A map of stages 1 and 2 of Le Tour de France 2015 (photo credit: www.radiostadmontfoort.nl).
Photo credit: www.www.radiostadmontfoort.nl

The
Netherlands will soon change from orange to yellow this as Utrecht hosts Le Grand Depart
of the Tour
de France
. After five years, the festive start of the famous cycling race
returns to the Netherlands, marking a record sixth time that the race starts in
Holland, more than any other country outside of France.

When asked why tour
organizers seem to favor the Netherlands, Tour de France director Christian
Prudhomme cites not only the country’s geographical location, but its
enthusiasm for the sport. This characteristic zeal was noted in 1954 when the
first launch of the tour outside of France occurred in Amsterdam. L’Equipe, a French
national newspaper dedicated to sports, wrote: “All of the Netherlands seemed
to have gathered on the roads…Tens of thousands of spectators in closed ranks,
uninterrupted, for kilometers and kilometers, clapping, cheering for everything
that had to do with the tour, the cyclists, the motorcyclists…[in this way]
they made a triumph of the first stage!”  


Le
Grand Depart Travel Guide
The
2015 Tour de France is made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of
more than 3,300 kilometers (2,050 miles). The first two stages take place in
the Netherlands, and is a great opportunity to show the world that there is
more to the country than Amsterdam.
The Grand Depart of the famous cycling race, Le Tour de France is from Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Photo credit: www.duic.nl
The first stage of the tour begins in Utrecht on July 4 and is an 8.5 mile (13.7-kilometer) prologue, a flat course that will take the cyclists through the city, along the historic canals and under the Dom Tower, to determine who will start the tour in the yellow jersey.  

On July 5, the second stage commences, as the cyclists exit Utrecht, passing through Oudewater, a city famous for the Heksenwaag (witches’ scales), the weighing house for witches that offered persons accused of witchcraft an honest opportunity to prove their innocence.
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Next on the route is Rotterdam, where the last Grand Depart staged in the Netherlands took place in 2010.

 Gouda’s gothic town hall and the famous cheese market.

Lovers of cheese will be delighted as the cyclists ride through Gouda,
the charming town that has given the world the cheese baring its name, before passing through the fortified town of Hellevoetsluis.


The endpoint for the Netherlands portion of the Tour de France
is Neeltje Jans in Zeeland, an artificial island
constructed in the middle of the Delta
Works
.

Delta Works, a series of dams and barriers to prevent flooding,  in Zeeland, The Netherlands
Photo credit: www.neeltjejans.nl

This series of dams and barriers is often called the “eighth wonder
of the world” because its construction has reduced the
chances of another flood to once every 4000 years. 

More information about this exciting sporting event, including spectator tips, can be found in the original article, A Dutch start to a French Institution, which I wrote for Access Magazine, and can be seen here.