The 2019 Tour de France will be departing in style from the Belgian capital, Brussels in celebration of the legendary Eddy Merckx as next year will mark 50 years since his first Tour de France victory in 1969. He impressively went on to win five Tours between then and 1974. As a Belgian countryman and one of, if not – the most decorated cyclist of all time, it only seems right to honour his incredible success and have the Tour de France’s Grand Depart there.
2019 will also mark the 100th year since the beginning of the prestigious yellow jersey, or ‘Maillot Jaune’ that the leader of the race famously wears from Stage One through to final honours.
Brussels is no stranger to the Tour de France, having already welcomed the race 11 times in it’s history. Considering this and Belgium’s emphatic passion for cycling, it’s safe to assume the capital will be putting on a show!
What’s in store for the Grand Depart from Brussels:
STAGE ONE Saturday July 6th
Brussels-Charleroi-Brussels – 192km: A predicted Sprint finish on a mostly flat opening Stage. It would be rude not to include a few Belgian bergs, however so watch out for some action up the iconic Muur. Here’s a glimpse at what to look out for on Stage One…
Muur van Geraardsbergen (Mur de Grammont):
The Muur van Geraardsbergen, most commonly referred to as ‘The Muur’ is a famous Belgian climb. Iconic to cycling due to its inclusion in one of the most exciting, challenging one day races of the year – The Tour of Flanders. It has been sporadically part of the Flanders parcours since 1950 and since has created quite a name for itself – renowned for its cobbles and steep-unforgiving nature. Short in length at just over a km but reaching gradients of up to 19.8%. It is a true Belgian Classics berg and will no doubt be a real spectacle to see the peloton blitz up there in the opening Stage of the 2019 Tour de France.
On route return from Charleroi, the peloton will pass the foot of the Lion’s Mound; a large, artificial cone-like hill that was constructed between 1820-26 and marks the battlefield where Napoleons’ troops caught a glimpse of defeat at Waterloo, or more specifically; a musket ball hit the shoulder of William II of the Netherlands during battle, knocking him from his horse!
The Stage will hit the town of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre in the closing km’s where Eddy Merckx was born in 1945. He was raised there by his parents who ran a grocery store and found his passion for two wheels on the Woluwe-Saint-Pierre roads at the young age of three. To add to it’s significance, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre is where Eddy wore his very first yellow jersey on June 29th, 1969.
STAGE TWO, Sunday July 7th
Brussels Palais Royal-Brussels Atomium – 28km (Teams Time Trial): Today a new Maillot Jaune winner may likely be crowned, unless the Stage one victor has the team strength to back up his day one success. Sure to be a real spectacle departing from the Royal Palace and heading via the impressive Brussels Park, through the wide avenues of Brussels city and eventually concluding alongside the famous Atomium.
THE ROYAL PALACE
The Teams Time Trial will depart superbly from the stunning Royal Palace of Brussels; the official palace of the King and Queen of Belgium and located in the centre of Brussels city.
Its establishment began in 1783 and was completed in 1934 – rich in history and a truly stunning sight to see. It is now solely used for administrative purposes of the Royal family and symbolises Belgium’s constitutional monarchy.
The race will then zip by the beautiful Brussels Park; the largest public park in Brussels city and lined with monuments and lime trees. Created between 1776-1783 it is a must-visit when in Brussels and is surrounded by; The Belgian House of Parliament, The Palace of Justice, The Royal Palace and the Place du Trôn.
The course will end with a powerful, final straight section alongside the unique ‘Atomium’; an abstract landmark building that was originally created in the capital for the 1958 World Fair exhibition.
The now museum consists of nine connected steel spheres, with the centre representing the shape of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. Tubes connect the spheres and inside are stairs, escalators and an elevator. Five of the nine spheres are accessible and consist of a restaurant, exceptional panoramic viewing spots of the city and exhibit halls.
The VIP Grand Depart from Brussels will without doubt to be a real showcase in 2019 and with the honorary anniversaries set to take place, it will certainly be a unique occasion to be part of. To enjoy every moment and catch all the very best action, we have designed an itinerary that will guarantee a once in a lifetime experience. Check it out and register for 2019, here.