Ronde van Drenthe gets green light, but without police protection

Written by: Niels Goudriaan
Posted 2 months ago

The teams behind the Drenthe cycling races, with help from local governments and the Drenthe province, have tackled big problems to make sure two major women’s cycling events could happen this year. The Drentse Acht van Westerveld and the MIRON Women’s WorldTour Ronde van Drenthe were in danger of being cancelled because of no police support, rising costs, and tough rules. These issues had already caused the cancellation of the men’s race. But now, these women’s races are set to go ahead on March 9 and 10, 2024, in a new and unique way.

For the first time, these professional races will run without police help because of staffing problems with the police in North Netherlands. This situation led to some smart thinking about how to keep the races safe and fun without the usual police escorts. The solution was to change the race routes to have multiple laps in the same area, which made it easier to manage the races and also helped lessen environmental impact. Volunteers, including some who used to be police officers, are stepping in to help make sure everything runs smoothly.

The Acht van Westerveld will be held on March 9, 2024. Thanks to the support from Westerveld, this race will cover 127 km, starting and finishing in Dwingeloo. The race will mostly take place on a 16 km loop between Ansen and Oosteinde, offering beautiful views of the area.

The MIRON Women’s WorldTour Ronde van Drenthe is held a day later, and starts at 13:45 on March 10, 2024. This big race will see top cyclists starting in the Dutch city of Beilen, where also the team presentation is held, thanks to the Midden-Drenthe municipality. After 158 km of racing, the race features a tough climb to the VAM-berg, with the route planned to ensure the safety and excitement of both racers and fans. The  Vam berg is climbed 6 times in 5 laps of 29km. The race will finish around 17:45 on top of the VAM-berg and will be shown live for fans to watch, thanks to support from the province.

At some point, enough is enough. It's becoming nearly impossible to organize a cycling race in the Netherlands

Jan Zwiers, Mayor of Midden-Drenthe: “We are incredibly proud that the Women’s WorldTour will take place in our municipality. A big event! We have therefore done everything possible to ensure that the Race can go ahead. The absence of police involvement on this day posed a significant challenge. We have now set up a beautiful course, where we have paid careful attention to ensuring the safety of the racers and visitors as much as possible. The employees of our municipality have also worked very hard for this. Compliments to the entire organization. We are going for it!”

Because it took a very long time before all systems were go and the setup of both races deviates completely from what is usual, the organization must now work hard once again. This led organizer Femmy van Issum to sigh during the last staff meeting: “At some point, enough is enough. It’s becoming nearly impossible to organize a cycling race in the Netherlands. Volunteers are dropping out because they are completely fed up. After this cycling weekend, we want to conduct a thorough evaluation with all parties involved, such as the municipalities and the province. We’re not going to do this again in the same way.”

Getting to this point hasn’t been easy, and there’s talk of reviewing how these events are run in the future. The goal is to figure out a better way to handle the challenges of organizing races like these in the Netherlands. Despite these challenges, the determination to push through has shown how much people care about women’s cycling.

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