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Facilitating and anticipating needs during largest cycling event in the Benelux in 2023
The Brabant village of Hoogerheide, not far from Antwerp, hosted the Cyclo-cross World Cup. Over 50,000 visitors from all over the world enjoyed a weekend of this top-level competitive sport on two wheels. Boels Rental was selected as rental partner for the event by Team TOC. Time to take a closer look at this collaboration, with Team TOC project manager José van Laarhoven, during a weekend coloured orange not only by Dutch cycling dominance.
We spoke with José van Laarhoven just after one of the medal ceremonies. As project manager for Team TOC, she is responsible for event support for the Cyclo-cross World Cup. Team TOC supports the local organisation, GP Adrie van der Poel, during the World Cup, which is held in a different country every year. The foundation has been doing this with a loyal group of volunteer professionals for years, with Team TOC leveraging its own expertise to take as much work off the foundation’s hands as possible.
This year, the whole cycling circus descends on cycling-mad Hoogerheide. Normally, the village has just under 9,500 residents. During the weekend, there will be an additional 50,000.
That is also where the biggest challenge lies, José explains. ‘When we start the preparations, there is nothing here at all – no power, no water, no internet – there is just a grassy field and that is all we have to work with. This means we have to have everything brought in by Boels and other partners, and unfortunately much of that is still run by generators.’
“Yes, sustainability is an increasingly important aspect within all our projects. For instance, we seek to hire more environmentally friendly machines – including the Stage V and hybrid light masts, like we have here”
As far as that is concerned, the organisation has a strong desire to work more sustainably, but for so many guests at this location that is still a hard nut to crack. ‘Yes, sustainability is an increasingly important aspect within all our projects. For instance, we seek to hire more environmentally friendly machines – including the Stage V and hybrid light masts, like we have here – we work with partners from this region as much as possible and we try to keep transport movements to a minimum. And on this front, Boels is indeed a very big player with a strong regional presence. There are few parties that can provide 120 porta potties and 95 four-bay urinal pods within the event region, to name but one example.’
Boels Rental is a trusted partner for the local organisation and TOC. We have worked with the GP Adrie van der Poel and TOC on various events for years, key account manager Dré Hermans tells us. ‘A World Cup is always special, of course. Purely in terms of the visitor numbers and the exposure. As Boels, you contribute to a few critical systems on behalf of the organisation, and we are proud of that.’ Among other things, Dré is referring to the many machines (e.g forklifts, telehandlers), as well as the sanitary facilities, cashier stations, hybrid light masts, security camera masts and side-by-side quads (for patient stretcher transport).
Oh, do you have that too?
‘In the conversations that followed, our role in the project only grew larger. That was partly due to a lack of knowledge about all that Boels can provide – and that is not meant as criticism. It is just nice when during these discussions a customer says “Oh, do you guys have that too?” Of course, this is our business! But what is more important is to help the customer, brainstorm with them and come up with solutions that work and are efficient. That is my task, on behalf of Boels.’
The example Dré cites concerns the security cameras. The large VIP pavilion, which will accommodate 3,300 guests during the event, was erected back in December. ‘During a tour of the site, I wondered aloud how we could secure this huge property at this remote location. I suggested the idea of installing a couple of camera masts through Boels Site Security, in addition to the measures already in place. It turned out to be the right move: the building was left untouched.’
Collaboration contributes to success
As José leads us across the grounds towards the media centre, she makes a relaxed impression. ‘Yes, I am. Thanks to our team, volunteers and partners, we have everything under control. This is mainly due to the expertise within the foundation, the many volunteers who know what they need to do and my colleagues from Team TOC. My role here now is mostly just putting out fires,’ she says with a smile.
‘Of course, something can always happen, but we partner with reputable companies, of which Boels is one. The nice thing about working with Boels is that we have a single point of contact. Nowadays, more and more companies offer that, but Boels takes it a step further by relieving us of many responsibilities, working with us to find solutions and, above all, being there to help whenever help is needed. That is exactly what we need, and it is part of what makes it possible for us – as Team TOC, on behalf of GP Adrie van der Poel – to maintain a low-stress atmosphere where we feel that everything is under control. In other words, this collaboration significantly contributes to the success of the entire event, which at the end of the day is what it is all about.’