The yellow jersey: a Belgian affair
Cycling fans naturally have a special affection for Belgium and what it inspires. During its entire history, the Tour de France has witnessed the joy of being welcomed by its favorite neighbors on 47 occasions ever since its first visit to Brussels back in …1947. To celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the Yellow Jersey that appeared in the peloton in 1919, it naturally heads to its second nation! After all, the lords of La Grande Boucle, in other words the members of the « club of five » have left their footprints on the roads of Belgium. In 1957, it was in Charleroi that Jacques Anquetil discovered the jersey of light. In 1969, well before becoming the greatest cyclist of all time, Eddy Merckx also wore it for the first time in Belgium, precisely in Saint-Pierre-Woluwe where his family’s grocery store was still settled. Bernard Hinault was the title-holder in 1979 when he won the Brussels time-trial and regained precious time on Joop Zoetemelk… before triumphing a second time. Finally, Miguel Indurain despite riding far away from his usual roads felt at ease between Huy and Seraing where he captured in 1995 one of his last victories in a time-trial and conquered the fifth and final Yellow Jersey of his prestigious collection.
And there are so many interesting links to the past. Other than the absolute masters of the game, dozens of stage hunters or overall winners of the Tour have carried the yellow jersey in the provinces of Belgium, from René Vietto to Fabian Cancellara, not forgetting Gino Bartali, Francesco Moser, Tom Boonen or more recently Vincenzo Nibali. Ancient or contemporary, the champions of the Tour all carry in their own way a message of admiration for the bicycle… that vehicle that has resisted better than any other to time and different generations. In that domain, the capital of Belgium and Europe continues to show the way by favoring the use of bikes at a very large scale. In Paris or in Brussels, from Velib’ to Villo!, we all speak the same language. In 2019, the two cities will be linked by le Tour.
Director of the Tour de France
Grand depart once again
Our champion cyclists shone in races across Europe but the most prestigious competition alluded them. Sylvère Maes was the last Belgian cyclist to add his name to Tour history in 1939. Thirty years later, at last came Eddy Merckx! He won not just the Yellow Jersey in Paris, but all the individual titles. The Belgians’ long wait was well and truly over. Our Eddy became a star on 20 July 1969 whilst during the night of 21 July, Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon.
The Tour de France has the magic power to remind us all of other milestones outside sport.
The 2019 Tour de France Grand Départ will be an opportunity to pay tribute to Eddy Merckx on the fiftieth anniversary of the first of his five wins, but also to celebrate 100 years of the Yellow Jersey. A yellow jersey that Belgian riders have taken back to Paris on 18 occasions.
Mayor of Brussels
Fellow sports fans
I’m delighted to welcome you today to present the route of the 2019 Tour de France Grand Départ in Brussels. Quite simply, it will be the world’s most watched sporting event in 2019! It’s a huge honour for our city to be chosen and I know that Belgians will celebrate the Grand Départ in fine style. We’re also celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Yellow Jersey and fifty years since the first Tour win of its most frequent wearer: Eddy Merckx, the greatest Belgian sportsman of all time.
Over sixty years after the last Grand Départ in Brussels in 1958, this will be our opportunity to showcase our beautiful city to everyone who loves the Tour. Brussels has a strong tradition of hospitality and I’m sure that its residents will enjoy sharing the excitement with visitors who spend those few days with us. The route will also bring Belgium’s stunning scenery, in both Flanders and Wallonia, to billions of television screens around the world. I know that it will provide the perfect backdrop for the world’s top cyclists to give us a fantastic race!
I’m looking forward to seeing you at our celebration of cycling in July 2019!
Head of Sport with Brussels City Hall
So proud and such an honour
How proud we are that the 106th Tour de France will start in Brussels! One of the world’s biggest sports events is coming to Belgium on July 2019, with a stage passing through Flanders and Wallonia on Saturday 6 and a team time trial in our capital on Sunday 7 July.
It will be the fifth time that the Tour has started in Belgium after 1958, the year of the Brussels World Fair, 1975, 2004 and 2012. It’s an honour for our region and our country, which has produced several outstanding cyclists.
Nineteen municipalities will be crossed by this now legendary race. It’s a treat for cycling fans, as well as for the entire hospitality industry. The economic benefits of welcoming some 4,500 people will clearly have a significant impact on our region and I welcome that with great delight.
An event of this magnitude can only showcase Brussels outside its borders. I’m confident that our sense of hospitality, professionalism, culture and delicious food will delight them all!
Minister and President of the Brussels-Capital Region
BRUSSELS, MORE THAN JUST A CAPITAL
Capital of Belgium and seat of the European Union, the City of Brussels is located in the heart of the Brussels-Capital region and surrounded by independent suburbs.
The City of Brussels is divided into several different areas:
The Pentagon. An historic centre with ancient walls, it takes its name from its five-sided shape. It’s full of surprises and hidden areas to explore. With the Grand-Place, Manneken-Pis, Atomium, all manner of parades, Winter Wonders chalets, Brussels Beach and lively festivals, there’s always something new to see and do in central Brussels.
To the north are the old villages of Laeken, Haren and Neder-Over-Heembeek, which merged with the city in 1921. These three areas of Brussels have their own identity and show another side to the city.
Not forgetting the Northern Quarter, Quartier des Squares, European Quarter, Quartier Louise and the stunning Bois de la Cambre.
Brussels also has many innovative projects: sustainable development, local regeneration, participatory budgeting, community initiatives, a rich and varied cultural and sporting programme… It’s not for nothing that the city has been chosen to host the Grand Départ of the 2019 Tour de France.
BRUSSELS AND THE TOUR DE FRANCE
In 2019, it will be the 11th time that Brussels welcomes the Tour de France. After 1958, it will also be the second Grand Départ taking place in the capital of Belgium. And of course it’ll be the 50th anniversary of Eddy Merckx’s first victory on la Grande Boucle.
1947. The first time the Tour de France stops in Brussels. Stage victory going to Frenchman René Vietto.
1949. Double success for Belgian Roger Lambrecht, stage winner and yellow jersey.
1958. Atomium, Universal Exhibition and Grand Départ of the Tour. Brussels is the place to be.
1979. The time-trial competed in the streets of the Belgian capital is conquered by Bernard Hinault.
2010. Last visit of the Tour. Italian Alessandro Petacchi wins after a bunched sprint.
« MERCKXISM »
1969: A PHENOMENON DESTINED TO GRACE THE HISTORY OF TOUR DE FRANCE CYCLING MAKES HIS PRESENCE FELT
« Tout Eddy » (« All Eddy », can also be understood as « It’s all said »), was the splendid title used by Antoine Blondin in L’Equipe in 1969 the day after the Pyrenean stage from Luchon to Mourenx where Eddy Merckx had shown all the power he had as he triumphed with an advantage of over eight minutes on those one could no longer decently consider as rivals. The man from Brussels was on his way to a first title but the famous journalist had already noticed like all the spectators that a phenomenon was born on that day. For Jacques Goddet, it was even the beginning of a new era called « Merckxism ». And indeed, until the end of his career, the Cannibal impressed whatever the season and whatever the terrain… showing the best of his talent and temperament during the month of July. Eddy would win a total of five times on la Grande Boucle, adding panache to each of his victories. The 34 stages he claimed on his way to overall glory in 7 appearances on the Tour speak for themselves…
Brussels Airport is 12km from Brussels city centre, while Brussels South Charleroi Airport is 45km from the city centre
Thalys offers numerous daily departures from Paris
Trip length: 1.5 hours
310km from Paris to Brussels via the highway
Wednesday, July 3
Opening of the reception area and press centre at Brussels Expo
Thursday, July 4
Presentation of the 2019 Tour de France teams at the Grand Place
Saturday, July 6
First stage, Brussels - Charleroi - Brussels
Sunday, July 7
Second stage, Brussels Royal Palace - Brussels Atomium, team time-trial