- The race 2011
- All about the race
• Stage town on 10 previous occasions
• 192,000 inhabitants
• Head of the canton of the Province of Liège (Belgium)
The Province of Liège boasts an international experience that no other region in the world can lay claim to: it is the only community that has hosted three major Tours. It has frequently been visited by the Tour de France since 1948, with a stage win there that year for Gino Bartali, the future winner of the race. It also hosted the Official Start of the Giro d’Italia in 2006, at Seraing, as well as a stage of the Vuelta a España in 2009, at Liège.
Liège will be on a par with Brussels at the top of the list of foreign cities that have hosted the most Tour de France stage finishes (9). Among the first eight winners in Liège, seven have worn the Yellow Jersey during their career: Gino Bartali, Fritz Schaer, André Darrigade, Rik Van Looy, Henk Lubberding, Johann Bruyneel and Fabian Cancellara. Moreover, it was here that the promising Swiss champion, who had already excelled in the time-trial for young riders, revealed himself to the general public, by beating Lance Armstrong in the prologue in 2004. That is how Cancellara spent his first day on the Tour de France.
In the history of cycling, Liège is above all the starting and finishing point of the oldest of the Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège. During the Tour, the stage starts which have taken place there have led the riders to Lille or Roubaix for the most part. The last time, in 2004, the peloton travelled to Charleroi where Jaan Kirsipuu won his fourth stage of the Tour. In 1948, another stage set off from Liège, the day after Bartali’s victory: on that day, France’s Bernard Gauthier won the stage ahead of a certain… Jaan Kirsipuu, the namesake of the former rider from the AG2R team and an Estonian like him.