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Tour de France: 10 memorable foreign starts

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Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) starts his 2007 Tour de France in London

Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) starts his 2007 Tour de France in London
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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The 1987 Tour started in West Berlin

The 1987 Tour started in West Berlin
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Don't call it a comeback: Lance Armstrong 2.0 came back in 2009

Don't call it a comeback: Lance Armstrong 2.0 came back in 2009
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo Test Team) on the start ramp in Monaco

Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo Test Team) on the start ramp in Monaco
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador gets his 2009 Tour underway in Monaco

Alberto Contador gets his 2009 Tour underway in Monaco
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Christian Vande Velde swamped US Postal for Manolo Saiz's Spanish team in 2004

Christian Vande Velde swamped US Postal for Manolo Saiz's Spanish team in 2004
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Mario Cipollini at the start of the 2004 Tour de France in Liege

Mario Cipollini at the start of the 2004 Tour de France in Liege
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Tyler Hamilton returned to the Tour in 2004 after an incredible 2003. However his form was off and he could never rise to his 2003 level again

Tyler Hamilton returned to the Tour in 2004 after an incredible 2003. However his form was off and he could never rise to his 2003 level again
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Jan Ullrich at the start of the 2004 Tour de France

Jan Ullrich at the start of the 2004 Tour de France
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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A fresh faced Mark Cavendish made his Tour debut in 2007

A fresh faced Mark Cavendish made his Tour debut in 2007
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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David Millar came back to the Tour in 2007

David Millar came back to the Tour in 2007
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) rides by Buckingham Palace

Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) rides by Buckingham Palace
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Denis Menchov, then at Rabobank, powers along the opening TT in London in 2007

Denis Menchov, then at Rabobank, powers along the opening TT in London in 2007
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Cadel Evans came into the 2009 Tour as a firm favourite

Cadel Evans came into the 2009 Tour as a firm favourite
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) in his Spanish national champions kit in 2009

Alberto Contador (Astana) in his Spanish national champions kit in 2009
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Oscar Friere takes a corner along the Monaco course

Oscar Friere takes a corner along the Monaco course
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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At the start of the 1954 Tour de France

At the start of the 1954 Tour de France
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Chris Boardman's last prologue win came in Dublin in 1998

Chris Boardman's last prologue win came in Dublin in 1998
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Sean Kelly at the start of the 1989 Tour de France

Sean Kelly at the start of the 1989 Tour de France
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Fabian Cancellara was unbeatable at the start of the 2007 Tour de France

Fabian Cancellara was unbeatable at the start of the 2007 Tour de France
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Fabian Cancellara in Liege in 2004

Fabian Cancellara in Liege in 2004
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Bradley Wiggins (Garmin) set his Tour in motion with a strong ride in the Monaco time trial

Bradley Wiggins (Garmin) set his Tour in motion with a strong ride in the Monaco time trial
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Andy Schleck lost valuable time at the start of the Tour in 2009

Andy Schleck lost valuable time at the start of the Tour in 2009
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) was at his best in 2009

Alberto Contador (Astana) was at his best in 2009
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Stijn Devolder (Quickstep) in Monaco 2009

Stijn Devolder (Quickstep) in Monaco 2009
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Captain America: Dave Zabriskie (Garmin Slipstream)

Captain America: Dave Zabriskie (Garmin Slipstream)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Simply the best: Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) starts the 2009 Tour de France

Simply the best: Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) starts the 2009 Tour de France
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) was the fastest up the climb at the start of the Tour

Alberto Contador (Astana) was the fastest up the climb at the start of the Tour
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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The UCI contingent pose by a red top London bus

The UCI contingent pose by a red top London bus
(Image credit: Sirotti)

Wednesday's news that the Tour de France could be making its way to UK shores in 2017 had the Cyclingnews office reminiscing about previous Tour starts on foreign soil. European correspondent Peter Cossins counts down ten of the best.

1954, Amsterdam: The Tour’s first Grand Départ outside France started without Fausto Coppi, who was embroiled in the furor created by his affair with Guilia Occhini. Indeed, there wasn’t a single Italian in the field, but that didn’t stop tens of thousands turning out all along the route into Braasschaat, where Wout Wagtmans was a hugely popular home winner.

1958, Brussels: With 22 stage wins, André Darrigade is the next in Mark Cavendish’s sights as the Briton seeks to add to his total of 20. Just as Cav has made a habit of winning the final stage, Darrigade was just as dominating on the Tour’s opening stage. His victory in Ghent in 1958 was his third opening day win in a row. He’d subsequently take two more.

1978, Leiden: The Tour’s third Dutch start is reduced almost to a non-event by heavy rain. Concerned about the riders’ safety on a prologue course featuring cobbled sections, the organisers run the prologue but decide that it won’t count towards the overall classification. Dutch riders provide some spectacle for the crowds by filling the first four places, with Jan Raas topping them.

1987, West Berlin: This remains the start furthest from French territory and was held to commemorate the city’s 750th anniversary. Jelle Nijdam’s decision to use two disc wheels paid off as he beat Lech Piasecki by three seconds, with eventual winner Stephen Roche third in front of immense crowds who could not have known that the Wall that separated them from the East would be gone little more than two years later.

1989, Luxembourg: Prior to Liège, the capital of the Grand Duchy was the only foreign city to host two Tour starts. Lance Armstrong won there in 2002, but the first was more memorable for defending champion Pedro Delgado missing his start time having decided to extend his warm-up. The Spaniard eventually started two minutes and 40 seconds after he should have done. Without that deficit Delgado would have started the final time trial into Paris leading the race ahead of Laurent Fignon and eventual winner Greg LeMond.

1992, San Sebastián: On the night before the prologue two bombs exploded in an underground car park in the Basque town of Fuenterrabia, injuring one person and destroying seven cars, including three belonging to British broadcaster Channel 4. The Tour went ahead as planned, however, with Miguel Indurain winning the prologue.

1998, Dublin: Best remembered by British fans for Chris Boardman’s third prologue success, but by most others for the Festina Affair, which blew up just days before the start and escalated into the sport’s biggest doping crisis over the course of the first week, almost totally overshadowing the Tour’s only visit to Ireland.

2004, Liege: All eyes were on Lance Armstrong, but the soon-to-be six-time Tour winner was upstaged by debutant Fabian Cancellara, who beat the Texan by two seconds on a course almost exactly the same as this year’s. Cancellara has subsequently won both of the Tour prologues held abroad, in London and Rotterdam.

2007, London: Weeks of poor weather finally gave way to warm conditions as the Tour visited Britain’s capital for the first time. The crowds that packed the course that passed many of London’s most famous sights were estimated to be between one and two million strong. Most were hoping local boy Bradley Wiggins would top the podium, but Fabian Cancellara produced a staggering performance, beating Andreas Klöden by 13 seconds and George Hincapie by 23 over 7.9km. Wiggins was fourth.

2009, Monaco: For ritz and glamour, Monaco’s Grand Départ tops the pile. Covering much of the motor-racing circuit made famous by the principality’s Grand Prix, this 15.5km time trial route climbed up the Corniche high above Monaco before dropping back down to pass the harbour packed with the yachts of the super-rich. Cancellara won it, beating Alberto Contador by 18 seconds. Just as notable was Contador’s 22-second advantage over Astana co-leader Lance Armstrong.