- Daily & Weekly newsletters
- Buy & download The Bulletin
- Comment on our articles
75,000 join Tour de France launch ceremony on Grand-Place
Eddy Merckx received a loud ovation as more than 75,000 people gathered in Brussels' Grand Place to celebrate the launch of the Tour de France Grand Départ.
The Belgian cycling star, who won his first Tour de France 50 years ago, appeared in front of the crowd to chants of "Eddy, Eddy".
The square and surrounding streets were full as fans turned out to watch the official presentation of the teams on a large stage in front of City Hall.
The riders cycled from the Royal Palace and crossed the Saint-Hubert Royal Galeries before arriving one by one in the Grand Place, to be greeted by Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme.
The festivities continued in the Fan Park, which has been set up on the newly renovated Place de Brouckere.
Brussels hosts two days of race action - a 192km opening stage from Brussels to Charleroi and back on Saturday, followed by a time trial around the city on Sunday.
Cars parked along the route of the race will be towed, roads will be closed and various bus and tram routes diverted or cut short.
Public transport is free within Brussels on both days and a reinforced metro service will be running.
Photo: David Stockman/Belga