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sportreff cycling

The 2020 edition of the Tour de France will start in Nice, in the south of France, it was announced on Monday.

It will be the second time the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes department will have hosted the Grand Départ, having previously seen the race off in 1981.

The Nice start will make for a fourth Grand Départ on French soil in the last decade, and the third in the space of five years. After Mont-Saint-Michel in 2016 and Dusseldoorf last year, the alternating pattern continues with the Vendée region of France hosting this year, followed by Brussels, Belgium in 2019 ahead of Nice 2020.

“It is a source of immense pride to welcome the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2020 to Nice for a second time following 1981. Le Tour is the third biggest international sporting event and consequently ensures considerable economic benefits for our entire area,” said Christian Estrosi, Mayor of Nice.

No details of the 2020 Grand Départ have been unveiled yet beyond the location. The famous Promenade des Anglais on the Mediterranean waterfront would be expected to feature, while there’s hilly terrain to be found just inland.

In 1981 the Tour kicked off with a prologue, which Bernard Hinault won to trade his world champion’s jersey for the maillot jaune. The following day saw a split-stage, with Freddy Maertens sprinting to victory in the short morning road stage and Ti-Raleigh-Gitane winning a team time trial to Antibes and back.

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2020 will be the 36th time that the Tour de France will have visited Nice. The first was in 1906, in the fourth edition, where René Pottier won a stage from Grenoble, and the latest was in 2013, following the Corsica Grand Départ, where Orica-GreenEdge won a team time trial on the Promenade des Anglais.

“Seven years after welcoming the 100th edition in 2013 which attracted almost 100,000 spectators, this is a further step which strengthens my desire to make Nice an essential city for hosting major sporting events,” added Estrosi.

“As a result, we will have our heart set on offering optimal conditions to the organisers and teams. Nice boasts an exceptional playground for cyclists, from the Promenade des Anglais up to the high passes of the Mercantour national park. This rich relief will make it possible to launch the 107th edition of the Tour de France in the finest way possible.”

The announcement was made in Nice on Monday, the day after the conclusion of the Paris-Nice stage race, also run by Tour de France organisers, ASO.

Marc Soler dramatically grabbed the title on a tight and tense final-day, which has become a theme, and Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme, who has made no secret of his desire for more open racing at the Tour in recent years, hopes Nice will set the right tone in 2020.

“The most recent editions of Paris-Nice have shown us that the variety of landscapes and relief in this region are conducive to suspense, attacking and a thrilling spectacle,” he said. “This is exactly what we want in order to give the Tour de France 2020 a dynamic tone.”

The 2020 Tour de France will begin on Saturday June 27, and will finish in Paris on July 19.