As Brussels prepares to host the Grand Départ of the Tour de France, discover five things you probably didn’t know about the Tour.
The Tour de France On Tour
Since the middle of the fifties, the Tour de France has visited several of its neighbours. Andorra, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and even the United Kingdom has hosted part of the worlds most famous bicycle race.
Cheating to Victory
In recent years doping has taken away some of the sportsmanship from this classic race, but cheating is nothing new in the Tour. Way back in 1904, Maurice Grain, who was the first ever Tour de France winner, won again. However, his victory lap didn’t last long when officials discovered that he’d caught a train to the last stage in the Alps.
Why the Yellow Jersey?
Each stage has an opportunity to wear one of the race leaders Jersey’s. The most desirable, and most well-known is the Yellow Jersey or Maillot Jaune. Awarded each day of the 23-day race, the Yellow Jersey wearer is the cyclist with the quickest overall time from the start of the first day of the race. Each cyclist has their daily time recorded and then the Yellow Jersey award is calculated based on that. As well as the Yellow Jersey, there’s also a green jersey (awarded to the best time trialist and sprinter), white jersey (awarded to the best young rider) and even a polka dot jersey which is awarded to the best climber, known as the King of the Mountains.
Who Is the Cannibal?
Édouard Louis Joseph Merckx, or Eddy Merckx, is one of Belgium’s greatest athletes and the world’s greatest road and track bicycle racer. As a winner of an unbeaten record-breaking eleven Grand Tours that includes five Tours of France, five of Italy and victory in a Tour of Spain, as well as three World Championships and a total of more than 500 other notable victories, there is no one like Eddy Merckx in the world of cycling. His nickname was given by a teammate’s daughter to emphasise how he would devour the opposition. Legend has it, that when other riders knew that Eddy Merckx would be racing second place became the best they could hope for.
The Brussels Connection
Aside from its most famous cycling son, Eddy Merckx, Brussels and Belgium has a surprisingly long association with a race that is synonymous with France. In fact, the Brussels connection with the Tour de France extends back to 1947 when Brussels welcomed the Tour for the first time. In 1958 the city hosted the Grand Départ for the first time and 2010 was the eleventh time the Tour made an appearance on Brussels streets. 2019 is a particularly special year for the Tour. As the 106th Tour de France, it not only marks 50 years since Eddy’s first victory but the 100-year anniversary of the Yellow Jersey.
Stay Near the Grand Départ
The 07th July is the date of the Grand Départ in Brussels, and to catch the best of the action, staying near the event is a must. Much more than a single event, the celebrations surrounding the Grand Depart are enjoyed from the 04th to the 07th July and are centred around Place De Brouckère. Guests staying at The Hotel Brussels can walk to the festivities in a little under 30 minutes, or take the metro, tram or bus to get there in 20 minutes. Don’t miss any of the displays, exhibitions, talks and of course, the parade of all the riders during your stay at The Hotel Brussels.
Here are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)