Tour de France to start in Brussels in tribute to Eddy Merckx

In 2019 the Belgian and Flemish capital will serve as the backdrop for the start of the Tour de France, one of the world's most prestigious cycling races. Holding the start, labelled the Grand Départ in French, comes in tribute to the iconic Belgian rider Eddy Merckx. In 2019 it will be exactly half a century ago that the five times winner of the Tour landed his first victory.

It was in 2012 that the Tour last started in Belgium. That was in Liège where the Tour also started in 2004. Charleroi (1978) and Brussels (1958) have also served as starts for the race in the past.

Johny Vansevenant, the author of "Eddy Merckx, the Biography": "During the news conference on the start of the Tour de France in Brussels Tour manager Christian Prudhomme was clear. He called Eddy Merckx "the greatest cyclist of all time". For Eddy too his first Tour win in 1969 was his greatest cycling achievement. He won the event with an overall lead over second-placed Roger Pingeon of 17 minutes and 54 seconds. Merckx won the most arduous stage from Luchon to Mourenx with its two cols in the Pyrenees, the Tourmalet and the Aubisque, with a lead of nearly 8 minutes. The 1969 Tour was an absolute top achievement with time differences not equalled since before the war. The start of the Tour in Eddy Merckx’s Brussels 50 years after that legendary Tour de France is a fitting tribute".