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More Than Just a Race: The 2024 Tour de France Makes History

Posted on Monday, December 11th, 2023

Story by: Molly Waldstein | Travel Writer


The year 2024 will be an historic year for the Tour de France—with a number of significant firsts on the docket for next year’s race.

More Than Just a Race: The 2024 Tour de France Makes History

VBT Field Operations Manager Matt Lyon is a passionate cyclist and hardcore fan of the Tour de France. To share his love of cycling with his teenaged son, the pair took a family trip to France in June 2023 to watch the race in person. “My son had an amazing time! Before our trip, we’d been watching cycling races together on TV,” Matt recalls. “In terms of our relationship—and also his relationship to cycling as a sport, it was one of the most special moments we’ve had by far.”

In true cycle-fan fashion, the pair parked their van a few miles from where the Tour de France peloton was battling it out on the hills, and they got out their bikes and started to ride ahead—hoping to make it up the final hill before the road was closed off. “There’s no way you would ever wonder if you were riding the Tour de France route because there are fans literally lining the streets,” Matt chuckles. “We pedaled for about 20 kilometers up a pretty good hill—but even still, we barely made it to the base of the real climb before the police shut down all the independent riders. So, we just pulled over and watched the race to the finish. It was epic!” The excitement of witnessing the legendary race in person was contagious—kindling a spark of inspiration to last a lifetime.

The year 2024 will be an historic year for the Tour de France—with a number of significant firsts on the docket for next year’s race. Most notably, for the first time, the Grand Départ will take place in Italy—a historic achievement for the Italian organizing team. And in another exciting innovation, the 2024 race will end in Nice—a big change from the standard Paris finish. But best of all, from VBT’s perspective anyways, the 2024 Tour de France will run straight through our backyards—in Beaujolais, Burgundy, Tuscany, and Piedmont—making 2024 the perfect year to join a VBT bicycling vacation and experience the Tour de France up close.

Emilia Romagna Leads the Charge

Andrea Manusia is an Italian Tour de France organizer—and a close VBT friend. He recently spoke with us about planning the historic Italian Grand Départ. “It started when the Tour de France organization reached out to Davide Cassani,” recalls Andrea. “He’s the president of the Emilia Romagna tourism board and manager of the Italian national cycling team. Davide was also a famous professional rider in the 1980s and 1990s—and later worked as a TV journalist covering Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. So, he’s very well-connected in the professional cycling world, and that made a big difference to our success.” For three years the Italian team worked tirelessly to make their vision of an Italian Grand Départ a reality—and in 2024 those efforts will finally come to fruition.

Not only will 2024 mark the first time the race kicks off in Italy, but the mountainous landscape of the Apennines gives the 2024 Grand Départ another new innovation. “The 2024 race starts in Florence, then heads into the mountains,” says Andrea. “With 4,500 meters of elevation gain over a span of 205 kilometers, it will be very exciting—and it’s also an historic opening because Stage 1 of the Grand Départ is typically a flat stage or a time trial. This is the first time the Tour de France will open with a mountain stage.” Cycling fans from around the world will line the streets from Florence to Rimini to experience this historic occasion first-hand.

With the Grand Départ in Florence, 2024 is an historic year to travel to Tuscany! With the June 11 or June 13 departure of our Italy: Tuscany, Chianti & Marina di Castagneto Guided Tour, it’s easy to independently extend your stay to catch the first or second stage of this epic race in person. But don’t delay! With the 2024 Tour de France map recently revealed, space is booking up fast.

Stage 2 of the 2024 Tour de France is another historic run from Cesenatico to Bologna—and a chance to honor a past champion. “Stage 2 starts in Cesenatico and is dedicated to Marco Pantani—the icon of Emilia-Romagna cycling,” says Andrea. “In 1998, Marco won both the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia—and so Stage 2 is dedicated to this great Italian cycling hero.” Another hilly stage, riders will compete over 200 kilometers of steep terrain, culminating in a stunning finish at the Santuario di San Luca at the crest of a steep incline. “It’s going to really tough,” says Andrea. “Only the top climbers will make it to the finish line—Pogačar, Vingegaard… the best of the best.”

For lovers of northern Italy, Stage 3 from Plaisance to Turin will be a short, exciting sprint over 25 kilometers. Travelers on VBT’s June 15th departure of Italy: Piedmont, Langhe & the Italian Riviera Guided Tour can independently plan to enjoy an extra week exploring the region after their VBT tour concludes—allowing them to catch Stage 3 live and in person in Turin on July 1.

VBT travelers joining July departures of Italy: Valleys of the Dolomites Guided Tour, Italy: Lake Como & the Italian Lake District Guided Tour, or Italy: The Dolomites, Bolzano to Ora Self-Guided Tour can make independent plans to see the historic Italian Grand Départ before the start of their cycling vacation.

The Tour De France in Our Own Backyard

When we say the Tour de France is running through our own backyard, we mean that literally—at least for VBT Field Operations Manager Jeff Bossler. A native of Mâcon, France, Jeff is lucky enough to live just a few hundred meters from the 2024 Tour de France route. “We’re making plans to celebrate the race VBT style,” says Jeff—elated by the newly-released map of the 2024 Tour de France Stage 6. “We’ll have VBT signs and perhaps even a VBT van on display. And of course, as cycling fans, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be there in person and cheer the riders on to victory.” Guests on VBT’s France: Vineyards of Beaujolais Self-Guided Tour will ride exactly the same route as the Tour de France from Mâcon to Cluny—and those lucky few who book the June 28 departure will actually be in Mâcon on the day of the Tour de France and can watch this historic event in person while on tour. Be sure to reserve your space early!

Travelers on VBT’s France: The Burgundy Wine Region & Dijon Guided Tour will have just as many opportunities to ride the Tour de France route—and potentially catch a piece of the live action. “Although we won’t be there on the day of the race, we will still ride the routes. On Day 3 of our tour, we’ll ride along the canal from Chalon-sur-Saône, crossing the Tour de France route—then for 10 kilometers we’ll be riding in the exact footsteps of the race into Beaune,” explains Jeff. “The next day we’ll follow the route of the Stage 7 time trial for 25 kilometers along the Routes Des Grandes Crus between Nuits-Saint-Georges and Gevrey-Chambertin.” Travelers on the June 13 departure of France: The Burgundy Wine Region & Dijon Guided Tour can independently add some extra time in the region—allowing them to experience the Tour de France Stage 7 live and in person on July 4. Hope to see you there!

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