Two Dutch cities are teaming up to lure the start of the Tour de France cycle race north for 2024 or 2025. Rotterdam and the Hague are putting a combined €29 million into the effort.
Despite the race's name and that most of the route is in France, in recent years it has become increasingly common for the 'Grand Depart' to take place elsewhere, part of a strategy for building international interest and support for the sport. From 1903 to 1950 it only once started outside the Paris region (in 1926 it began in the chic resort of Évian-les-Bains).
From 1950 on, it shifted to different areas of France with an occasional one-off shift across a nearby border to Belgium, Netherlands or Germany; since the late 70s, it has started outside France more than a third of the years, going as far as Denmark and the UK. This year's race starts in Brest, France, with the next two earmarked for Copenhagen, Denmark and Bilbao in Spain's Basque Country.