Loading video player ...

"Eddy" has goose bump moment as Brussels soaks up Tour de France atmosphere

The Tour de France officially kicked off in Brussels yesterday with the team presentation. Riders cycled right through the historic centre (including the royal galleries) on a sunny evening in order to arrive at the Grand Place, the old market square, to get on stage for the final presentation and some interviews. However, the real hero of this opening day was the man for whom the world's biggest cycling event came to Brussels after all: Eddy Merckx, who grew up just outside Brussels and who won the event 50 years ago in one of the most impressive showdowns ever seen. (video also shows Greg Van Avermaet, Caleb Ewan and youngster Wout Van Aert) 

The event was attended by an estimated 75,000 enthusiasts. Eddy Merckx, who is not so keen to be in the spotlights, was clearly touched by the cheering crowd and the tribute. 

While the riders are still enjoying a day of rest today, smaller events will take place in the centre, including the Fan Park at the De Brouckère Square. 

Tomorrow, the opening stage will start and end in the capital, in order to finish in front of the Royal Palace in Laken. For the occasion, the VRT's late night Tour de France TV show, "Vive Le Vélo", was granted the permission by the king himself to use the castle gardens to stage the show. The show is staged in a mobile studio in open air on a different location each day, travelling together with the riders. 

Sunday's stage, a team time trial, will end at the iconic Atomium. Take into account that the event will cause mobility problems if you come to Brussels by car. The main advice is to use public transport. Public transport services have been boosted for the occasion, and the Brussels trams, buses and metros are free of charge in the weekend. For more information about which streets are being closed, you can visit the website of the Brussels police