Geology of the Amstel Gold Race: for cycling commentators and their audience

The foundations of the Amstel Gold Race

The landscape that riders race through, and therefore the race itself, is the result of a long geological history. The Geo-Sports team knows that history, and tells the story of the geology under the course on the Geo-Sports YouTube channel. Geo-Sports is an initiative by Utrecht University and Naturalis Biodiversity Center, and this summer the team will also present the geology of the Tour de France.

We’ll be showing three things: first, the world of the Cretaceous period hiding under the hills of the Amstel Gold Race in South Limburg. It was a warmer world, with dinosaurs. We’ll also be visiting the Mosasaurus fossil in the Natural History Museum of Maastricht. And finally, we’ll show you one of the most famous locations in the world where you can see the 'K-T boundary' between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods; the moment when the dinosaurs faced mass extinction, says geologist Douwe van Hinsbergen, creator of the Geo-Sports team, Professor at Utrecht University and die-hard cycling fan.

A live broadcast of a cycling race is basically one big geological excursion.


Where did the idea for this initiative come from? A live broadcast of a cycling race is basically one big geological excursion, Van Hinsbergen explains. A lot of cyclists - and the people watching them - are interested in the landscapes they pass through as they race. And a lot of geoscientists love to follow bike racing. So maybe we can help the cycling commentators with our knowledge of the landscapes and their underlying treasures? 

Impact theory

Several earth scientists from the Netherlands and abroad have contributed to the Geo-Sports team. For the Amstel Gold Race, Van Hinsbergen has managed to bring in an especially big name in geology: Jan Smit, Professor Emeritus at the VU Amsterdam and one of the founders of the impact theory. The impact theory describes how a meteorite impact brought the reign of the dinosaurs to an end 66 million years ago.

Douwe van Hinsbergen tijdens de Tour de France kijkend naar de wielrenners
Prof. Dr. Douwe van Hinsbergen at the Tour de France.

Send pictures

The audience can follow us on Twitter via the account @GeoTdF, adds Van Hinsbergen. There’s also more information on the website Starting in June, cycling fans will be able to find detailed information about the geology of this year's Tour de France there too.