The town selection process

  • © Tarzoun

The town selection process

The town selection process

Faced with a map of France and armed with a box of drawing pins, Christian Prudhomme and his staff plan the route of Le Tour de France that the future champions will have to follow… two or three years later. The choosing of a new town for the Grand Départ is a subject that gives rise to lively debate for several years before being settled on. Just like the final finish in Paris, this tradition has been respected ever since the first edition of Le Tour.


With Rotterdam having been chosen as the starting point for 2010 and over 200 candidate towns on the table, there are countless possibilities before arriving on the Champs-Élysées. Certain limits are imposed by the international regulations, which stipulate that the total mileage of Le Tour must not exceed 3,500 km, spread over 21 days’ racing (2 days of rest compulsory), during which the distance of 225 km cannot be exceeded more than twice. The Le Tour supremo then endeavours to respect the tremendous balance that has made the event the success it is today: several flat stages during the first week, high mountain stages contested in the Alps and Pyrenees, two days reserved for time trials (one of which can be contested by teams) and, insofar as possible, regular passage through all the regions of France. So far, the only two departments never to have played host to Le Tour are those making up the island of Corsica.

Candidate towns

Welcoming Le Tour de France represents a chance for a community to find itself in the headlines for 24 hours as it accommodates the stopover of a small mobile town of approximately 4,500 persons (plus the spectators who travel there) and organises a day of festivities for its residents.
In 2008, 252 towns applied to host a stage of the Tour de France. The scrutinisation of their bids is subject to the correspondence between their geographical position and the main themes dictated by the sporting objectives. Certain towns which are strategically positioned on the Alpine or Pyrenean routes are visited more frequently than the others.