350,000 people brave the heat for Tour de France in Utrecht

Tour de France 2014Tour de France frenzy hit Utrecht over the weekend as 350,000 people braved the heat to line the city streets for Saturday’s time trial and Sunday’s Grand Départ.

King Willem-Alexander and Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb – one of the cities hosting the second stage on Sunday – were also among the crowd which watched the Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara take the yellow jersey in the 13.7 kilometre individual time trial on Saturday.

Around 30 people became unwell because of the temperature, with seven of them needing hospital treatment. But problems with road traffic and public transport did not materialise, despite the closing off of the entire centre of the city.

Second leg

The second Dutch leg of the Tour de France was a race from Utrecht via Rotterdam to the Zeeland island of Neeltje Jans, which forms part of the country’s flood defences, from where the cyclists will head into Belgium.

Sunday saw the weather break with heavy rain and thunder during the middle stages of the race. This did not, however, deter fans from lining the route to the finish, where the German André Greipel was first over the line.

Tom Dumoulin was the first of the Dutch riders to finish, coming in eighth. This gave him third place in the overall ranking and the white jersey. The rest of the Dutch riders finished well back in the peloton.

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