The Spanish grand tour has only twice started outside of Spain, in 1997 and 2009.

BILBAO, Spain (AFP) — The southern French city of Nimes will host the start of the 2017 Vuelta a España, organizers confirmed Friday.

Race director Javier Guillen told a press conference ahead of the 13th stage of this year’s event in Bilbao that the idea came to him when he attended a bullfight in the southern French city in 2012.

“I liked this city and I made contact with city officials in Nimes, with whom there was an instant rapport because they love Spanish culture. We’ve been working on this project for several years now,” said Guillen, who was accompanied by Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme.

The 72nd edition of the Vuelta will get underway on August 19, 2017, and will have at least two stages on French soil.

It will be just the third time the race has started outside of Spain — it began in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon in 1997 and in Assen, Netherlands in 2009.