• Country

2019 Tour de France Departure to Pay Tribute to Eddy Merckx?

By Monica Buck

As Het Nieuwsblad is reporting, the 2019 Tour de France should start in Brussels. Three years after the first suggestions to honour the 50th anniversary of the Cannibal’s first yellow jersey this way, everything seems to be on the right course. Eddy Merckx won six Tour stages back in 1969 and won the GC by a whopping margin of 17:54 over Roger Pingeon. Truly a great feat that is worth remembering.

The plan to do that came from Alain Courtois, the former Secretary-General of the Belgian Football Association who, alongside with Merckx himself, had a meeting with Christian Prudhomme in 2014. And already back then, the Tour de France director was reportedly “pleasantly surprised” with the offer. Now everything looks a done deal according to the Belgian newspaper, and Brussels is to host the Grand Depart for the first time since 1958.

Eddy acquired the nickname “The Cannibal” after a teammate told his daughter of how Merckx would not let anyone else win, and the daughter referred to him as a cannibal.

That would mean that Copenhagen, another prime candidate for the 2019 Grand Depart, would be left empty-handed and would have to try again in 2021. Nowadays, the Tour de France starts abroad every other year with this year’s edition starting with a time trial in Dusseldorf. This year, Belgian fans will have their chance to see the pros during the third stage, which starts at Verviers.