The 2015 Tour de France sets off from the Netherlands
For the 21st time in its history, the Tour de France will be starting outside the country, and this year it is the turn of the Netherlands, and the city of Utrecht, to declare the 102nd Tour de France open on July 4.
Stage 1 (Saturday 4 July): Utrecht/Utrecht (13.8km)
Stage 2 (Sunday 5 July): Utrecht > Zeeland (166km)
Stage 3 (Monday 6 July): Antwerp > Huy (159.5km)
Stage 4 (Tuesday 7 July): Sereing > Cambrai (223.5km)
Start of the 2015 Tour: Utrecht, Netherlands
Last year it was the English city of Leeds that provided a warm welcome for the official start of the Tour de France. This year, it is the turn of the small city of Utrecht to receive this honour.
The start, on Saturday 4 July 2015, is eagerly anticipated by Utrecht which, in 2010, was pipped to the post by Rotterdam.
In keeping with every city hosting the official start of the Tour de France, Utrecht has a whole week of festivities planned for its residents and visitors alike to celebrate the 2015 event.
And, as has been the case ever since 1930, the Tour caravan (180 vehicles) will be well and truly present! As well as clearing a path for cyclists throughout the three-week adventure, it will be handing out a whole host of small gifts to crowds lining the route.
21st start outside of France
Race starts outside of France have been a theme since 1954, when the tour set out from the Dutch city of Amsterdam.
Since then, the race has started in different European countries (Germany, Spain, Luxembourg, Ireland, UK…) on no fewer than 20 occasions, including five times in the Netherlands.
From the Netherlands to France via Belgium
The official start from Utrecht will take place at midday on Saturday 4 July, with an individual time trial through the centre of the city. At the same time on Sunday 5 July, riders will once again set out from the centre of Utrecht, this time heading towards Zeeland.
The peloton will then spend two days crossing Belgium before arriving in Cambrai in Northern France at the end of Stage 4.
2016: Mont-Saint-Michel to host the start of the Tour
Next year, it will be back to France for the official start of the 103rd Tour de France.
And not just anywhere! In 2016, the race will begin at Mont-Saint-Michel, France’s third most visited tourist site.