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Royal send off as 2019 Tour de France starts


The Tour de France was given a festive send off from sweltering Brussels on Saturday as the 176 contenders for the 106th edition of cycling’s greatest race embarked on a 194.5km jaunt around Belgium.

King Philippe of Belgium, national cycling hero Eddy Merckx and Prince Albert of Monaco were on hand to give the official start signal after setting off from the majestic Grand Place.

The peloton then swept by the European Commission building, the Anderlecht football stadium and into the lush, flat countryside outside the city.

The first of the 21 stages is expected to end in a bunch sprint in front of the Royal Palace in Brussels where Italian speed king Elia Viviani of local team Deceuninck-Quick Step is the man to beat.afp

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