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Tour looks set to move due north after starting in the Vendée
With more than two months still to go before the route of the 2011 Tour de France is unveiled in Paris, details are starting to emerge about stages likely to feature after the opening – and already announced – days in the Vendée region of western France. According to Ouest France, stage finishes are being considered in the Breton towns of Redon and Châteaulin. The coastal town Lorient is also in line to host a stage start.
Lorient mayor Norbert Métairie described preparations for the Tour’s potential arrival next July as being “on the right track”. Métairie told Ouest France: “I had Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme here in May and I confirmed to him that we were interested in hosting a Tour stage in 2011. For the time being nothing is official and there are some technical details to be resolved, but things are looking good.”
Métairie also revealed details about how the Tour will reach Lorient and where it will head when it leaves the town. “The Tour would arrive at Redon on the evening of July 4 and the riders would transfer from there to Lorient for the night for the start at midday the next day,” said Métairie.
Indications are that the fourth stage would run between Lorient and Châteaulin. Gaëlle Nicolas, mayor of Châteaulin, admitted to Ouest France: “We’ve made a counter-proposal to [Tour organizers] ASO after our first proposal was complicated by the fact that the finish area was located in an area where the flora and fauna are protected. We have to combine administrative and sporting requirements, as the organizers are requesting that the stage finishes at the summit of a hill.”
ASO have already revealed plans for the opening two days of the 2011 Tour. The opening stage will take place on July 2 and will take the race 180km from the Passage de Gois to Mont des Alouettes, just outside Les Herbiers. Stage two will be a 23km team time trial at Les Essarts.
Stage three is scheduled to start in Olonne-sur-Mer and could run to Redon on July 4, with the heavily rumoured Lorient-Châteaulin stage to follow on July 5.