Tour de France 2010: Stage 1 preview
Date: Sunday, July 4 2010
From/to: Rotterdam to Brussels
Start town: Rotterdam
Renowned for its architecture, the Dutch city of Rotterdam has earned an international reputation for its striking, modern constructions. The devastating aerial bombardment of 14 May 1940 reduced the town centre to ruins, leaving architects and town planners free to set a more modern stamp on the reconstructed city.
In 1953, Rotterdam became the first European city to introduce a completely pedestrianised street, called the Lijnbaan. The ultra-modern Groothandelsgebouw building was constructed that same year, followed by the inauguration of the Euromast in 1960.
The city has been transformed, with unparalleled daring and amazing technical genius, into an impressive, cosmopolitan metropolis. The Erasmus bridge by the architect Ben van Berkel, which has quickly become a symbol of the city, the Kunsthal by Rem Koolhaas and the KPN building by the Italian architect Renzo Piano are just a few examples of the architectural works which have, over recent decades, created the resolutely dynamic and inspired face of Rotterdam.
Finish town: Brussels
Brussels, a city with a rich history dating back thousands of years, has been the capital of Europe since 1992. The "European district" is home to all the European institutions and the main EU buildings.
The most well known, and the most emblematic, is the European Parliament, known as the "Caprice des Dieux" by locals due to its oval shape, reminiscent of the packaging of Caprice des Dieux cheese. This district is the hub of European life. 40,000 people work here and a mix of languages can be heard from Place du Luxembourg to the market on Place du Châtelain. However, as well as being a European city, Brussels holds an international role.
It has the highest number of diplomats and journalists in the world, 1,400 international organisations and NGOs are based in the Belgian capital, as well as 2,000 foreign companies. In 2010, Brussels' position as the heart of Europe will be emphasised when it takes over the Presidency of the European Union from Spain on 1 July for six months.
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index