Tour de France General Director Christian Prudhomme revealed on Thursday that the first stage of the 2015 race will be an individual time-trial in the Dutch city of Utrecht.
Utrecht had been awarded the 2015 start a few weeks back but on Thursday Prudhomme announced the decision to begin with race against the clock during a press conference at the residence of the Dutch ambassador to France.
Being a time-trial rather than a prologue, which is often the preferred start to the Tour – riders now risk being eliminated on the very first stage, although that scenario is unlikely.
Prudhomme explained: “The difference is that if you fail in the prologue, you still start the next day in the first stage race while here if you arrive out of the time-based cut-off point in this first stage, you won’t be at the start of the second stage. The time trial will be completely flat, will cross the city from east to west and back. The return is tailor made for the specialists, the fast racers.”
The second stage on Sunday, July 5 will also take place in Utrecht before the Tour heads home to France.
It will be a record sixth time for one foreign country to host the ‘Grand depart’.
The Netherlands first staged the Tour opener in 1954 when Amsterdam was afforded the privilege.