Tour de France 2019: Brussels will host Grand Depart to honour Eddy Merckx

Eddy Merckx wins the 1974 Tour de France title

Eddy Merckx won five Tour de France titles between 1969 and 1974

The 2019 Tour de France Grand Depart will take place in Brussels to mark the 50th anniversary of five-time champion Eddy Merckx’s first title.

Belgian rider Merckx, 71, won six stages on his way to the 1969 title and holds the record for the most Tour de France stages wins, with 34.

Brussels has hosted the Grand Depart once before, in 1958, while 2019 will be the fifth Tour start in Belgium.

“I’m very emotional, I hope I’ll still be alive,” said Merckx.

Nicknamed ‘The Cannibal’, Merckx also won three world road race championships, four Giro d’Italia titles, the 1973 Vuelta a Espana and claimed 19 victories across cycling’s five prestigious one-day ‘Monument’ races.

This year’s Tour begins in German city Dusseldorf on 1 July, after London turned down the chance to host, while the 2018 edition starts in Vendee in Western France.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/40092052

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