The Tour de France will be spending a lot of time in Belgium in the coming years, according to the Belgian newspaper Le Soir. The French Grand Tour will visit Brussels, Spa and Visé in 2010, while the race will start in Liège in 2012.
The 2010 Tour is to start in the Netherlands, and the first stage will end at the Atomium in Brussels, as it did in 1992, when Laurent Jalabert won the stage. The next day will be a tribute to Belgian cycling legend Eddy Merckx, in honour of his 65th birthday and the fortieth anniversary of his second overall win in the Tour, in 1970. That stage will end in Spa. The next stage will start in Visé and head across the border to France.
The province of Liège will warm up for the Tour by hosting a stage of the Vuelta a España in 2009. After that, according to the newspaper, the province will pay the Amaury Sports Organisation €2.3 million for the honour of hosting the start of the Tour in 2012. That will include a stage from Liège to Seraing, with the organisers definitely wanting a stage and not a prologue.
The next stage would then start from another city, probably Huy, which last hosted a stage in 2006. From there the race would head towards Ypres in the Flanders region.
Liège plays annual host to one of cycling's top one-day races, Liège-Bastogne-Liège. This year the 94th edition was won by Spaniard Alejandro Valverde. (SW)