The Italians have waited 121 years after the birth of the Tour de France to host the start of the Tour de France. 29 June is precisely 100 days away. This symbolic milestone was especially celebrated in Florence, where the streets and landmarks are now adorned in yellow. A countdown clock has been installed in the Piazza della Repubblica.

Like the Palazzo Vecchio in the Tuscan capital, several landmarks in the Italian cities participating in the 2024 Tour de France are illuminated: the Tiberius Bridge and the Arch of Augustus in Rimini, the skyscraper in Cesenatico, the Gothic palace in Piacenza and the Mole d’Antonelli in Turin.

Several French towns followed suit and officially launched the festivities that will continue until the day the race passes through. They will be in action tomorrow through their children, who will work on the Tour’s dictation.


A visit to Florence often begins with the Palazzo Vecchio, constructed in the heart of the city in the 14th century as the seat of the Florentine Republic and now home to the Town Hall. This was the first stage chosen in the morning for the route taken by Christian Prudhomme and his companions for the day, who were all doing reconnaissance before the big event at the end of June.

It was also, in a way, the objective set by the very young cyclists selected by the Italian Cycling Federation and a handful of regulars of the vintage Eroica race, who had come from the Cascine park, where the 111th edition of the race will be held for the first time, to join the Tour de France contingent.

A quick morning stroll, led by the traditional brass band of the “Famiglia del Gonfalone”, led them to the Piazza della Republica, where a number of surprises awaited the director of the Tour de France. As well as the Mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, another orchestra, the Conservatorio Cherubini, provided musical accompaniment to the official ceremony, playing the French and Italian anthems on accordions.

And to symbolically welcome the Tour, Tuscan rider Daniele Bennati, a two-time stage winner of the 2007 Tour de France, offered a few welcome words: “It’s a great source of pride to host the Grand Départ of the Tour de France. And as the race draws near, I am beginning to regret that I’m no longer a pro rider!”

The seven Italian winners of the Tour de France – Ottavio Bottecchia, Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi, Gastone Nencini, Felice Gimondi, Marco Pantani and Vincenzo Nibali – have contributed to forging links between the two countries through the strength of their legs.

However, the Grand Départ of the 111th edition also allowed the Mayor of Florence to provide a brief history lesson on the very close relationship between France and the House of Medici, which reigned over Florence from the fifteenth century onwards.

“Catherine de Medici married Henry II, and Marie de Medici, who became Queen of France by marrying Henry IV, was also the grandmother of Louis XIV,” explains Dario Nardella, who then returns to a smaller time scale to talk in impeccable French about the genesis of the Grand Départ: “We’ve been working together for over ten years since I remember that our first meeting with Christian Prudhomme was during the world cycling championships that we organised in 2013. We had already been thinking about the Tour de France, and now it’s a dream come true. With this grand premiere, it’s a bit like the Tour of Records, and we’ve reserved a sumptuous setting for it to kick off: the peloton will start from the Piazza della Signoria at the foot of the replica of Michelangelo’s David. The Tour de France has ties to the golden age of our national cycling, and this will be an opportunity to relaunch the sport in Italy so that we can have a great champion again”.

One hundred twenty-two days will pass until the riders embark on the final battle, where the 32-kilometre time trial will start from Monaco and finish in Nice. But the Principality also turned yellow today, in keeping with the festivities organised in Florence. On The Rock, the Prince’s Palace was illuminated, as were the Château of Henri IV in Pau, the Dijon town hall and the theatre in Villeneuve-sur-Lot.

Among other specially illuminated sites in the French countryside and towns, the almost 45-metre-high Lorraine cross erected at the Charles-de-Gaulle memorial in Colombey-les-deux-Eglises also took on an unusual hue: precisely that of the jersey worn by Florentine rider Gastone Nencini when the 1960 Tour peloton stopped in the village to greet the former French President.

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