Crowds greet the riders of the 2019 Tour de France - Gallery

The 2019 Tour de France welcomed its participants Thursday at the official opening team presentation held on the Grand-Place in Brussels, Belgium. Organisers welcomed on stage Eddy Merckx, as it has been 50 years since he won the first of his five Tour de France titles, and chose Brussels for the Grand Depart in his honour.

They then invited on stage each team one-by-one to introduce the riders such as defending champion Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) and world champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) to the crowds.

Thomas waved to the thousands of upon his introduction while standing next to co-leader of Team Ineos, Egan Bernal. The team announced them as co-leaders of the Tour de France after Chris Froome sustained serious injuries in a crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Joining the overall contenders on stage were Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First), Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates), Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ).

Also on stage were the contenders for the opening sprint stage; Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) and Michael Matthews (Sunweb).

The Tour de France begins on Saturday with stage 1's 194.5km race in Brussels, which could be a day for a sprinter to take the first yellow jersey. 

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