BRUSSELS (AFP) — The 2019 Tour de France will start with two stages in and around the Belgian capital of Brussels in a tribute to Eddy Merckx, race director Christian Prudhomme confirmed Tuesday.
The first stage will measure 192 kilometers, setting off from the city’s Royal Museums of Fine Arts and will take in the Lion’s Mound on the battlefield of Waterloo, the hometown of soccer star Eden Hazard, and the Mur de Grammont, a steep climb used in the Tour of Flanders.
The following day will see a 28km team time trial from the Royal Palace to the Atomium, one of the city’s most famous landmarks.
The 2019 Tour will mark 50 years since the Belgian cycling legend Merckx first earned the yellow jersey on home soil at Woluwe-Saint-Pierre near Brussels, where his parents ran a grocery shop.
Now 72, “The Cannibal” won that year’s Tour de France and went on to win it a record-equalling five times overall, the last in 1974.
“It was important to start in the home city of the champion who has worn the yellow jersey more times than anyone else,” said Prudhomme.
The 2019 Tour will mark 100 years since the introduction of the yellow jersey.
Brussels last hosted the Tour’s Grand Depart in 1958.