Tour de France 2022: Le Grand Depart

The Tour de France is the most followed competition in the world after the Olympic Games and the World Cup! It is broadcast in 186 countries on 121 TV channels.

Written by Matilda Marseillaise

24 Jun 2022

4 min read

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The Tour de France 2022 will start not in France but in Denmark

The Tour de France Grand Départ (the great departure) will be not in France but from Copenhagen in Denmark this year. This first day of the race is known as the Grand Départ (the great departure).

What is the Tour de France?

In short, it’s an annual cycling race throughout France held over 23 days: 2 are rest days, 21 are cycling days. For each of the 21 cycling days of the Tour de France, male competitors cycle from one town onto another, in what are known as étapes (or stages in English). There is also a women’s counterpart: the Tour de France femmes which takes place over 8 days in late July.

The Tour de France is the French counterpart to two other cycling races in neighbouring countries: the Giro d’Italia and the Vuleta a Espaňa.

The Tour de France is the most followed competition in the world after the Olympic Games and the World Cup! It is broadcast in 186 countries on 121 TV channels. 

How long has the Tour de France been running?

It all started almost 120 years ago. The first Tour de France was held in 1903. The only thing to stop the race from going ahead were the two World Wars. There was no Tour de France in 1915-1918 and from 1940-1946. The COVID pandemic didn’t end the race – it just stopped the cross-border aspect to it.  

What does the winner get?

Apart from the maillot jaune (yellow jersey), the winner also takes home a cash prize.  

But why is a French race starting in Denmark?

Since the 1970s, the Tour de France has started in other European nations. Hosting the Grand Départ has become highly sought after with many cities bidding to host the event. It’s a win-win, cities who host the race benefit from increases to economic activity as well as cycling in the area and the Tour de France gains a new audience in a new country. 

As for why Denmark was chosen, it’s an international city known for its environmental conscience. 9 out of 10 Danes own a bicycle and Denmark is billing itself as the land of cycling. Denmark has about 12,000 km of bike routes and bike lanes. Every weekday in Copenhagen, the 673,000 bikes in cycle the equivalent of 400 editions of the Tour de France!

Where have other Grand Départs left from?

During COVID-19 the Tour de France went ahead but without the cross-border element. The 2020 edition departed from Nice in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and the 2020 edition from Brest in Brittany.

Netherlands, Belgium, West Germany (as it was known at the time) and even the United Kingdom have each hosted the Grand Départ a few times. Spain has to date only held it once when it departed from San Sebastián. Dublin in Ireland also hosted the Grand Départ in 1998. Denmark is the first Nordic country to host the Grand Départ.

Where does it finish?

It may leave from different places and follow a different route each year but the Tour de France always, or at least since 1975, finishes its final stage, stage 21 on the Champs-Elysées. 

Where does the race start in France?

In 2022, the Tour de France will start its French leg with stage 4 on day 5 in Dunkerque. You can see the complete list of stages on the official Tour de France website by clicking on “ROUTE” on the left hand-side. 

Why is it le Tour de France when it’s la Tour Eiffel?

Because the word “tour” has two different meanings. In Tour Eiffel it means “tower”. In Tour de France it’s a “tour” of France. 

Where will the Grand Départ be next year?

Bilbao in Spain’s Basque country has been selected for the 2023 Tour de France Grand Départ.

When does the Tour de France 2022 start?

This year’s Tour starts in Copenhagen on 1 July and will conclude on the Champs-Elysées on 24 July. The tour de France femmes starts in Paris that same day. 

How to watch the Tour de France 2022 in Australia

SBS Australia is the Australian official broadcaster of the Tour de France and will have nightly coverage of the stages. 



Key Vocabulary for Le Tour de France:

Échappé a breakaway rider – someone who has broken away from the peleton (see below) 

Équipe team (each has 9 cyclists)

Étape a stage of the race

Grand Départ (the great departure)

Maillot jaune  the yellow jersey – worn by the overall leader of the race

Parcours route

Peloton – the main group of cyclists – comes from the French word originally meaning small ball

Tête de course – the leader for that stage/day

Matilda Marseillaise

Matilda Marseillaise, affectionately known as MM, is a bilingual (French and English) website about all things French and francophone in Australia. The site’s creator and writer has travelled the world and has lived in France and Belgium but currently calls Australia her permanent home. Learning French from a young age, she went on to study it at university level and had a strong interest and passion for French culture. While she no longer lives in France or Belgium, she has kept the French joie de vivre in her Aussie life.

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