Around noon, the 106th edition of the Tour de France (6 July 2019 – 28 July 2019) was unveiled in Paris. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the first Tour victory of Eddy Merckx, the Grand Départ will be held in Brussels.
The first stage, with start and finish in Brussels, is a sprint stage. The day after, a team time trial of 27 kilometres is scheduled in the Belgian capital. The third stage starts in Binche and takes the riders to Epernay, France. Then the Tour caravan heads further into the Vosges, followed by the Massif Central, the Pyrenees and the Alps.
Tiesj Benoot: “The Grand Départ in Brussels is of course special and I am very much looking forward to it. Two years ago, when the Tour started in Düsseldorf, we also rode in Belgium and that was already impressive. This Tour start will definitely get a lot of people out on the streets and as a Belgian rider in a Belgian team that’s all the more exciting.”
“It was the first time that I came to the Tour presentation. It was impressive with 3,700 people here at Palais des Congrès. The celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the yellow jersey in the presence of fivefold Tour winners Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain gave this presentation an extra nice touch.”
“I really like the hilly stages ahead of the first rest day. That first week is more balanced than last year. That’s good for the riders, but also for the spectators. There are sprints, hilly stages, a mountain stage and a team time trial that first week. There are definitely opportunities for a rider like me, in the stages to Epernay and Colmar for example. Afterwards, the Tour builds up towards the decisive stages in the Alps. In the tough stages it will depend on the tactics of the GC teams if escapees have a chance of winning.”
Marc Sergeant, sports manager Lotto Soudal: “The Tour direction obviously wants that the overall winner is determined as late as possible. They want to limit the time gaps between the GC riders as long as possible. There are not much time trial kilometres either. For us that’s not so important. We are going to the Tour with a sprinter.”
“There will probably only be two sprints in the first week. On those occasions we want to aim for victory with Caleb Ewan. The sprint opportunities are more spread over the entire Tour. Pretty early there will already be opportunities for riders like Tiesj Benoot, Thomas De Gendt and Tim Wellens if he would ride the Tour again. In about half of the latest editions, the Tour didn’t start with a time trial. Also this year it starts with a normal stage. Of course we have the ambition to win it. It would be fantastic to do that in Brussels. But we won’t be the only team with that ambition.”