With this prestigious Grand Départ, those racing in and following the Tour will have the opportunity
to enjoy spending some time in the South-East – a region the convoy rarely passes through. In the last thirty years,
only Nice has hosted the Grand Départ. The city had the privilege of serving as a springboard for Bernard Hinault to achieve
his third victory in the challenge.
The first pedal strokes from Monaco will perhaps give contenders a chance to stand out – the uneven path that the
initial stage will follow favours the more accomplished cyclist. For this individual 15 kilometre time trial race, cyclists
will tackle in particular a section of the famous Monaco Grand Prix circuit. The next day, 5th July, the starting
signal for the second stage of the 2009 Tour will also be given from Monaco.
Located twenty kilometres east of Nice, facing the Mediterranean Sea, on the Côte d’Azur (French Riviera), the Principality
of Monaco, with a surface area of 2 square km, is the second smallest State in the world after the Vatican City. Divided into
ten districts, including Monte-Carlo, the central district, Monaco has a population of 32,000.
Independent since 1297,
this constitutional monarchy is governed by the sovereign Prince Albert II of Monaco since 2005.
Prins Albert II of Monaco said: "I am delighted to announce that the 2009 Tour de France will start from Monaco. The Principality
had the pleasure, a very long time ago, of seeing the Tour de France pass through the town, in 1964 for the last time. Forty
five years later, we will have the honour of hosting the start of this unique adventure."
The prins continued by saying: "A stimulus, fuelling performance and emotion, the Tour has always moved with the times,
even though this may mean being tainted by its evils. I would like to praise the intransigence of the organisers who assumed
the measures required to preserve the nobility of this sport.
Albert concluded:"There are still several months to go before this event takes place, but the announcement has already
roused the enthusiasm of the entire Monegasque population. I am convinced that the 2009 Tour de France will reinforce the
already close link between Monaco and France."
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said: "The announcement is scarcely official, but already a particular aura
of enchantment surrounds the start of the 2009 Tour. We know that the Tour de France Start from Monaco will be a landmark
event. The prestige of the Principality together with its location and geography confirm this."
Prudhomme continued by saying: "After the official presentation of the riders, the magnificent setting of the Rock will
be the site of the opening test – a fifteen kilometre time trial whose course will in part follow the twists and turns
of the most famous Formula 1 circuit in the world. This stage will be a sporting challenge with physical and technical virtues
called upon to counter the rising and falling landscape. Aesthetically speaking too this leg promises to be a splendid one,
with the Mediterranean as a backdrop in an environment of stunning natural beauty. Thank you to His Serene Highness Prince
Albert II for allowing us to bring to fruition an idea submitted to Philippe Amaury on the Champs Élysées, in Paris, at the
end of the 2005 Tour."
Prudhomme added:"The launch of the 2009 Tour from Monaco will be especially appreciated as starts from the south are rare.
Indeed, the competition has only set off four times from the south in thirty years and only once from the south-east: in the
neighbouring Alpes-Maritimes region, in 1981, when Bernard Hinault dominated the race from the outset on the prologue in Nice,
heralding a magnificent come-back, one year after his knee failed him on the foray into the Pyrenees."
Qatar is also an official candidate to host a grand depart: "Along with a truly memorable visit to London and a route
through Brittany next summer imprinted with fervent affection for the Tour, the Start in Monaco reflects the powerful influence
of a monument of sport: its universal appeal. And with applications from France and neighbouring countries, the official candidature
of the state of Qatar and the contacts established this autumn, at their request, by Scotland and Japan, confirm the Tour’s