Liège to host Tour de France Grand Départ in 2012
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Friday, October 29, 2010

Liège to host Tour de France Grand Départ in 2012

by Shane Stokes at 8:09 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Corsica continues to push for 2013 start

The Belgian city of Liège looks set to host the start of the 2012 Tour de France, marking the second time that the world’s biggest cycling race will begin there.

According to RTBF.be, the news has today been confirmed to those involved by the Tour de France organisers ASO, although it has yet to be released to the general public. The city has been campaigning for the Tour since early 2007.

The city first hosted it in 2004, when Fabian Cancellara blitzed the prologue and thus announced his arrival at the top step of time trialing. The then-23 year old Swiss rider rode the third-fastest Tour prologue ever to beat Lance Armstrong by two seconds, and José Ivan Gutierrez by eight. He successfully defended the yellow jersey on the following day’s stage to Charleroi.

This time round, RTBF.be says that the prologue will run from the Avenue Rogier au Boulevard d'Avroy, with the village départ situated in the Park Avroy, as it was in 2004. That will take place on Saturday June 30th, with stage one being held the following day. That will run from Liège to Seraing, finishing at Val Saint-Lambert. The route will pass the former finish of Liège-Bastogne-Liège at the Boulevard de la Sauvenière.

Stage two will see the riders race between Visé and Tournai, marking the third day in Belgium.

In February 2007, the politician Christophe Lacroix told hln.be that securing another Grand Départ was a major goal for the city. “Such international competitions are very important for our image and ensure an economic force,” he said.

Meanwhile Corsica is continuing its push to host the start of the 2013 race. ASO’s Criterium International was held there this year, and regarded by many as a way for the Tour organisers to size up the island’s candidature.

Now, the mayor of the city of Porto-Vecchio wants to extend the agreement between ASO and the island until 2013, two years longer than initially proposed. That would bring it up to the intended year of the Grand Départ. The local paper Corse Matin reaffirms that the island wants to host the race.

The Tour de France has never held a stage on the island, making it the only French region to miss out. Hosting the start there for the 100th edition of the event would be a strong symbolic gesture, especially given the sometimes-tense relationship between mainland France and the island.

Next year’s Tour will begin in the Vendée region, with stage one running from the Passage du Gois to the Mont des Alouettes Les Herbiers.

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