There was actually low public attention when 40 years ago in 1974 the most famous inhabitant of Woerden Arie van Vliet the riders let start for the 1st Pro criterium race of Woerden.
Around the tribune at the start and finish at the Vossenschanslaan were the necessary spectators but the inhabitants of the Staatsliedenkwartier area of Woerden were only showing up marginally. This changed the second year . The former organizing committee of the Wielerronde Woerden had managed to attract the absolute cycling superstar of the moment: world champion - and Tour winner Eddy Merckx himself! Not only from the region but from large parts of the country audience came to Woerden. Merckx put a handful of distinguished servants of the ball at his hand and referred young talents such as Jan Raas, Roy Schuiten and Cees Priem to the lower steps of the podium. "Woerden" was on the cycling map! But the organizing committee wanted more.
Sport and entertainment
In 1976 a dream came true, Profronde of Woerden moved to the city centre with start and finish at the "hump" in the Rijnstraat and Hogewal as most challenging obstacle. "We firmly picked up from then," says co-founder and former chairman Piet Hubert. "We wanted more than just a professional race and invested about 25% of our budget in a lot of extra activities and entertainment. We organised a concert with Frank Boeijen Group, Avro's TopPop, picked the most popular artists of that time as cheer leaders and used a Tour de France motor for live commentary from the course, organized fat tire races, derny races, the City run with Gerard Nijboer, ladies competitions and the highly popular tandem race that many large names joined. From Dik-voor-mekaar show men to Luv', Babe, Patricia Paay, Dolly Dots, Vulcano, Doris D and The Pins, Mai Tai as well as guys like Hein Vergeer and Evert van Benthem. It was this combination of sports and entertainment that attracted more peaple to Woerden year after year. The Profronde of Woerden was one big party. "
Imposing list of winners
The professionalism of the organization, the massive turnout of the audience, the atmosphere and speed of the track and the ever-growing support of the business community made the big cycling names like come to "Woerden". And provided value for money! On the cutting edge was battled for the prices and Leader Price of 1000 Guilders, a solid amount in those years. It made each year a rousing race final with winners of reputation. As Jan Raas won in 1978, 1980 and 1983, Knetemann in 1979 and 1985, Joop Zoetemelk in 1982, 1984 and 1987. Interestingly, many other winners still active in the international peloton, as well as team leader or commentator. Henk Lubberding (1981), Johan van der Velden (1986), Adri van der Poel (1989), Frans Maassen (1991), Peter Pieters (1992) and Tristan Hofman (1993-1999) are some examples.