Logo of Tour de France over an aerial city image of Barcelona
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South we go. The venue chosen for the Grand Départ of the 2026 Tour de France will set a new record in the history of the event, as Barcelona, straddling the 41st parallel, will edge out Porto-Vecchio as the southernmost start of the race by a dozen minutes of latitude. The Grande Boucle has already graced the streets of the Catalan capital, most recently in 2009, when Thor Hushovd outsprinted the Spanish speedsters Óscar Freire and José Joaquín Rojas to take stage6 right next to Montjuïc Stadium. Since that fleeting Spanish sojourn, the Tour has gone through the wild experience of a Grand Départ in the Basque Country in 2023 and is now gearing up for another equally intense adventure on the shores of the Mediterranean. The Grande Boucle will share a momentous occasion with the people of Barcelona, as the Sagrada Família is slated to finally reach completion in 2026. The cathedral, whose silhouette has become an iconic symbol of Barcelona, sprang from the brilliant mind of the architect Antoni Gaudí, who adorned the city with numerous buildings and part of his whimsical spirit before he died, as fate would have it, in 1926.

Barcelona is a global architecture hub and a nexus of sport in Spain. Long before the 1992 Olympic Games, Montjuïc Hill was the scene of a street circuit that hosted events such as the Formula1 Spanish GP in the 1970s. Even more importantly, the city is the focal point of one of the oldest and most prestigious races on the cycling calendar: the Volta a Catalunya, first held in 1911. The Vuelta a España has visited Barcelona 40 times over the years, including two starts in 1962 and 2023. French fans of a certain age will no doubt recall a blink-and-you-miss-it 3.8km time trial in 1978, which Bernard Hinault won en route to his first Vuelta a España triumph. There is something for the tifosi too, with Felice Gimondi’s world championship victory here in 1973, as well as the poignant memory of Fabio Casartelli’s Olympic gold in 1992. The Belgian Claude Criquielion topped the podium when the Worlds returned to Barcelona in 1984. Meanwhile, Spanish cycling maniacs will remember one of their all-time greats, Alejandro Valverde, and his two stage wins in Barcelona in the Volta a Catalunya, a race he won four times. Last but not least, Catalan aficionats have plenty of time to watch the local talent Juan Ayuso continue developing into an even finer rider, primed to shine on home roads in 2026.

Tour de France stages in Barcelona

2009
Stage 6 , Girona > Barcelona, 181.5km (Thor Hushovd, NOR)
Stage 7, Barcelona > Andorra Arcalís, 224km (Brice Feillu, FRA)

1965
Stage 11 , Ax-les-Thermes > Barcelona, 240km (José Pérez Francés, ESP)
Stage12 , Barcelona > Perpignan, 219km (Jan Janssen, NED)

1957
Stage 15a , Perpignan > Barcelona, 197 km (René Privat, FRA)
Stage 15b , Barcelona > Barcelona, 9.6km ITT (Jacques Anquetil, FRA)
Stage 16 , Barcelona > Ax-les-Thermes, 220km (Jean Bourlès, FRA)

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