It’s official! The 2024 edition of the Tour de France will culminate with a special time trial between the Principality of Monaco and the city of Nice in a radical departure from the usual Paris finish on the Champs-Élysées.
On 5th December, Prince Albert II of Monaco and Minister of State Pierre Dartout welcomed an official delegation from the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), the organisers of the Tour de France, at the Yacht Club de Monaco.
The motive for the meeting was to sign an agreement between the Principality and the ASO that formalises Monaco’s role as the start line host of the final leg of the Tour, which will be held on 21st July 2024.
“A RELATIONSHIP OF TRUST”
“Signing a contract is obviously always very important, even if we had no doubt that it would take place,” said ASO Director Christian Prudhomme at the event. “We have had a relationship of trust with the Principality for a long time.”
This connection goes back to the post-war era. The Grand Boucle had been put on hold for obvious reasons during World War II, and with much of France in a shambles in the following years, there was simply no money to resume the race.
“Without the Grimaldi family, the Tour de France would perhaps never have restarted in 1947,” Prudhomme reminded the assembled crowd at the Yacht Club. “In 1946, after the war, it was because your family, Monseigneur [Prince Albert], paid for accommodation for the riders of a Monaco-Paris trip that, the following year, the Tour de France was able to rise from the ashes.”
Given that the French capital will be hosting the Olympic Games at the same time as the final stages of the Tour, organisers were keen as far back as 2018 to find an alternative.
In the end, it was decided that the last leg could be entrusted to no other place than the Côte d’Azur and ASO approached Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi. He reportedly leapt at the offer.
“He said ‘Yes!’ straight away, and from then on, it was obvious to us: the start had to be Monaco,” explained Prudhomme. “For us, there was clearly no Plan B, the last leg had to be Monaco-Nice.”
By next summer, it will have been 15 years since the Tour last visited the Principality.
“It was difficult to imagine when the Tour could come to Monaco,” said Prince Albert, who added, “We have a good collaboration, and I would even say a friendship, not only with Christian Prudhomme, but also everyone involved in the organisation. I think I can say, and I hope, that the Tour will return regularly to the Principality.”
Prudhomme convivially replied, “If we have to come a little more often than every 15 years, that wouldn’t bother us!”
The Tour de France is one of the world’s most watched sporting events. It is screened in 190 countries around the world, with a total viewership topping the 3.5 billion mark in 2023.
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Photo credits: Michael Alesi / Prince’s Palace