Ieper welcomes Tour de France next year

The Tour de France, the world's biggest cycling event, will make a stop in Belgium next summer. The West-Flemish city of Ieper will have the honour to act as a starting place. This was confirmed by Yves Leterme, the former Belgian Prime Minister who lives in Ieper.

Mr Leterme (photo) has been putting a lot of effort in lobbying. Next year was a perfect opportunity to get the Tour de France to Ieper, because of two reasons: the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War in 1914, in which Ieper played a central role, and the fact that the Tour starts in England.

The first three stages will bring the riders from Leeds to London. Afterwards, the riders arrive back on the continent. Ieper is located in the area. At the same time, a passage would highlight Ieper's role in the First World War on the eve of a series of commemorations (photo below: the Menin Gate).

Details will follow next Wednesday, when the Tour de France 2014 course will be officially presented in Paris. Mr Leterme, a cycling aficionado himself, will attend the presentation in the Palais des Congrès in Paris. Ieper is expected to act as the starting place in stage 4 or 5, Mr Leterme confirmed the VRT.

The Tour of France last visited Belgium in 2012, when the 99th edition started in Liège. The 101st edition next year will start in Leeds on 5 July, in order to come to an end 22 days later in Paris.