France - cycling

Tour de France 2015 will depart from the Netherlands

From L-R, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France winners Joop Zoetemelk, Bernard Hinault, Utrech's mayor Aleid Wolfsen and Tour de France winner Jan Janssen pose during the presentation in Paris for the Tour de France 2015 departure fr
From L-R, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France winners Joop Zoetemelk, Bernard Hinault, Utrech's mayor Aleid Wolfsen and Tour de France winner Jan Janssen pose during the presentation in Paris for the Tour de France 2015 departure fr Reuters/Jacky Naegelen

The opening stage of the Tour de France 2015 will be an individual time-trial. 

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For the sixth time the race departure will take place outside France, and the second time for the Netherlands, which first did so in 1954 when Amsterdam was afforded the honour.

"After two editions which will have begun with a race to the line - this year in Corsica and next year in Yorkshire in England - we are returning to the traditional time-trial," said Tour director Christian Prudhomme.

The launch of the first stage was attended by Jan Janssen, the first ever Dutch rider to win the Tour, in 1968, and Joop Zoetemelk, the only other rider from the Netherlands to finish top of the pile at the end of the gruelling three-week race, in 1980.

Aleid Wolfson, the mayor of Utrecht, said: "Cycling is a passion in the Netherlands and especially in Utrecht where there are more bicycles than people."

86 per cent of the Dutch people this year watched at least one stage of the Tour de France, 1 per cent more than the French.

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