The Tour de France kicks off without a prologue (or time trial) for the first time since 1967; instead it starts with a rolling 195-kilometre road stage. After crossing four fourth category climbs the stage finishes at the top of the Côte de Cadoual – locally known as the Breton Alpe d'Huez. As there will be no time bonuses available on the stage, the first yellow jersey will securely be taken by the stage winner. The hilltop finish though, means that this is unlikely to be one for the pure sprinters.
Brest, a sub-prefecture of the department of Finistère and the most westerly city in mainland France, is a stage town for the 29th time and will host the Grand Départ for the third time – after 1952 and 1974. Its other big claim to cycling fame is of course the fact that it is the turning point of the epic 1200-kilometre Paris-Brest-Paris endurance event.
Cycling mad Plumelec hosts a stage finish for the third time, as well as hosting the prologue on 1985 when local boy Bernard Hinault won. The last time the Tour finished here the stage was won by Erik Zabel (then Telekom, now Milram) who overcame a youthful Frank Vandenbroucke (Mapei-GB) who misjudged the length of the climb to the finishing line.