Assen: stage-by-stage overview
05 January 2014
The European Junior Cycling Tour is one of Europe’s most popular & prestigious events for young riders, taking place every summer in Assen in The Netherlands. Many British riders take part in the highly competitive week-long event to get an early taste of international competition.
Previously we published a first timer’s guide which passes on Paul Miller’s experience of taking his nine-year-old son to Assen for the first time. Today’s feature is written by Richard Maynard of Welwyn Wheelers CC. He and his wife have taken their three children to Assen several times already. Here he gives advice and an overview of each stage to help you prepare for the event.
We have been to Assen for four years now, with 2014 being our fifth visit. Our children are Joshua, now 19, and Daniel & Rebecca who are 16.
Like all parents coming from a non-cycling background our introduction to cycle racing was one of the steepest learning curves we ever been on, and Assen is another very steep curve on top of that. Our advice would be to repeatedly read the event’s website and buy large scale maps of the area:-
Also, do simply ask people for advice. Asking strangers can seem hard but our experience is that the British contingent is very friendly and happy to help with the problems of timings, logistics, food, etc..
Arrive at the event a few days early to acclimatise. Then, perhaps while your rider is out spinning their legs, spend time looking at and visiting the race’s various locations.
The event takes the form of six stages, one of which is a prologue. Note that the event is tweaked every year to make it more interesting but the prologue, Klassiker and final day criterium have been constants on all of our visits. Do check the specific 2014 race details when they are available on the event website.
The event starts with a short 1km Prologue individual time trial in Assen town centre. Start times are posted on the website and on the board at Race HQ at the stadium/campsite. As the photos show, the start is from a ramp and trailer set-up and there’s an out-and-back route with a sharp hairpin turn at the halfway point.
Criterium – Goudkust
This takes place in a suburb of Assen, east of the railway. This will probably be the first time your rider experiences massed pens and starts. A draw is made at the pen to roughly establish starting position. This consists of ten balls numbered 0 to 9 which, when drawn, correspond to the last digit of your race number. There is also a random gear check.
The course is tight with the first corner being a deciding factor. Again, visit the course beforehand and practice.
A long point-to-point road race with full “autobus” of escort vehicles. For Daniel’s Nieuwelingen (i.e. Under 16) race last year I counted sixteen (!) motorbikes, as well as other support vehicles. This is a master-class in organisation by the event promoters, with different categories starting at different points and different times along the course.
A short time trial which has been held at different locations over the years. Again, the start times are posted on the website and on the board at Race HQ.
Omloop – Kostvlies
This is a race held in a village out of town and on its surrounding roads. The key factors in this stage are the farmyard cobbles and pavé (i.e. cobbled road) on certain sections of the routes. The racing is often fast and splits the field quickly.
Criterium – Asserbos
The final day! Everyone is tired but the riders race like it’s the last day of the Tour de France. There are tight corners and sections of energy-sapping pavé. The prize ceremony takes place after the last event.