The news was revealed by race director Christian Prudhomme who said that Liège will host the first stage of the sportingin 2012 following the signing of an agreement by city authorities and race representatives today (Friday). The race is set to begin on Saturday, June 30 with a time trial around the city centre on the same course that opened the Tour eight years ago in 2004. That year the Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara won the trial, two seconds ahead of multiple Tour winner Lance Armstrong.
On July 1 the first road stage the cyclists will set off from Liège and race for 180 kilometres to the town of Seraing in the south of the country. This will be largely run on the flat and the course should suit sprinters like Britain’s Mark Cavendish who did well in the Belgian stages of this year’s tour and ended up in fourth place overall.
The peleton will stay in Belgium for a third day on July 2, with a start in Vise, nestled by the banks of the river Meuse. The direction of the race after that is unknown and will only be revealed next year in Paris. Although it is expected to continue south and then entering France.
Belgium has hosted the Tour de France’s start there times so far: Brussels (1958), Charleroi (1975) and Liège (2004).
In 2004 there were 200,000 spectators for the first time trial in Liège, similar crowds are expected in 2012.
The 2012 race will be the 99th edition of the Tour and it will be only 19th time it has started outside of France.
Tour Starts Outside of France
1954: Amsterdam (Netherlands)
1958: Brussels (Belgium)
1965: Cologne (Germany)
1973: Scheveningen (Netherlands)
1975: Charleroi (Belgium)
1978: Leiden (Netherlands)
1980: Frankfurt (Germany)
1982: Basel (Switzerland)
1987: Berlin (Germany)
1992: San Sebastian (Spain)
1996: Hertogenbosch (Netherlands)
2004: Liege (Belgium)
2010: Rotterdam (Netherlands)
2012: Liege (Belgium)
Source: Cycling Weekly