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Eddy Merckx at the start
"Grand Depart" exactly 50 years after "the Cannibal's" first Tour win
Brussels is seeking the start of the 2019 Tour de France, to honour the 1969 Tour victory by Eddy Merckx, a native of the Belgian capital. An organizing committee has already broached the idea to the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which is apparently receptive to the plan.
Merckx won his first Tour in 1969, at the age of 24, and went on to win the race four more times. 2019 would mark the 50th anniversary of his first win.
"It would be a fantastic homage to Eddy Merckx," said Alain Courtois, the former Secretary-General of the Belgian Football Association — who is leading the project — to Nieuwsblad.be.
Courtois and Merckx met last week in Paris with the ASO. Tour boss Christian Prudhomme "responded pleasantly surprised" and "said immediately that the Tour absolutely would not let such a historical figure of Eddy Merckx go unnoticed. We're not going to skip Brussels."
No decisions on the 2019 Tour will be made until 2017, Courtois noted. "If need be, we will accept a stage finish and a start the next day, but our preference is for the Grand Depart."