London had been set to host 2017 Grand Depart until former mayor, Leave campaigner and current foreign secretary pulled the plug

Has the 2017 Tour de France route been deliberately designed to troll the United Kingdom - and foreign secretary and Leave campaigner Boris Johnson, in particular - over Brexit? There seems to be plenty of evidence to support that theory.

London had been set to be awarded the Grand Depart of this year's race until the Tory politician, at the time the capital's mayor, pulled the plug on the city's bid at the eleventh hour in September 2015, citing funding issues.

> London wins Grand Depart of 2017 Tour de France - then withdraws bid at 11th hour

Instead, the Grand Depart was awarded to the German city of Dusseldorf, which hosted the opening day's time trial as well as the start of Stage 2 on Sunday.

The first three days of the race took in no fewer than four countries - besides Germany, the race visited Belgium and Luxembourg before entering France yesterday.

That's four of the six countries that signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957 European Economic Community (EEC), the predecessor of the European Union (EU).

The other two are Italy and the Netherlands - and the end of Stage 2 to Liege came within 10 kilometres or so of the Dutch city of Maastricht, birthplace of the EU through the treaty signed there in 1992.

Now, consider the village in Luxembourg that the race passed through just 7.5 kilometres into today's Stage 4 - Schengen, where in 1985 the agreement was signed that would pave the way for the creation of the Schengen Area that removebd border controls between participating Member States.

We don't think that can all be a coincidence, and there's another notable location that the peloton will pass through on Thursday's Stage 6 -  Colombey-les-Deux-Églises in France's Haute Marne department, the home village of soldier-turned-politician Charles de Gaulle.

As President of France in the 1960s, de Gaulle twice vetoed the United Kingdom's aspirations (supported by the Conservative, Labour and Liberal parties) to join the EEC, despite the other five then Member States giving their go-ahead.

While current Mayor of London Sadiq Khan says he is keen to bring the Tour de France back to the city, insisting that race owner ASO bears no ill-will for the withdrawal of the bid to stage this year's Grand Depart, we reckon the above all stacks up to some top trolling by the organisers.

> Tour de France coming back to London? Mayor keen and says ASO doesn't hold a grudge

But at least with Team Sky's Geraint Thomas first and Chris Froome second on general classification, it's the union flag that's currently flying at the top of the overall standings.

 

 

 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.