Paris - The 2019 Tour de France 2019 will start in Brussels in
celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first of Eddy Merckx's five
victories, organisers said on Tuesday.
"It's the least we could do," said Tour director
"Eddy Merckx is an exceptional champion and a person of
"I'm very emotional, I hope I'll still be alive!"
said the 71-year-old Merckx, a three-time world champion who holds the record
for the most stage wins on the race, and who also won the Giro d'Italia five
times and the Vuelta a Espana once.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo added the 2019 Tour "will link
Brussels to Paris, two cities that have recently suffered greatly from
"We wanted to find an event that ties our two
Brussels has hosted the Grand Depart once before, in 1958.
It will be the 23rd time a country outside France has been chosen for the start
of cycling's most famous stage race and the fifth time from Belgium.