Cycling's Tour de France will start in Monaco in 2009, opening on the Mediterranean coast for the first time in 28 years, organizers said Thursday.

Prince Albert II, the principality's ruler, will be present at a Dec. 14 event when more details will be announced, organizers said in a statement.

It's the first time Monaco has hosted the first leg of the 104-year-old race. The last time it began on the Mediterranean coast was in Nice in 1981.

The Tour de France traditionally starts and ends in Paris, although London, Liege, Luxembourg and Dublin have all held the first stage over the last decade as organizers seek to increase the race's profile abroad.

The 2008 edition will begin in Brest in northern France.