Brussels prepares this year’s Tour de France ‘Grand Départ’
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    Brussels prepares this year’s Tour de France ‘Grand Départ’

    Brussels is celebrating the 50 year anniversary of Belgian Eddy Merckx’s Tour de France win, and the fact that the city is the site of this year’s Grand Départ.

    The city is celebrating its rich cycling heritage with several events, and it released a schedule for the weekend of the Grand Départ.

    • Thursday 4 July: 22 teams of eight racers will leave from Place des Palais and cycle through Royal Galleries of Saint-Hubert before being presented at the Grand Place
    • Friday 5 July: The championship of the Eddy Merckx game will be played. The game named after the cycling champion is also celebrating its 50th anniversary.
    • Saturday 6 July: The first stage of the Tour de France begins. Competitors will bike 192 kilometers through Brussels and surrounding areas in Belgium.
    • Sunday 7 July: The first team time trial will take place. Teams will cycle 27 kilometers starting from the Palais Royale and ending at the Atomium.

    The city also released a list of exhibitions and bike-friendly activities to coincide with the Grand Départ.

    • Yellow Jersey Exhibition: This exhibition pays tribute to the thousands of cyclists who have competed in the Tour de France and the 54 Belgians, including Eddy Merckx, who have worn the Yellow Jersey.
    • The Tour Exhibition: Located at Edmond Machtens Stadium, this exhibition focus on the history and development of the world’s third-largest sporting event.
    • Ride the Time Trial Course: Once in Brussels is hosting an electric bike ride on the same route as the team time trial.

    Sam Nelson
    The Brussels Times