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The annual guessing game of where the Tour de France might start heated up again Tuesday.
There are already plenty of hints that the 2024 edition is set to begin in Italy. This weekend, an Italian official in the Piedmont region let it slip that stages will pass through the region, providing another clue that the Tour is Italy-bound in two years.
“I can already tell you that the Tour de France will arrive on our roads, which is to say the biggest sporting event in the world in terms of visibility. The 2024 edition will also pass in Piedmont, with an important stage in both Turin and Pinerolo. For the moment I can’t say more,” an Italian official said according to TuttoBici.
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With that, the official said more than enough.
The 2024 Tour’s “grand départ” is expected to be in Italy’s Tuscany region, with stages in Florence, Bologna, and Romagna before pushing west into Piedmont and a return to French roads in the opening week.
TuttoBici also reported that a stage would start in Emilia and end in Turin. The next day, Pinerolo would host a stage start before climbing the Alps to return to France.
Tour de France officials have yet to confirm the official departure city of the 2024 edition, but all indications point to Italy.
The event would pay homage to Italy’s great Tour riders, including Marco Pantani, Fausto Coppi, and Gino Bartali.
The venture into Italy would come in the same year that Paris will host the 2024 Olympic Games from July 26 to August 11.
There’s been speculation that the Tour and the Tour de France Femmes both might bypass Paris as the final stage in part to avoid security and logistical overlaps with the even more massive Olympic Games.
Italy has never hosted the high-profile “grand départ” event, though the Tour frequently dips into Italy.
The Tour has started on foreign roads on 24 occasions, with the first in 1954 in Amsterdam and the latest this summer in the wildly successful departure in Copenhagen.
The foreign starts have increased in frequency over the past few decades as the event produces high fees for Tour owners ASO as well as promotes the Tour brand to a wider audience.
The 2023 Tour is slated to start in Spain’s Basque Country, with three stages on Basque roads before returning to France.
The Tour is not quite as ambitious as the Giro d’Italia in taking its race to far-flung locations, and efforts to bring the Tour to such places as the United States, Canada, or the Caribbean have stalled due to distance, logistical, and travel complications.