D-100: THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS
March 28 th 2019 - 17:08
The Grand Départ of Le Tour will take place in a little more than three months’ time, on 6th July, and Brussels is already focused on a doubly historic Tour de France for the Belgians. The centenary of the Yellow Jersey also corresponds with the fiftieth anniversary of when its most prestigious wearer, Eddy Merckx, made his first appearance on the race. “The Cannibal” will once again be honoured in the Belgian capital. Throughout France, the stage hosting towns and cities on 2019 Tour de France will be decked out in Yellow, just like the Thalys high-speed train that made its first journey between Paris and Brussels in its luminous new livery. The D-100 festivities will continue tomorrow with the third edition of Le Tour’s dictation competition, which brought together 10,000 pupils last year to test their mettle against each other on texts about the Tour de France.
CITIES OF LIGHT EVERYWHERE! As we get closer the start of the 2019 edition of the Tour de France, the stage host towns and cities preparing to welcome the riders are celebrating by illuminating their monuments or giving pride of place to the Yellow Jersey in their own special way. Among the illuminations that started yesterday and which will regularly continue to light up these towns and cities until the arrival of Le Tour, the spirit of the Yellow Jersey has especially illuminated the rocks in Saint-Flour, the Garabit viaduct, the town hall in Colmar, the Saint-Julien basilica in Brioude, the town hall in Mâcon, the Opera house and Subé fountain in Reims, the ramparts in Binche, the castle in Pau, the obelisk in Châlon.
A THALYS TRAIN IN LE TOUR’S COLOURS. This morning, a Thalys train with a brand-new style made a noticeable entrance into the Bruxelles-Midi station to be welcomed by Bertrand Gosselin, Thalys CEO, Eddy Merckx and Christian Prudhomme. Although the riders will have to wait to start their journey on 6th July, this train, with one of the carriages entirely redecorated in the colours of the Tour de France and its Grand Départ, will be making many voyages on the high-speed network until 28th July, when the pack arrives at the Champs-Elysées in Paris. In total, it will cover tens of thousands of kilometres, with thousands of passengers on board!
EDDY MERCKX SQUARE IN WOLUWE-SAINT-PIERRE. The centenary celebrations for the creation of the Yellow Jersey also correspond with the fiftieth anniversary of Eddy Merckx’s first victory. These two milestones will come together in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, one of the boroughs of Brussels, where the young boy who grew up to taste triumph spent his youth. The new Eddy Merckx square has been officially inaugurated in the neighbourhood where his family ran a grocer’s shop, pending the installation of a copy of Belgian artist Stefaan de Croock’s work entitled “Tribute to Eddy Merckx”.
BICYCLE WEEKEND IN BRUSSELS. Brussels’ annual 24-hour cycling meeting for amateur cyclists held in the Bois de la Cambre woods will be devoted to the Tour de France this year. Approximately 6,000 participants are expected for this crazy race, where Eddy Merckx himself will be giving starter’s orders at 11.30. On Saturday 30th March and the following day, the Place De Brouckère will be taken over for and by Tour de France enthusiasts, with demonstrations and introductions to extreme cycling, exhibitions and bicycle rides through the city.
A € 2.5 COIN FOR THE GRAND DÉPART. As part of the festivities surrounding the Grand Départ, a special €2.5 euro coin will be issued by the Royal Mint of Belgium on the theme of the Tour de France. This sporty-looking collector’s item, which comes complete with a “coin-card”, will be legal tender in Belgium and can be bought from the web site www.herdenkingsmunten.be.