Cycling news - Route revealed for 106th Tour de France as Chris Froome bids for record-equalling win
The 100th anniversary of the Tour de France's iconic yellow jersey will include five mountain finishes with three of the five summits finishing above 2000m.
The 106th edition of the world's biggest cycling race - live on Eurosport next July - will start in Brussels in an event that will include only 54km of time trials.
Belgium has been chosen as the Grand Depart to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Belgian great Eddy Merckx's five victories after organisers announced the route for the three-week race on Thursday.
The winner of the Tour de France will be decided on the final 33.4km climb at Val Thorens on stage 20.
The total race course is 3460km with the race beginning on Saturday July 6 and finishing on Sunday July 28.
Chris Froome will bid to equal Merckx's five Tour de France titles.
The 2019 edition will mark the 50th anniversary of Merckx's first win and the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the fabled yellow jersey first worn by Eugene Christophe in 1919.
Froome was denied a fifth title last year by Sky team mate and fellow Briton Geraint Thomas and both men were in attendance along with the 73-year-old Merckx for the route presentation at Paris' Palais des Congres.
It will be the fifth Grand Depart in Belgium and the second in Brussels and Tour de France general director Christian Prudhomme said it was a fitting way to mark the feats of Merckx.
"When we heard of Brussels' application for the Tour de France, the idea of Grand Depart soon sprung to mind," he said.
"Brussels, the capital of Belgium, the European capital and Eddy Merxck's city. We had to start from city where this man was born. He was the yellow jersey's greatest symbol... It was obvious."
The peloton will tackle cobbles on the Mur de Grammont in the opening loop stage on Saturday July 6, a 192km ride starting and ending in Belgium's capital after visiting Charleroi.
A 27km team time trial takes place in the city the next day.
The race then heads into France from Binche to Epernay in a 214km stage three. The route hugs the border with Germany, bringing the Tour to the east of the country after the early stages were along the west coast of France last year.
Riders then head south and into the Pyrenees where a 27km individual time trial will take place in Pau on July 19, the exact day of the 100-year anniversary of the yellow jersey.
The final rest day will be in Nimes three days later before three Alpine stages which includes the Col d'Iseran, the highest paved road in Europe at 2,770m.
The winner will likely be decided by the end of stage 20 on the final 33.4km climb up to Val Thorens, before the 106th Tour culminates in its usual grand finale on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on July 28, setting off from Rambouillet.
The total race distance is set to be 3,460km with seven mountain stages and five altitude finishes.
Merckx holds the record for most Tour wins with Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain with the latter two also present in Paris on Thursday.