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The 2024 Tour de France could look a lot different with plans in place to host a Grand Départ in Italy and a finish outside of Paris for the first time in the race’s long history.
According to a report by Gazzetta dello Sport, the 2024 Tour could start in Florence, at the Piazzale Michelangelo, and finish in Nice.
The reason for the change in finish location is due to the Olympic Games being hosted in Paris just days after the Tour de France is due to finish. With preparations in full swing for the multi-sport competition, the Tour organizers would like to try and avoid the capital, Gazzetta dello Sport said.
Meanwhile, the trip to Italy is part of an effort to honor the country’s history at the Tour de France 100 years after Ottavio Bottecchia took Italy’s first yellow jersey. The visit to Italy will last four days with the peloton passing through the hometowns of several Italian heroes, including Gino Bartali, Gastone Nencini, Marco Pantani, and Fausto Coppi, on the journey back to France.
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It would be the first time that either would have happened since the race was launched in 1903 with the capital city the traditional finishing place for the national event. Paris’ Parc des Princes stadium was the first finishing place for the Tour de France until 1967, while the Vélodrome de Vincennes played that role for a short period between 1968 and 1974.
Since 1975, the Champs-Élysées has been the centerpiece of the final stage with a sprint victory on the famous avenue one of the most prestigious wins in cycling. For the general classification riders, the final stage has largely been a ceremonious one, though Greg LeMond won the overall title by just eight seconds in a time trial on the Champs in 1989.
— Tour de France™ (@LeTour) May 24, 2022
It’s not clear whether the visit to Nice will mean a more competitive final stage for the GC riders or if it will be a day for the sprinters. Nice hosted the 2020 Grand Départ with Alexander Kristoff winning the opening sprint stage, while Julian Alaphilippe took victory in the more rolling second stage.
Foreign starts are becoming much more common in grand tour racing with this year’s Giro d’Italia kicking off in Hungary while the Tour de France is due to set off from Denmark. Though the Tour has previously visited Italy for stages of the race, the French grand tour has never started in the country.
The Italian “big start” has been in the working for some time and Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme visited Bologna in July 2020 to discuss a possible visit to the country.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, the regions of Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, and Piedmont pooled their resources to come up with €10m ($10.6m) through public and private investment to host the Grand Départ.
The sports paper reports that the first stage on June 29 will be from Florence to Rimini and set at around 180 to 190 kilometers. The second stage will begin in Cesenatico, the birthplace of Pantani, and head to Bologna, taking in some of the rolling hills to the south of the city in what should be around a 200km stage.
Stage 3, Gazzetta dello Sport says, will go from Modena to Piacenza through the Apennines. While the final Italian stage will head out from Pinerolo and make its way into France.