The 2009 Tour de France - Grand depart from Monaco

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15.12.2007 / On Friday afternoon the organisers of the Tour de France unveiled the programme for the first few days of the 2009 race, which will kick off on 4 July. For the first time in its history, the Grande Boucle will set out from Monaco.  The Principality has already been the finishing point for race stages on five occasions, including the famous finish between Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor when the Tour last visited Monaco, in 1964.

Copyright ASO
Picture: ASO

The Tour and Monaco
In 1964, the cinder track of the original Louis II stadium was the backdrop to one of the epic Anquetil versus Poulidor battles. An episode narrated by Pierre Chany in 'La fabuleuse histoire du Tour de France' (La Martinière publications):

"With an eye on the finish, Anquetil moved into first position, aware of the difficulty of overtaking the leader on the “rings” of a flat track. Nevertheless, Poulidor managed to thrust his way forward on the inside. He sprinted for the finish line and raised his hands in victory. Stunned, he saw Anquetil race past him without stopping, the rush of other riders in his wake! The Limousin rider had misread his road sheet. The arrival of the riders at the Louis II stadium marked the start of the finishing circuit: another lap remained. He’d let himself be duped by memories of the Tour d’Espagne where a fraction of a lap at the finish makes all the difference. At the second crossing of the finish line, Anquetil, still in first position, obtained the one minute bonus!"

… And at the finish in Paris, following further spectacular feats, including the legendary climb of the Puy de Dôme, Jacques Anquetil gained his fifth Tour de France victory… a mere 55 seconds ahead of Raymond Poulidor.

Winners on previous occasions when the Tour has come to Monaco

Stage 12. Saint-Raphaël > Monaco - Maurice Archambaud (France)
Stage 13. Monaco > Monaco - Pierre Gallien (France)

Stage 12. Sestrières > Monaco - Jan Nolten (Netherlands)

Stage 16. Marseilles > Monaco - Wim Van Est (Netherlands)

Stage 9. Briançon > Monaco - Raphaël Géminiani (France)

Stage 9. Briançon > Monaco - Jacques Anquetil (France)

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 extraordinary magic."

Cycling in Monaco

Founded in 1985, the Cycling Federation of Monaco is affiliated to the International Cycling Union. The Principality’s club, the Cycling Union of Monaco, which recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, has 135 members and six disciplines: road, mountain bike, BMX, track, cyclo-cross and trial. It organises notably the Monaco Criterium in March and the Jean-Luc Schopf Trophy in June.

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