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Is the Tour de France route trolling the UK - and Boris Johnson - over Brexit? Here's the evidence ...

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, founding the 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 removed 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.




Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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