Mouilleron-le-Captif - Next
year's Tour de France will begin on a notorious, slippery passageway
linking an island off the west coast to the mainland, organisers ASO
revealed on Tuesday.
The Grand Depart of the 105th edition of the world's most prestigious
cycle race will start on June 30, 2018 on the 4km Passage du Gois - a
natural periodically flooded land-bridge from the island of Noirmoutier
to the Vendee department in the Loire region with a 195km flat stage.
The passage has a infamous place in Tour history as it proved
decisive in helping Lance Armstrong win the first of his seven titles -
he was later stripped of all of them for doping - in 1999.
Many of the favourites, including Switzerland's Alex Zulle, crashed
on the slippery cobbles and ended up losing six minutes to the American,
who would eventually win the Tour by seven minutes.
The passage last featured at the Tour in 2011, when it also hosted the Grand Depart.
After a second flat stage of 185km, the third stage on July 2, 2018 will be a 35km team timetrial around Cholet.
The race will then leave the Vendee department the following day
although the destination of the fourth stage and the programme for the
rest of the 2018 Tour will not be revealed until October.
In the meantime, the 2017 Tour will start in Dusseldorf, Germany on July 1.
Britain's Chris Froome is the current champion having won the race for the third time last year.