Ajaccio - The French island of Corsica will host the first three stages of the centenary edition of the Tour de France in 2013, officials announced on Tuesday.
Corsica, which lies off the southern French coast, is considered one of the most idyllic islands in Europe and will host three stages on the route from Porto-Vecchio to Calvi.
After announcing what will be a first for cycling's premier event, race director Christian Prudhomme said: "For the hundredth edition of the race, we wanted to go somewhere new, somewhere spectacular.
"In Corsica, we have all of that."
Prudhomme signed the relevant contracts on Tuesday with Paul Giacobbi, a top local official who has built on a 2007 idea by former journalist Pierre Cangioni to get the race to the island.
After the teams' presentation in Porto-Vecchio, where a docked ship will host the press room, the first stage over 201.5km from Porto-Vecchio to Bastia, via Bonifacio, will favour the sprinters in the peloton.
A second stage over 153km will link Bastia to Ajaccio via Corte and will likely favour the climbing specialists.
The third stage is even shorter but will have plenty to offer over the 145km from Ajaccio to Calvi, via the famous ruby red rocks around Piana in the north west of the island.
"We have everything in place for an enchanting start to the race," added Prudhomme.
The race, created by French rider and sports journalist Henri Desgrange in 1903, will mark its centenary in 2013 as it did not take place during the two World Wars.
All the regions of France have hosted a stage of the Tour but the race has never previously crossed over to Corsica, the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, for logistical reasons.
In 2012, the Tour starts on June 30 in the Belgian city of Liege.