Cycling News

2024 Paris Olympic torch lit in traditional ceremony; relay journey to France begins

2024 Paris Olympic torch lit in traditional ceremony; relay journey to France begins

On Tuesday, the flame for the 2024 Paris Olympics was ignited in Olympia, birthplace of the ancient Games, initiating its relay journey to illuminate the Summer Games’ cauldron in July. Amidst dignitaries and spectators at the historic stadium, the flame was ceremoniously lit, invoking the traditions of ancient Greece. Actresses representing priestesses guided the head priestess to the Temple of Hera, where the flame was ignited using a parabolic mirror and the rays of the sun, following a ritual established in 1936. This eternal flame symbolizes the Games’ pursuit of excellence and human unity.

The journey to France

Greek Olympic gold medalist Stefanos Ntouskos began the torch relay. Over 600 torchbearers will cover 5,000 km across Greece in 11 days, culminating in a handover ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. From there, the flame will journey to Marseille aboard the historic vessel Belem, arriving in France on May 8 for the next phase of the relay.

Over the years, the torch has been carried by hundreds of thousands, with an estimated 10,000 torchbearers passing it hand to hand. It will reach the Olympic cauldron in Paris on July 26 and remain alight until the Closing Ceremony two weeks later. Additionally, the flame will illuminate the Paralympic Games from August 28 to September 8, with 1,000 torchbearers traversing 50 French towns and cities.

The Olympics and the Tour de France

Given the dates of the Olympics, the Tour de France will start earlier in 2024. The 11th edition, will kick off in Florence, Italy on June 29 and conclude in Nice, France on July 21. Notably, it will deviate from its traditional Parisian finish for the first time due to preparations for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Tour de France 2024 to conclude with time trial in Nice

The final stage into Nice will also be a 34 km-time trial. This is the first time the Tour has finished with a contre le montre since 1989. Greg LeMond would win back the yellow jersey in dramatic fashion, putting 58 seconds into Laurent Fignon on the run into Paris. The American would take the closest Tour de France finish in history, with just eight seconds over the Frenchman.

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