What's so great about it?
This international road
racing event for
professional cyclists has
been organised by
Heineken for many
years. It has the
reputation of being a
tough race. This year it
wil be held on Saturday
27 April. The course is
about 250 kms long and
passes through hilly
countryside in the South
Though the racing cyclists in the Amstel team are not
regarded as actual employees, there is certainly a close
link between Heineken and these true sportsmen.
Many Amstel team members, such as Joop Zoetemelk and
Gerrie Knetemann, turned professional after spending the
greater part of their amateur period racing for our brand.
Some remained faithful to us.
Arie Hassink is one of these. He has been a member of our
team for 17 years and that makes him the racing cyclist who's
been with us longest. We went along to look him up in the
East of Holland, where he has his own sportswear shop in the
village of Neede.
If Arie Hassink is not in the saddle or out training, you can find him here
selling sports goods in his shop in the East of Holland.
Arie is determined to keep entering
cycle races for a few years yet, but
then in less important events. He's
had to sacrifice an incredible amount
to reach the high spots in his career.
Early to bed, lots of training,
gymnastics and long-distance
running in the winter, at least one
hour every day. Yet it's all become
second nature to Arie. He wouldn't
change those habits now.
Why has he stayed so long with the
Amstel team? "It's a good
atmosphere", Arie explains, "and
team manager Herman Krott is
someone who knows how to keep a
tight grip on things. He's as hard as
nails, but also very human. When I
was ill for two years, he regularly
came along and visited me to cheer
me up or discuss things with me."
Twelve years ago Arie was taken ill.
He contracted a very serious lung
complaint. Just when he was on the
verge of turning professional. The
doctors thought he would never be
able to enter competitive events
againThey advised him not to make
a professional career out of his
hobby. That's one piece of advice
that Arie took to heart. He got back
on his bike again as an amateur and
continued his triumphant series of
victories. An average of ten wins
each year. That's what characterises
all racing cyclists: pedalling on
despite all the setbacks.
A few more years and Arie's age will
force him to stop cycle racing. A
shame, but he doesn't plan to sit
around and mope. He's already
preparing for the future and is
studying to become a qualified
cycling trainer. He's already taking
an interest in the progress of younger
cyclists and helping them on their
difficult road to the top. One of his
pupils had no idea at all how to cycle
properly when Arie first took an
interest in him. This year that same
young rider was in the squad sent out
to the Olympic Games. "That gives
me a feeling of satisfaction", Arie
What are the things that attract him
about cycle racing in general? "The
travelling. Working as an individual,
but then in a team. And, if you have
a chance of winning an eventit gives
you a tremendous kick", explains
Arie. "Winning makes you want to
go on to the next race. Even now I
still go to each race with the will to
win." He'll succeed in winning many
more times over the next few years.
That's something we're convinced
Arie Hassink in his element.
Arie Hassink, longest-serving member
of the Amstel cycle racing team.
Arie, looking younger than his 34
years, leaves his wife Antoinette in
charge of the shop while he has a
friendly chat with us in his living
room upstairs. His 3-year-old
daughter Areeke has been sent
downstairs to her mother and 3-
month-old son Arne doesn't make a
sound, he's fast asleep.
"I did spend one season riding as an
amateur for another Dutch team
before I joined Amstel at the age of
17. In fact, I came as the replacement
for Joop Zoetemelk who had just
turned professional. In that same
year I went along as a reserve to the
world championships in England. So
the top work started almost straight
away for me", says Arie.
He has had a lot of wins. He's been
the Dutch national champion.Twice
he's taken first place in Olympia's
Tour of Holland, a road race for
amateurs. He was present at the
Olympic Games in Montreal. As he
tells of his victories, he constantly
mentions the names of foreign
countries and places, for Arie
Hassink is one of the better Dutch
amateurs. He still rides regularly
today, but then almost solely in
The years have started to creep up
on him. Arie, too, has reached the
phase that every great sportsman has
to go through as he gets older. Arie
calmly: "Last year when I was
standing under the shower after a big
stage race in France, I knew for sure:
the top flight is over as far as I'm
concerned. I can't do it any more.It
must have come as a blow to him,
suddenly realising his best days were
But he's not one to get sad about it.
My hobby is flying. Dave Gibson of Dublin, high above Erin's Green Isle.
We met him on solid ground.
But more often than not his
head is up in the clouds. For
his hobby is piloting a plane. Dave
Gibson works as deputy head of the
Technical Beer Service in our depot in
Dublin (Ireland)He spends a lot of his
leisure time in planes.
"When I was only 16 years old I used to
listen in at the airport to the talks
between pilots and the control tower. I
wanted to fly even in those days, but
didn't have the money. It was not until
1980 that I was able to take flying
lessons. On my birthday in that year 1
went up for my first solo flight. Now
I'm 37", Dave told us. Now he's also
marriedwith a son of 6 and a daughter
aged 12. His daughter is the only one in
the family who would like to fly.if her
mother would let her. Mrs. Gibson
doesn't like planes at all.
Dave sits opposite us. It's plain to see
that flying occupies a very important
part of his life. It takes up an incredible
amount of his time as well. Not so
much in the cockpit as at home.
Because he has to do such an awful lot
of studying. He has to know all the
rules and regulations, everything there
is to know about navigation and radio
communications. And, last but not
least, about meteorology.
His eyes are of a crystal-clear blue.
Sparkling with life. They're
accustomed to looking at the blue
horizon. He's gained one diploma after
the other. As from this year he's been
allowed to do instrument flying. Now
he can fly anywhere, provided he
doesn't earn money by doing it. If he
did want to make a living out of it he'd
need a commercial licence and that's
almost impossible from a financial
point of view. He estimates it would
cost him as much as some 3,(XX) Irish
pounds for rental of planes, exam fees
and so on.
Why do you devote so much of your
time and energy to it, why do you
spend so much money on it?
Dave doesn't have an immediate
answer to this. He thinks for a
moment, his blue eyes staring absently
into space. "What attracts me is the
feeling of freedom up there in the air.
You have control over your machine.
That freedom is only possible if you
impose an iron discipline on yourself.
Because you have to stick to all the
rules. Otherwise you might be
endangering your own life and that of
others. It's that discipline that gives you
that freedom. Both of them together
make flying into a sort of addiction for
At the moment he'll fly his Cessna 182
and anyone to any place at all, as long
as they're willing to share the costs.
This is how he is able to get the most
enjoyment out of his hobby without
going bankrupt. "The only thing that
stops me getting up in the air is a lack of
cash. Flying for me is almost
compulsory", he adds.
What would be the best thing that the
future could bring for him? "To
become a helicopter pilot", he replies.
"An impossibility, as you need to have
had 100 hours flying experience. At
least, that's the case in Ireland. I've
worked out that altogether that would
set me back about 40,000 Irish
We took our leave of a born pilot. "Pity
that Heineken hasn't got its own planes
or a helicopter", we thought later. But
perhaps there are some, and we were
wrong. If so: should anyone want to let
Dave Gibson take them for a flight, his
address is: Depot Murphy's Brewery
Ireland, Cherry Orchard Industrial
Estate, Dublin (Ireland).
Pilots belong in the air.
Dave Gibson next to his plane.
Let him fly you somewhere.