The 2019 Tour de France will be the 106th edition of the Tour de France, one of cycling’ three grand tours together with the Italian Giro d’Italia and the Spanish La Vuelta. The Tour de France is also the third most viewed sport event in the world and broadcast in 190 countries around the world.
The start of the 2019 edition (known as Grand Départ) will be in Bruxelles in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first Tour won by Eddy Merckx, the greatest Belgian cyclist ever.
Brussels already hosted the start of the Tour de France in 1958, the year of the World Exhibition. In 1969, the year of the first overall victory of Eddy Merckx, the Tour passed in Brussels as well. The last time was in 2010, with an arrival of a stage starting in Rotterdam, already in honor of Merckx. During that stage, the peloton rode along Meise, hometown of Merckx, before finishing at the Avenue Houba de Strooper.
Le Grand Départ was also organized a few more times in Belgium: in 1975 in Charleroi, and both in 2004 and 2012 from Liège. Since 1947, the Tour de France in total has crossed the Belgian soil 47 times.
The 106th Tour de France will start on Saturday 6 July at the Place Royale in Brussels and ends on Sunday 28 July, as always, at the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
The tour de France in Bruxelles means:
Wednesday 3 July. Opening of the permanent and press centre at Brussels Expo;
Thursday 4 July. Presentation of the Tour de France teams at the Grand-Place;
Saturday 6 July. 1st stage, Bruxelles - Charleroi - Brussel;
Sunday 7 July. 2nd stage, Bruxelles Palais Royal - Brussel Atomium - team time trial.
Stage 1: BRUXELLES – CHARLEROI – BRUSSEL : 192 KM
The first stage of the Tour de France 2019 goes from Bruxelles via Charleroi back to Bruxelles (the finish line is set at Heysel at the Castle of Laeken).
There are quite a few irregularities in the course and the number of altimeters is around 800 meters. Whether a mass sprint stands in the way is another story. After the start on the Grote Markt, the Tour goes via Molenbeek and Anderlecht towards the Muur van Geraardsbergen, one of the mythical passages of the Tour of Flanders. The renowned cobblestone climb rises in 1.1 kilometers with an average of 9.2% and the steepest strip is almost 20%. The Wall does not have a decisive role, because if the men drive past the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Oudenberg chapel, they have much more than 100 kilometers to go. The same applies to the Bosberg, which the riders round a little later.
The course drops towards Enghien and Charleroi to head north there. The route crosses Villers-la-Ville, Waterloo, Overijse, Tervuren and Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, where Eddy Merckx grew up and in 1969 took his first yellow jersey ever. The Cannibal immediately won that edition. Four more would follow, making him record holder with Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain and Jacques Anquetil.
After Sint-Pieters-Woluwe it is another 10 kilometers to the finish at the Castle of Laeken and the final kilometer rises by approximately 4%.
Stage 2:BRUXELLES PALAIS ROYAL – BRUSSEL ATOMIUM : 28KM
Sunday, July 7, 2019 - The 2nd stage of the Tour de France is a 27-kilometer team time trial with start and finish in Brussels. There are four ascending strips in the route - all around 4% - while the roads in Brussels are wide and straight. Perfect trail for popping.
The starting stage is at the Royal Palace and the teams will pass by Bois de la Cambre on the south side of Brussels. Since the finish line is at the Atomium, on the north side, the teams cross the city center to get there.
Almost totally flat team-chronometer, in which the teams best equipped for this specialty can earn precious seconds in the standings, even if the distance is not excessive.
The Atomium was built in 1958 as part of the World Exhibition. For the same reason, Brussels organized Le Grand Départ for the first time that year.
Some facts about the 106th edition of the Tour de France:
50 years of the first victory of Eddy Merckx (1969);
100 years of the Yellow Jersey, worn 111 times by Eddy Merckx (record again today);
The Yellow Jersey will change every day at the Tour de France 2019. We are not talking about who will wear it, but concretely the symbol of the primacy itself, which will be different every day by honoring some of the symbols of the Grande Boucle. The novelty is introduced to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the introduction of the most famous cycling jersey.