June 24, 2015

Tree-shaped bike racks to adorn Utrecht for Tour start

Filed under: Bicycles,Design by Orangemaster @ 11:28 am


Just in time for Le Grand Départ of the Tour de France in Utrecht in early July, tree-shaped bike racks called ‘Rack & Roots’, designed by award-winning student Esther Bergstra will be placed around the city.

“By parking your bicycle against these strong roots, you’re reminded of the world under the tree. Trees are a special addition to the urban landscape and together they form an urban forest.”

In the mean time, there’s still much construction downtown Utrecht as the world’s biggest bike garage dominates much of the construction landscape near the train station.

(Link: nieuws.nl, Photo www.grontmij.nl)

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July 18, 2014

Taxis posing as Tour de France team cars

Filed under: Automobiles by Orangemaster @ 8:08 pm

Amsterdam’s taxi landscape is currently featuring mock team cars with bikes on them (pic) to promote Radio 1’s coverage of the Tour, which features French music, lots of manly conversation and the occasional defamatory comment. When stepping into one of these taxis, you can listen to Radio Tour de France and almost feel what it’s like to be in the Tour de France, well kinda, if you add some suspension of disbelief.

I think it’s a nifty idea, as I like the look of the cars, but then I would probably take a taxi when the Tour wasn’t on at night and part of my brain now wonders how long the bikes will stay there and what kind of bikes they are. The Tour will be starting in Utrecht next year by the way.

As you probably already know, Radio 1 won’t have any Tour de France coverage on at all today to leave space for the world news about the Dutch airplane shot down in Ukraine, taking the lives of 298 people, of which 189 where Dutch.

(Link: www.amsterdamadblog.com)

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June 24, 2013

Ninety-nine years of Tour de France in comic book form

Filed under: Bicycles,Comics by Branko Collin @ 2:11 pm

Next Saturday the hundredth edition of the toughest bicycle race on the planet will start, the Tour de France.

Dutch comics artist Jan Cleijne has written and drawn a book called Helden van de Tour (Heroes of the Tour) in which he reviews the past 99 editions.

Het Friesch Dagblad notes that with the hundredth Tour ahead of us, the market is about to be saturated with bicycle racing books. “But it looks like Helden van de Tour will be one of the winners. […] A jewel of a graphic novel.”

Sevendays.nl writes: “Comics artist Jan Cleijne visits all the historic highs and lows, from World War I to the scandal surrounding Lance Armstrong, and talks about what the Tour is all about: endurance. He lets us experience the blizzards, the puddles, a 70 metre drop, glorious victories and molten asphalt. His drawings take on the colours of the stories, ochre during the climb of an arid Mount Ventoux, gray during the hellish ride of 1926 through the Pyrenees.”

“The book is an homage to a race that is worthy of its legends, but it also puts the focus where it hurts,” Zeit Online writes. “The author, born in 1977, is an enthusiastic amateur rider himself and it shows. His voice is critical throughout the book but also emphatic. Precise and loving are the brush strokes with which the Dutchman paints both the drama of the famous riders and the small anecdotes that take place near the sidelines. […] It is a funny but also a serious book.”

You can find a couple of sample pages at Manners.nl under the ‘Klik dan hier’ link.

Illustration: “In 1951 the yellow jersey was worn for the first time by a Dutchman. His name was Wim van Est. He had never seen a mountain before in his life. The ascent was very slow. The descent was much too fast.” (Miraculously Van Est survived.)

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July 23, 2009

The day the grown men cried

Filed under: Bicycles,History,Sports by Branko Collin @ 8:50 am

The Tour de France is drawing to a close, and Dutch cyclists and teams have so far failed to put their mark on the great race. Local sports writers have started to look elsewhere for heroic stories, and one of those places is the past. And the one story inevitably to be rediscovered is … dun! dun! … The Day the Grown Men Cried.

A story “from the old box”, as we say. On 5 June 1988, the Giro d’Italia was to climb the Passo di Gavia in the Italian Alps. A somewhat ordinary looking stage on paper, but when the cyclists woke that morning, they heard snow had covered the road at the top.

Dutch cyclist Johan van der Velde broke away from the pack at the start of the climb and was the first to cross the pass. But he paid a price! Just before his breakaway he had given his raincoat and sleaves to a surprised team-mate. Rain had already plagued the cyclists, but now, a few kilometres before the top, a blizzard hit the mountain.

Van der Velde managed to get over the top, but two kilometres into the descent his cold body started shaking uncontrollably and he had to stop for fear of falling off his bike. He never finished the descent on his bike, instead he drove in his team manager’s car to a point three kilometres off the finish, where he got back on and cycled the last bit. Van der Velde eventually lost 47 minutes to the winner, but wasn’t disqualified—the jury understood.

The conditions were so harsh that many cyclists had to stop for cognac, hot tea and massages. It was so cold that two of the former Giro winners cried in pain. The snow froze the cyclists’ hands and clogged up their brakes, turning the descent into a dangerous undertaking.

Only two of the cyclists in front finished the descent without stopping and without help. Andy Hampsten of the USA and Erik Breukink of the Netherlands raced off the mountain as fast as they could towards the finish line in Bormio. A couple of kilometres before the end, Breukink sped past Hampsten (PDF) and won the race by 15 seconds. Hampsten however won the pink jersey, the mark of the race leader, and he wouldn’t let go of it until the end, competing a fierce battle with second place Breukink in the remaining stages. Hampsten became the first American to win the second most prestigious bicycle race in the world.

Breukink admitted that it was only the thought of being in contention (Dutch, Real Media) that kept him on his bike during that brutal descent. Until then, he had had the reputation of being a bit of a softy, but the Gavia Pass win rid him of that moniker forever.

Through some miraculous stroke of luck, none of the cyclists died that day, although Hampsten’s team-mate and countryman Bob Roll suffered from hypothermia and an extremely low heart rate of 27 bpm.

There are very few TV images I can show you of this stage. Like today, the major bicycle races then had extensive TV coverage, shot by cameramen on motorcycles often taking even more risks in slippery descents than the cyclists themselves. The images were supplemented by video shot from helicopters that doubled as flying relay stations. The signal from a motor camera will not travel through mountains, and on that day it was discovered that blizzards have the same effect. The only moving images made of this climb were those of a solitary land-locked camera at the top of the pass.

Watching that video made me realise that in those days you could play another game of Spot the Dutchman. French team La Vie Claire (Bernard Hinault, Greg Lemond) wore jerseys inspired by Piet Mondriaan’s paintings.

(Photo of the Passo di Gavia by Marco Mayer, some rights reserved.)

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July 20, 2009

Portable ice bath on Tour a Dutch thing

Filed under: Gadgets,Sports by Orangemaster @ 12:05 pm
IcyDip (assembly) 2

It’s a day of rest for the Tour de France and a good time for us to find a Dutch angle to it. Dutch cyclist Niki Terpstra of Team Milram tells us of a cool way to freshen up and feel better after a long day of cycling: sitting in a plastic dustbin with ice water, designed by Icysolutions, a Dutch company. The ‘Icydip’ was thought up by two former students of the Delft University of Technology, Hicham Shatou and Tarek Ghobar.

You can watch this promotional video to see it properly or a shaky video in Dutch with Niki Terpstra (scroll down a bit), or both.

(Explanation with English subtitles starts at 0:45, albeit with football players)

(Link: bizz.nl, Photo: icysolutions)

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January 13, 2009

Tour de France start hindered by Protestant reformists

Filed under: Religion,Sports by Orangemaster @ 12:17 pm
TDF 2007

In our vigilant reporting on the ‘Jihad against fun’ sweeping the Netherlands, some heavy duty Protestant (unintentional pun intended) towns in the provinces of South Holland and Zealand where the Tour de France is planning to kick off on 4 July 2010 are saying ‘non, merci’ to the great cycling event because it kicks off on a Sunday. The SGP (Political Reformed Party) do not want townspeople to be forced to work on a Sunday because, well, it’s Sunday, and according to them, you’re not supposed to work. Some law actually gives them the right to refuse to work on Sunday, which was surely a good thing back when people worked six days a week like madmen. Lucky for us, we could save face if the organisers and the SGP can agree on a route that would not disturb the people that really want to rest on Sunday.

It’s comforting to know that a small group of people are mainly thinking of themselves and not of the greater good of the Tour starting in the Netherlands again (Den Bosch, 1996). Or maybe they really enjoy getting press and making sure the rest of the world knows that that ‘being tolerant thing’ is just a tourist trap.

Before anyone says, “yes, but they have a right to rest by law…”, let me provide a concrete solution to the problem. If you can’t (won’t) do work on the Sabbath, you get/hire/ask someone to do it for you. It doesn’t stop the Jews I know, it shouldn’t stop a single Protestant, either.

(Link: depers.nl, Photo: Orangemaster at the finish line in Paris, 2007)

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July 30, 2007

24 oranges at the Tour finish line!

Filed under: Bicycles,Dutch first,Sports by Orangemaster @ 4:39 pm

While the doping scandals rage on, the show must go on – and it did. Just watching these guys whiz by is enough to make you forget everything and enjoy the colourful peloton being cheered on by all those people in downtown Paris.

It’s slightly OT, but our very own Orangemaster was at the finish line of the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées in the pressbox taking pictures and filming! Here is a sample.

A huge thanks to Philippe and Jean Michel, two French radio announcers who made this possible and made me remember what the Tour is really about – cycling.

Oh, and for the Dutch fans, everybody thought it was great to see the rest of the Rabobank team race and not abandon the race for one “bad guy”. In my press guide of the Tour, former cyclist Bernard Hinault was quoted as saying, “every year, I say the same thing: they (Rabobank) have a solid, homogenous team that can score on the straights and in the mountains.”


Daniele Bennati crossing the finish line, winning the Champs-Élysées stage.


“La voix du Tour” (The voice of the Tour) since 1974, Daniel Mangeas, very friendly and took a few minutes to chat.


Britain’s David Millar, leader of the Saunier Duval-Prodir team giving an interview minutes after the race.

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