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Dutch national championships could relocate to Austria in search of mountains

Joe Robinson
29 May 2019

Idea being considered in order to attract top cyclists such as Tom Dumoulin

The Netherlands is as flat as the atmosphere at the annual general meeting of traffic wardens. It is the third flattest country on Earth, beaten only by the Maldives and Qatar. The entire nation averages only 30m above sea level while its highest point is Vaalserberg which sits at a mere 322m.

Not only does this mean that those dropping a grudge are restricted to metaphorically taking the high ground rather than literally taking it, it also means that racing in the Netherlands tends to be quite flat.

With a lack of beastly climbs, the Dutch have to rely on the low, rolling hills of the Limburg region and the howling winds of the North Sea to make any sort of professional racing worth watching.

And it's no different when the annual national road races role around. It's often a course designed for the quick, hardy and powerful. Recent champions Dylan Groenewegen, Niki Terpstra and Chantal Blaak are all testament to that.

With that being the case, the best often fail to turn up. In recent years, Tom Dumoulin, Wout Poels, Bauke Mollema and Steven Kruijswijk have all skipped the nationals.

Some of the world's best climbers, they consider the flat parcours of the nationals a pointless race for their own ambitions with the risk of crashing against the reward of winning too high.

This has got the Dutch cycling federation thinking: How can we get these riders racing the national championships?

It seems as if the answer may lie in Austria.

According to Algemeen Dagblad in the Netherlands, Jumbo-Visma sports director Richard Plugge suggested moving the championships abroad to attract more riders and the national body is considering the option.

KNWU director Thorwald Veneberg confirmed that taking the road race to Austria or Germany was not off the cards and may act as a viable way of attracting the likes of Dumoulin and Poels to participate.

The biggest stumbling block, according to AD, is the issue of money. Usually, the hosting region of the championships would pay for the privilege and the chances of a foreign country paying for the right to host somebody else's championships are low.

If this can be resolved, then a Dutch national championships is the Austrian Alps could happen within the next few years.

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