Tim Maloney, European Editor
It's official: the eastern French city of Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace region, will host the Grand Départ of the 2006 Tour de France. Jean-Marie Leblanc, Tour director and Christian Prudhomme, his heir apparent, announced an agreement with Ms. Fabienne Keller, mayor of Strasbourg. Home of the European Parliament, Strasbourg, which means "the town of roads" in German, will welcome the Tour de France prologue on July 1, 2006. Strasbourg has already hosted the Tour de France 22 times, but the only time the Alsatian capital has hosted the Tour start was in 1953, the year of the first win of legendary French racer Louison Bobet. The '06 Tour's prologue will be a 7.5km flat and rolling course entirely in the city.
The next day, Sunday July 2 will see the start of Le Tour '06's Stage 1 in Strasbourg; a 180km flat loop through Saverne, Molsheim, Obernai and then a quick trip over the border into Germany in the Eurodistrict of Offenburg before returning to the finish in the center of Strasbourg. On Monday, July 3, The Grand Départ concludes when Stage 2 of the 2006 Tour heads out of Strasbourg to points still unknown.
The official 2006 Tour De France route will be unveiled in Paris on October 28, 2005.