The Giro has left Holland again and what a treat and spectacle it was! Loads of spectators, a party atmosphere, spectacular races in a scenic background and some happy racers and organizers. Although hosting the Giro has not come cheap and might possibly result in cost overruns, it has been pure promotion for the sports of cycling and for the country of the Netherlands. It shows again that Holland is perfectly able to host big events. One point of criticism: it would have been a great opportunity to leverage the sports to kids, a missed chance. Let’s hope this mistake will be corrected during the start of the Tour de France in Rotterdam later this year.

Giro in cycling mad Holland. The Giro has left Holland again and over the next few weeks will take place again on traditional soil in Italy. But what a celebration it was. Similar to the Vuelta, the Giro also managed to attract hundreds of thousands of spectators, who all seemed to enjoy the sports to the fullest. Holland is a cycling mad nation, where everybody is brought up on a bicycle (in fact Amsterdam counts more bicycles than habitants). In this perspective it is not surprising that the country embraces the few opportunities it obtains to witness the icons of the sports during one of the most important races of the season. Not surprisingly the organisers were happy with the great reception and support, as were a lot of the riders, many of them not being used to the enormous crowds.

Spectacular races in beautiful setting. The Netherlands coloured pink rather than orange during the first three days of the Giro, showing great hospitality. Watched by more than 150,000 people the race started with a time trial in Amsterdam on a pontoon in the middle of a pond in front of the Rijksmuseum and went on through a beautiful Dutch setting of Amsterdam canals and bridges to finish in front of the city’s Olympic stadium. The 2nd and 3rd stage were no different with beautiful pictures of the Dutch countryside including the famous Deltaworks, windmills and many waterways, again watched by hundreds of thousands people. Although plagued by many crashes (partly on the back of Holland’s “beloved” road furniture), the races were no way different than spectacular. Particularly the feared race to Middelburg brought everything you could wish for; side winds broke the peloton and resulted in huge time differences.

Economic benefits might have been overrated…….It remains to be seen whether the organisations in Amsterdam, Utrecht and Middelburg have been profitable. The costs in Amsterdam and Utrecht amounted to EUR 5.5mln and EUR 2mln respectively and are unlikely to have been fully covered by sponsoring. Nevertheless Amsterdam and Utrecht claim that the direct and indirect generated revenues are a multiple of the organisation costs. Amsterdam claimed it would generate revenues of EUR 25mln. It doesn’t require rocket science to conclude that this amount is unlikely to have been realised. The EUR 25mln was based on 500,000 visitors, whilst in reality it is unlikely that the 300,000 number has been passed. Clearly some of these people have taken the train, have smoked, taken the train etc. Some of them might even have stayed for the night but it remains the question whether incremental spending has been that substantial. Firstly many of the visitors were from Amsterdam itself and just took advantage of the occasion, secondly what would these people have spend when they would not have visited the Giro? Additionally one can state that some companies might even have suffered as their stores were difficult to reach. In any case the biggest economic impact might actually have come from the racing teams, organisation and journalists who stayed in Amsterdam for 3 days. That might add up to some EUR 3mln, but is still far off the EUR 25mln. We have to wait and see the outcome, but should not forget the unquantifiable effects before coming up with a verdict.

Social and promotional benefits substantial……The long term effects might be substantial. Firstly the Giro has been broadcasted in 160 countries, watched by many millions of people. As the Italian producers showed plenty of pretty pictures, Holland was shown at its best. Clearly this may result in future visitors of the country. In that perspective one can see the investment as advertising expenditure. As important are the social benefits. The Giro proved that big sports events are appealing to many, which is important for the country’s ambition to host the 2028 Olympic Games and should broaden the platform for support. Hosting the Giro also showed the country’s ability to organise and should help in attracting more events.  

Missed opportunity to leverage the sport. But benefits could have been even bigger. One of the pillars of the Olympic plan is the “Sports for All” ambition in which everybody should enjoy a life of sports. In this perspective particularly sports amongst children should be stimulated. The Giro would have been an excellent platform to leverage this ambition. Dressed in pink, loads of children witnessed the race. At least the Amsterdam organisation organized several side events on a local level, but I can imagine more could have been done, particularly on a national level. That is to blame the National Cycling Union (KNWU), they missed an opportunity to promote their sports to future members. Hopefully they correct their mistake when Rotterdam is hosting the Tour de France later this year! Ending on a positive note, watching the Giro is asking for more!