Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, on Tuesday morning unveiled the programme for the 2013 Grand Départ on the island of Corsica. The race's one-hundredth edition will see the Mediterranean island host three stages in what will be the Tour's first visit to Corsica, after having visited all the departments of mainland France, since its inception in 1903.
The first stage will see the peloton start in Porto-Vecchio in the south of the island for what should be a bunch sprint finish further north in Bastia. From Porto-Vecchio, the race will travel south to the cliffs of Bonifacio before moving up north again on one of the rare flat roads on the island to the stage finish in Bastia.
Stage two, on the other hand, will give the climbers the first opportunity to express themselves. Riders will start in Bastia and then move westwards over the challenging mountains of Corsica, via Corte, to finish in Ajaccio on the island's west coast. That day, climbs will include the Col de Bellagranajo (723m), Col de la Serra (807m) and Col de Vizzavona (1,163m) passes. Ten kilometres from the finish, the ascent of the steep slope of Monte Salario will provide another hurdle.
The third and final day on Corsica will then involve another mountainous stage from Ajaccio to Calvi along the west coast, including spectacular viewpoints over the coves at Piana, a World Heritage site. Main obstacles on this route will be the Col de San Bastiano (415 m) at kilometre 15, and then further on, the Cols de Lava (498 m), de Palmarella (374 m) and de Marsolino (443 m). For its first three stages on Corsica, the 2013 Tour could thus see the yellow jersey change shoulders every day before the race arrives on mainland France.
"The setting of the Island of Beauty will definitely offer a terrain and roads designed for attacks and we are already thoroughly looking forward to enjoying the magnificent scenery boasted by the sea and the mountains!" commented Prudhomme.
The Corsican stages of the 2013 Tour de France:
Saturday June 29: Porto-Vecchio - Bastia, 200 km
Sunday June 30: Bastia - Ajaccio, 155 km
Monday July 1: Ajaccio - Calvi, 145 km