Cyclocross racing isn’t the only winter bike racing option in Europe – many in the ‘lowlands’ of the Netherlands and Belgium turn to beach racing. This past weekend, the Dutch Nath National Championships Beachracing was held in Egmond.
With a strong headwind Ike Groen and Stefan Vreugdenhil attacked from the start. They cooperated very well together and managed to arrive one minute ahead the peloton at the turning point after 21 kilometres. Also on the way back it all went well for this duo and it looked they would be the ones who had to battle for the red, white blue jersey.
“I had Ramses Bekkenk and Bram Rood in the group behind me and they protected my break away. Unfortunately on the way back Bram crashed on someone who was heading to the turning point. This gave three men the change to escape and catch up with us. There were two teammates of Groen in this three men group. I managed to counter one attack of this team but at the second attack I had to let the later winner Richard Jansen go. I am very disappointed because as a team we had everything under control and now we are left with empty hands.”, stated Vreugdenhil.
“Beach racing is hard to categorise because it is so different. It’s almost like saying you are a “Mountain Biker” without giving specifics about the style of riding” explains Page.
“A race in Belgium is different to a race in The Netherlands and Battle on the Beach in Wales is totally different. What they all share is that a portion of the event is on sand. In Belgium and especially in The Netherlands it is really big, with pro teams, prize money and specific bikes. The racing is almost 100% sand, it’s fast, fierce and incredibly demanding. It mixes road race tactics with off-road skills.”
“Battle on the Beach was created because I love the venue and I often used to ride in Pembrey Country Park and on the Beach. I wasn’t sure if others would see the appeal, but they obviously did. 2015 is the second event and all 500 places sold in 40hrs!” Page exclaimed. And that’s a big deal – especially considering the event opened almost right in the middle of New Year celebrations.
“It’s more mountain biking than road cycling with at least 60% of the riding off the beach. We opened it up to all bikes and we had pelotons on the beach with mountain bikes, cyclocross, fat bikes and specialist beach racers all mixing it up. It was awesome to see. For me I wanted to create something new, fun and different and hopefully I’ve achieved that.”