The route features 800 vertical metres, which obviously should not worry fast men as these are spread over almost 200 kilometres. But something sprinters should definitely be aware of is the 4% gradient of the last kilometre.
Following the start on the central square in Brussels – Grote Markt or Grand Place in bilingual Belgium – the Tour de France moves through the boroughs Molenbeek and Anderlecht and continues to the Wall of Geraardsbergen. The cobbled climb – 1.1 kilometres at 9.2% – is shortly followed by the Bosberg, but the combo will not have a major impact on the race.
Over the Bosberg – with still 140 kilometres remaining – the route continues to Edingen and Charleroi, where the 1975 Tour de France celebrated its Grand Départ with a prologue (Fransesco Moser win). Now the race turns north to return to Brussels via Villers-la-Ville, Waterloo, Overijse, Tervuren and Sint-Pieters-Woluwe. The passage through Sint-Pieters-Woluwe is to honour Eddy Merckx, as the five time Tour de France winner grew up in this village. He also took his first ever yellow jersey here – in 1969.
It is approximately 10 kilometres from Sint-Pieters-Woluwe to the finish near the Castle of Laeken, the official residence of the King of the Belgians. The last kilometre is characterized by an average gradient of 4%.
The second Grand Départ ever in the Belgian capital is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Eddy Merckx’s first victory on La Grande Boucle. Following his 1969 victory, the Cannibal would take home four more yellow jerseys during his impressive career, which makes him one of four record holders. The other five time victors are Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain and Jacques Anquetil. Merckx won the race in four consecutive editions – 1669, 1970, 1971, 1972 -, and in 1974.
The first Grand Départ in Brussels was held on behalf of during the 1958 Brussels Worlds Fair, an event for which the Atomium was constructed, a landmark building where stage 2‘s team trial is set to finish. Obviously, the Tour de France visited the Belgian capital more often. It will be the eleventh inclusion of Brussels. The first time was in 1947 (René Vietto victory) and the last time in 2010 (Alessandro Petacchi show).
Time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds are awarded to the first three riders on the line of the 1st stage of the 2019 Tour de France.
Tour de France 2019 stage 1: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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