The 41st edition of the Goudel Pijl cycling criterium will kick off on Sunday, 5 August in the center of Emmen. That will be exactly one week on from the finish of the Tour de France, which is a dream come true for the organizers of the event. The Gouden Pijl is traditionally held on the third Sunday after the end of the tour, but the timing of it has made it difficult to get the top athletes from the Tour.
For the residents of Emmen, the “lap around the church” is one of the high points of the year. The entire city gets swept up in the atmosphere of the competition.
Last year, the Emmen cycling event occurred 16 days after the athletes crossed the finish line in the Tour de France. The event organizers often have to compete with a number of other important cycling races being held in the same period. Because the cyclists are mainly interested in participating in criterium events in the week following the Tour, the organizers aim to draw in more yellow jersey winners and other top cyclists by changing the date of the event. They also hope that will translate into more spectators: “If the biggest names from the Tour participate in our event, that will have an impact the size of the crowd”, says Roelie Lubbers on behalf of the organization.
The Gouden Pijl and the cycling federation have agreed that it will be the only criterium held in the Netherlands on 5 August. That particular date is available because the Ronde van Tiel will not be held this year. The Gouden Pijl organizers are hoping to secure a fixed date for the event for the coming years.
Which cyclists will ultimately take part in the event in Emmen remains to be seen. The organizers typically reach out to the athletes following the biggest classic events and during the Tour de France. But it goes without saying that Lubbers is aiming for names like Peter Sagan and Tom Dumoulin. Last year, Bouke Mollema won the anniversary edition of the criterium.