The Dutch Headwind Championships: bike racing or simply a battle with the elements?

Seventh edition of the championships sees riders battle 80km/h winds

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While professional riders battled it out in Valencia and at Bessèges on Sunday, a very different bike race was going on in the Netherlands.

The seventh edition of the Dutch Cycling Championships, the NK Tegenwindfietsen, took place on the Oosterscheldekering storm barrier on Sunday, which protects the country from the force of the North Sea.

The event can only take place in storm of wind force seven or higher on the Beaufort Scale. 

This year riders had to contend with gusts of up to 80km/h. It is a simple time trial along the storm barrier, over a course of 8.5km. The difficulty does not come from any gradients or a technical course, but from the elements themselves.

"The weather is really beastly. Due to the strong wind, it is by far the coldest edition,”  organiser Robrecht Stoekenbroek told THEN24.

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A total of 325 riders took part, divided into 25 teams and 225 individual riders. The event has been running since 2013.

All riders are given sit-up-and-beg city bikes to ensure an even playing field, there are no fancy aerodynamics at play here, just man and machine against nature.

Jurjun van der Velde took the men's title in a time of 20 minutes and 23 seconds, while Lisa Scheenaard took the women's event in a time of 22 minutes, 53 seconds. Scheenaard has won the last three editions, and is also an Olympic bronze medal rower.

Stoekenbroek said: "This edition sold out faster than ever, within three hours. I think it is a kind of therapy for the Netherlands after two corona years."

The event is only officially announced three days in advance, due to there needing to be strong winds for it to take place.

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.