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World Ports Classic added to European calendar

Huge crowds lined Rotterdam for the Tour's depart.

Huge crowds lined Rotterdam for the Tour's depart. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

A new two-day stage race, the World Ports Classic, will take place August 31-September 1, 2012. The event was launched overnight by the ASO, with early details about the race released. Feted to start in Rotterdam and finish in Antwerp, the race will be categorised 2.1, with 18 teams expected to attend.

Speaking at the launch Christian Prudhomme, said the race had been a long time coming.

"It's exciting to have a new race in Belgium," said Prudhomme. "This is a new experiment, a new race crossing between two iconic cycling countries."

Though the exact nature of the stages is yet to be released, Prudhomme specified that each day would be no longer than 180 kilometres in accordance with UCI regulations, and that the course would have some similarity to the Tour de France stage that passed through the area in 2010.

"Whilst cycling is successfully exported to all continents, old Europe is also showing it can be pro-active," said a following statement from the ASO. "It is not by chance that the initiative stems from the two countries where bicycles have a greater right of way than anywhere else in the world. It is also natural that an elite race should link the Netherlands to Belgium, each country having given so much to the history of cycling."