Utrecht’s Grand Départ has boosted Dutch cycling

When Belkin announced that it was withdrawing from cycling just a fortnight before this year’s Tour de France, it suddenly appeared that the Netherlands would join Spain in having just a single team at WorldTour level. Local sponsors were reluctant to commit following a string of doping confessions from Dutch stars of the past, and with no major backer in sight, team boss Richard Plugge turned initially to crowd-funded sponsorship and admitted he might have to run the squad on a very reduced budget.

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).