Grand depart classic crop

What is the Grand Départ Classic?

The Grand Départ Classic is your opportunity to cycle the first stage of the 2019 Tour de France ahead of the pros, from 28-30 June 2019.

Taking place in Brussels, Belgium, this three day event (one day riding) is your opportunity to cycle on roads freshly paved for the pros, one week ahead of the Tour. Prove your prowess in the peleton and on the fundraising leader board and make a real difference to the lives of men with prostate cancer.

Fully signposted and supported, with all travel and accommodation included, you’ll be free to breeze through this scenic route which included some iconic cobbled climbs such as the Mur de Grammont.

Book your place before 17 August and use the discount code GDC25 to receive £25 off your registration fee.

Register your Interest

 

What’s not to love about riding the Grand Depart, socialising with a great group of people and raising funds for a cause close to my own heart.

- - Trevor Coxon, 2016 & 2018 rider

Are you up for the challenge?

On Saturday 23 June 2018, 221 cyclists completed the first stage of the 2018 Tour de France from Noirmoutier-en-Ille to Fontenay-le-Comte, just two weeks before the pros. It was the adventure of a lifetime, with cyclists coming from all walks of life: young and not so young, seasoned veterans and some who'd picked up a bike for the first time since childhood to take on the challenge.

Many had been inspired by the Tour de France, many had had their lives touched by prostate cancer and all had their personal reasons for taking part. To date, over £462,000 has been raised to help stop men dying of prostate cancer.

The 2019 route

The first stage of the 2019 Tour de France is generally flat with rolling roads, totalling 192km. 

View the route map

Brussels has staged the Tour on ten occasions, but not the start since 1958. The last time the race visited Brussels was in 2010, when Alessandro Petacchi won stage one from Rotterdam.

The last time Belgium hosted the Grand Départ was in 2012, when the Tour started in Liége.

What's the plan?

grand depart champagne

We'll take care of all the logistics, from booking accommodation to getting you and your bike out to Belgium and back again. All you'll need to do is focus on the road ahead.

Friday 28 June 2019: Meet at Ebbsfleet International station early morning for a Eurostar over to Brussels. After arriving in Brussels it is then a short coach trip to the hotel, followed by a leisurely afternoon with a pre-ride team meal in the evening. 

Saturday 29 June 2019: Ride Day. Early breakfast followed by short warm up ride to the official start of the 2019 Tour de France. The ride will begin at 7am, and you’ll have until 7pm to cycle the full route, finishing back in Brussels. After you cross the finish line, you'll have a short coach journey back to the hotel for your recovery and a celebration meal.

Sunday 30 June 2019: Return journey back to London via a Eurostar to Ebbsfleet. 

Start to finish a very well organised event, not a sportive, a family.

- Gary Evans, 2016, 2017 & 2018 rider

What do I need to do to take part?

There are two ways to take part:

Option 1: Minimum sponsorship

Pay a £149 non-refundable registration fee and then pledge to raise a minimum of £1,000 in sponsorship (excluding Gift Aid).

Option 2: Self-funder

Pay a £149 non-refundable registration fee and then pay a further £511 by 20 April to cover your full event costs. We'd then ask you to raise as much as you can with a recommended minimum of £250.

It's a fabulous experience, with an amazing cast of characters that participate and support your participation. Great camaraderie, great ride, great times...

- - David Lundholm, 2018 rider

Jersey competition

In the spirit of the Tour de France's four jerseys, we've been inspired to create our very own Grand Depart Classic jersey competition.

We've created four jerseys and they will each be awarded on the eve of next year's event.

grand depart classic jersey competition winners

  • The Yellow Jersey was awarded to the overall top fundraiser at midday on Thursday 27 June.
  • The Polka Jersey was awarded to the leading fundraiser at midday on Monday 1 April.
  • The Green Jersey was awarded to the first person to raise over £1,000 in sponsorship.
  • The White Jersey was awarded to the top fundraiser at midday on Thursday 27 June who is under the age of 36.
  • The Team Classification awards (those in a team of four or more) were awarded to the top fundraising team at midday on Thursday 27 June.

Check out the Jersey competition from the 2018 ride.

Any questions?

  • What's included?  

    We'll look after you and your bike throughout the event, from the moment you arrive on Friday morning in Ebbsfleet, to the moment you say farewell on the Sunday. The support we provide includes:

    • Two nights accommodation
    • All meals from Friday evening through to Sunday morning
    • Return Eurostar and between Ebbsfleet and Brussels, and then from the finish back to Ebbsfleet (including bike transfer)
    • Fully signed route, with feed stations, mechanical and medical support
    • Finishers medal
    • Your own Prostate Cancer UK cycle jersey
    • Professional rider numbers to wear and keep, confirming your unique entry
  • What about the ride itself?  

    How tough is it to cycle a stage of the Tour de France?

    We've deliberately chosen a stage that is relatively flat and suitable to complete for the 'average' cyclist, as long as you put in the training. Many of our 2018 riders started cycling again for the first time since their childhood and successfully completed the ride. If you are concerned about its difficulty, give Jermayne from the Sporting Events team a call on 0203 310 7034. He completed this year's and last year's event, and can tell you want to expect in 2019.

    How fast will I have to cycle?

    You'll need to cycle at a minimum speed of 12 mph to successfully complete the stage. Riders will begin the stage at approximately 7am, and have until around 7pm to cross the finish line.

    What support will I get to help me prepare?

    We work alongside renowned coaching company RunningWithUs to provide you with expert training plans and advice on a wide range of topics from getting started, ride kit, bike handling, group riding, strength and conditioning, nutrition and more. You'll also be able to speak to the coaches at RunningWithUs throughout your training to ensure you are fully fit on ride day.

    What type of bike will I need?

    We recommend using a road bike to help with speed, style and efficiency.

  • How many people are taking part?  

    We are aiming to recruit 350 riders to the event and raise over £400,000 to help beat prostate cancer.

  • How old do I need to be?  

    You must be 18 or over to take part.

  • What do I need to sign up?  

    You'll need to pay the £149 non-refundable registration fee to confirm your place. When booking your place you'll need to have your passport details to hand. There are two options:

    Option 1: Minimum sponsorship

    Pay a £149 non-refundable registration fee and then pledge to raise a minimum of £1,000 in sponsorship (excluding Gift Aid).

    Option 2: Self-funder

    Pay a £149 non-refundable registration fee and then pay a further £511 by 20 April to cover your full event costs. We'd then ask you to raise as much as you can with a recommended minimum of £250.

  • What happens after I sign up?  

    You'll get a call from someone in the Sporting Events team to welcome you on board, followed by an email to confirm your place, together with a pack in the post which includes your Prostate Cancer UK jersey to wear with pride throughout your preparations.

  • How can I meet others taking part?  

    Once you sign up, we'll invite you to the event's Facebook group so that you can say hello to the other riders taking part and share your preparations with everyone.

  • Where does the event start?  

    The event begins on the Friday morning in Ebbsfleet. The finer details will be confirmed nearer the time.

  • Can I bring my family and friends along with me?  

    We can provide you with all the travel and accommodation details so your family and friends can make their own plans to see you during the event.

  • Can I extend my stay after the event?  

    Yes, you can. Please just let us know in advance and ensure you keep hold of your bike or arrange for someone to collect it back in Ebbsfleet when the event finishes.

  • I'd like to ask something else  

    Contact Jermayne, Jon or Andy from the Sporting Events team online, or give them a call on 0203 310 7034.