Eight guitars, playing for five hours and a dream Tour de France band: meet cycling's guitar hero

Joris Nieuwenhuis is far more likely to be seen perusing around a guitar shop than a cycling establishment

Joris Nieuwenhuis
(Image credit: Getty)

A point of pride for cyclists is boasting how many bikes they have hanging in their garage.

For Joris Nieuwenhuis, finisher of the last two Tours de France, his bike collection plays a very distant second in importance to his other love in life: the guitar.

The Team DSM rider may sit among the WorldTour peloton's lesser-known members, but you'd be hard pressed to find one of his riding colleagues who also counts eight or more guitars in their possession.

Music is Nieuwenhuis' hobby away from his job. "I learned when I stopped school and started becoming a pro cyclist, around five years ago," the Dutchman, 25, told Cycling Weekly at the Tour de France.

"I was like, 'Ok, Joris, what are you going to do with all the free time you have?' I really like guitar music, so bought myself a guitar and it just started from there. I have eight of them now."

When he gets back from training, once he's eaten a recovery meal, often the first thing he'll do is settle down and start making music.

"Sometimes I play for five hours a day," he said. "Sometimes less, but I just play until I want to. I just like it.

"When I start, I don't notice the time passing and I don't want to stop.

"It's the freedom I can get from it that I like the most. You can do whatever you want to do with a guitar: there are no limits, no boundaries.

"And there's never that feeling that you are too good. You always feel like you can be playing better, you can improve."

Nieuwenhuis' favourite type of genre is blues music, and he lists Rory Gallagher, Tom Morello and Peter Green as his favourite artists, although hurriedly added that "I can go on and name more, if you like."

Imitating his musical icons, however, isn't his usual style. "Actually, I just mostly play my own weird stuff," he modestly said of his typical performances.

"I never really learn songs: I just have the notes in front of me, read the riffs a little bit, play on a loop, record it, that kind of stuff."

Nieuwenhuis, whose best professional result was finishing third at last autumn's Paris-Tours, took his guitar to 2020's Tour de France, his maiden Grand Tour.

"I took it last year but realised I didn't have time to play it," he said. "But when I went home, it was the first thing I did."

Julian Alaphilippe plays the drums and when put to Nieuwenhuis then the duo should hook-up and form a band, the Dutchman was keen on the idea.

"I heard he played the drums," he said. "Pretty cool. So we just need a singer now. Maybe Emily [Brammeier, DSM's press officer] could sing for us.

"I know Sam Oomen plays the guitar so he can join as well. I have a bass but can't play two. Actually, you know Daniel Oss? He's a bass player."

So next year, in Paris, when the men's Tour ends and the women's race begins, the quintet can make their band debut? "Afterwards in Paris, yeah, we'll all play," he smiled.

Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.


Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter. His laptop is as important as his avalanche equipment when he goes ski touring, and he almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from mountains.