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Presenting Eroica Limburg

February 4, 2016

Photo from left to right: Richard van Beek, Bennie Ceulen, Bert van Marwijk, Jan Smeets, Jan Janssen, Giancarlo Brocci, Leo van Vliet, Roy Packbier, Iwan Linckens.

The first edition of Eroica Limburg will take place in Valkenburg, not far from Maastricht. Today we publish the enthusiastic email we received from Giancarlo Brocci the day after the press conference to present the project. We are happy to report on the birth of the event in this way, because Giancarlo’s email really has the flavour of a handwritten letter, just like old times... Before reading on, imagine that you are opening the envelope, taking out the letter, then sitting into an armchair to read it.

The whole experience was amazing, including the pleasure of working with Angela and Livio. We were booked into a nice hotel in front of the train station, the oldest in Holland, and were shown a photograph, taken right there in 1948, of Fausto Coppi with his Belgian coach of that year, Driessen.
In Valkenburg, the area chosen for the Eroica, the people breathe cycling and bicycles can be found on every corner. It is centrally located between Holland, Belgium and Germany (both borders are just over 20 km away), in the region of Limburg in which much cycling history has been written.  
Several streets are named after cyclists and cycling monuments can be found at various roundabouts in the town. The Amstel Gold Race is a permanent presence (with a bar, the Kauberg climb, the finish line and shops...) and the centre of the town (about 8,000 habitants) is notably charming and elegant. There are lots of hotels because this is a popular tourist area. It is visited by cyclists (the only hills in Holland are to be found here) and gamblers (there’s a casino). It is close to various tourist destinations such as Liege, Cologne and Maastricht. Its caves host Christmas markets during much of November and December and it is home to an extraordinary music festival that brings about 70,000 people to the town (including the top names in rock, from the Rolling Stones down).
Here, the same group organises the Amstel Gold Race and sportive (17,000 participants chosen from among 30,000 applicants) and the impression you get, starting from Iwan, is of real efficiency. We had something to eat with them and shortly before the press conference we met more or less all those involved, including the testimonials: all noteworthy characters, at least judging from first impressions.
Among the testimonials were Jan Jansenn, world champion 1964, winner of the Tour in 1968, the Vuelta in 1967 and Paris-Roubaix etc., an extraordinary champion. Then, our “Gaiole” men, Leo Van Vliet and Benny Ceulen, as well as a top level football coach and, of course, the organiser of Limburg’s renowned music festival, a boss in his field.
Personally, I was welcomed like a star, not just for the interviews but because the people have obviously understood the importance of the Eroica, apart from being a successful event, of which there is no shortage in Valkenburg. I was able to speak to lots of people in French, which is widely understood in the area, thanks to its proximity to Liege and Walloon Belgium.
I must say, it was a pleasure to be asked about the origins of the Strade Bianche; I had 3 copies of my book with me and they were useful and appreciated.
The press conference started, with lots of people, shortly after 2pm, at the train station, which now houses a lovely bar-meeting point. The host divided his time well among all those who spoke, including the political representatives, and then there was space for a round table with the five testimonials. A few appropriate questions about the creation and values of L’Eroica were put to me and translated by Angela and by the host (the conference was conducted entirely in Dutch).
The cycling history of Valkenburg, which has hosted five World Cups, came to the fore, with the 1948 Cup marking the climax of the rivalry between Bartali and Coppi. The World Cup of ’79, when Battaglin was helped to fall in the sprint that was won by Jan Raas, is also famous.
Everything was excellent, including the bikes, valuable jerseys and lovely photos which were prepared for the conference. I don’t think any further details are necessary; my impression, for a whole list of reasons, including the short film that was shown, is that we are dealing with an event that can emulate Britannia and its festival. 
Afterwards we went with Iwan to see the town centre, the logistics and some sections of the route, including stretches of dirt road.
My simple conclusion is that everything is pointing towards an extraordinary edition of Eroica. Compliments to those who seized the opportunity, the contacts and the potential, which is there in bucket loads.

Best Wishes

Giancarlo 

 



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