On Whit Monday, 1800 cyclists pulled out of what is being described as a historically brutal edition of the Eleven Cities Cycling Tour in Friesland.
The tour, which follows a 235-kilometer route throughout the province, was hampered by exceptionally extreme weather from start to finish. In the end, 9,380 of the 11,700 participants managed to cross the finish line come ten in the evening on Monday.
In addition, this year’s edition of the tour featured the highest number of non-starters since the event’s inception in 1912. According to the Leeuwarder Courant, between five hundred and a thousand drop-outs typically occur per year. This year that number ballooned to well over three thousand.
“Still, I am surprised at how many participants have finished despite the extreme weather”, says Stephan Rekker, chairman of the Frisian Eleven Cities Bicycle Tour Foundation, in conversation with the Leeuwarder Courant. He feels that this year’s event was historic in every way: from the unprecedented weather conditions to the perseverance of the participants who did manage to cross the finish line.
Perseverance was surely the word of the tour, as cyclists battled through rainstorms and violent gusts of wind toward the finish line in Bolsward. It is there, according to the tour’s website, where the tour has started and ended for well over a century.
As a result of the severe weather, symptoms of hypothermia had begun to run amok among the participants of the tour reports the Leeuwarder Courant. At the finish line, ambulance personnel was even required to provide CPR.
Fortunately, however, the conditions reportedly had no effects of lasting or serious consequences on the participants.
This is not the first time that the tour has continued through poor weather. According to the tour’s website, in its long history, the event has only been canceled once in 2001 to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease.