The city of Brest in Brittany has been confirmed as the host of the Grand Depart of next year’s Tour de France, replacing Copenhagen with the Danish capital postponing the race’s visit until 2022 due to a congested sporting calendar due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Danish capital had been due to host several matches in the UEFA Euro 2020 football tournament in June this year, but those have now been put back by 12 months.
With the date of next year’s Tour de France brought forward by a week due to a clash with the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Copenhagen formally stood down as host last week.
Brest has hosted the Grand Depart on three previous occasions – in 1952, 1974 and 2008 – second only to Paris, and in total the Tour de France has visited the city 31 times to date.
The opening four stages of the race will be played out on Brittany’s Armor coast and the inland Argoat area, which organisers ASO promise will mean tough, selective racing from the start, meaning the overall contenders will need to be on their guard.
Usually, by the time the full route of the following year’s Tour de France is announced in Paris each autumn, details of the Grand Depart will already have been revealed.
The late switch from Denmark to Brittany, however, means that this year, the routes of the opening days will be unveiled alongside the rest of the itinerary at the Palais des Congres on 29 October.
To date, 170 Tour de France stages have been held in the region since the race’s first visit to the region in its fourth edition in 1906, and 33 towns and cities have hosted a stage.
The race has started in Brittany on six occasions to date – besides the three editions starting in Brest, Rennes (1964) in Plumelec (1985) and Saint-Brieuc (1995) have all hosted the Grand Depart.
The region is considered one of the heartlands of French cycling, and 153 Bretons have ridden the Tour de France, with four winning it – Lucien Petit-Breton in 1907 and 1908, Jean Robic in 1947, Louison Bobet who secured three yellow jerseys from 1953-55 and, most famously, Bernard Hinault, whose joint record five victories were achieved between 1978 and 85.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc 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.