Thousands of cyclists have made their way through Sarajevo in a "Race for Peace" to mark 100 years since Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination sparked World War I.

The throng, including 140 professional racers, rode from the predominantly Bosnian-Serb eastern side of Sarajevo to the centre of the city, which has been administered separately by Muslim-Croats since the end of Bosnia's devastating 1992-95 war.

The cycle was the ceremonial opening leg of the Sarajevo Grand Prix, sponsored by the Tour de France, which aims to promote peace in a city that has so often been the centre of conflict.

"This is a step toward bringing people throughout Bosnia together and this is what we, cyclists, have already been doing for some time here," Bosnian Serb cyclist Zeljko Vukic said.

Archduke Ferdinand's assassination on 28 June 1914 coincided with the beginning of the 12th Tour de France in Paris, Tour de France manager Christian Prudhomme noted.

"The race started from Porte de Saint-Cloud in Paris, and later in the morning the archduke was murdered," he said.

After the ceremonial ride professional cyclists from 40 countries began the race proper, the first international event of its kind held in Bosnia.

It will cover 140 kilometres, passing through Bosnia's three post-war entities populated by Muslim, Serb and Croat communities.

Some 100,000 people were killed in Bosnia's inter-ethnic war.