The Cannibal would take home four yellow jerseys during his impressive career, which makes one four record holders. The other five time victors are Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain and Jacques Anquetil. Following his 1669 victory Merckx went on to win the race in the three consecutive editions and in 1974.
It’s the second ever Grand Départ in Brussels. The first time was during the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, an event for which the Atomium was constructed, a landmark building where the team trial on the second day of action is set to finish. Obviously, the Tour de France visited the Belgian capital more often. It will be the eleventh time that Brussels welcomes the Tour de France, the first time was in 1947 (René Vietto victory) and the last time in 2010 (Alessandro Petacchi show).
The 1st stage of the 2019 Tour de France begins on the central square of Brussels, called Grand Place or Grote Markt. The race heads for the Wall of Geraardsbergen and Bosberg – both Flemish Classics hallmarks – to turn back to Brussels via Charleroi, Villers-la-Ville and Sint-Pieters-Woluwe. It’s a special moment when La Grande Boucle moves through Sint-Pieters-Woluwe, as Eddy Merckx spent his youth here. In 1669, the Cannibal also took his first maillot jaune in the place where he spent his early years.
The 2nd stage is a gently undulating team trial of 28 kilometres. The teams roll down the start ramp near the Royal Palace, while the finish is near the Atomium. The boulevards in Brussels are wide and straight, so top speeds are to be expected.
Tour de France 2019: Route maps, videos, and more
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