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Etxeondo groet Nederland

The excitement of a Grand Tour. The excitement with which the Netherlands embraced La Vuelta was palpable days before the start of the race. La Vuelta started once before in the Netherlands, in 2009 on the Assen Moto GP track. The city of Utrecht, host of this year’s opening Team Time Trial, has welcomed a stage of all three Grand Tours. The Giro in 2011, the Tour de France Grand Départ in 2015 and now la Vuelta in 2022. No other city in any country has achieved this; this city loves cycling and the people love riding the bike. Etxeondo couldn’t miss this event and connected with all its Dutch friends, a shared passion and emotion for the sport of cycling. It was vibrant in each of those moments leading up to the race.
As if greeting a friend, ‘Etxeondo groet Nederland’, was our personal hello during the first week of La Vuelta. From Utrecht, with bike shop De Fietsenmaker, through Amsterdam, with cycling specialty shop Kaptein Tweewielers and the cycling group the Windjammers, to small-town Made in Brabant, with family business Rullens Tweewielers.
Each day featured an outing that delighted all the local fans. A new day. A new ride. A new group. A whole new exchange of experiences to discover. Fiets Magazine and Bicycling Nederland, cycling media and friends of Etxeondo, were also present, remembering previous stories around the last edition of the Basque Cycling Culture adventure.
The landscapes adorned by windmills, the characteristics of towns and cities caressed by bike lanes that connect any point of the country, the imagery of a country that the riders pass through following the rhythm of the routes, fuelled by the taste of a good cup of coffee. Mechanical breakdowns, the occasional puncture, summer rain and lively anecdotes were some of the ingredients that, at the end of the ride, brought out more than one smile among friends.
Although all of the social rides had their special memory, the longest route with 135 km, led by Amsterdam’s Kaptein Cycling Club, had a halfway stop at the wonderful point of the second stage of La Vuelta, 300 metres from the military base Vliegbasis Soesterberg.
There, a pop-up feed station awaited the 30 riders with delicious freshly brewed coffee and a varied buffet of different local snacks and sweets. With snacks and drinks in hand it was a feast to witness the passage of the race, allowing the group to enjoy the international peloton up close and personal. However, that was not the only moment that a social ride culminated with the passing of the cycling race. A day later, in Made, together with the Rullens Tweewielers family, the group was able to experience the passing of the third stage live on a lovely sunny afternoon.
On the sporting front, cheers came through for Equipo Kern Pharma, who were taking part in La Vuelta for the very first time, and also for the Euskaltel-Euskadi team, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary since its first participation. Both teams received the affection of the fans who were proudly waiting for them in the Netherlands.
These were days that will go down in the history of cycling in the Netherlands. But also in the memory of a whole group of people who longed for that moment: to confirm their unconditional love for cycling.
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