Back in 2004, Robbie McEwen's victory in Guéret marked the first time the Tour de France had visited the department of Creuse, which had been the only administrative region in mainland France not to have welcomed La Grande Boucle. Nine years later, Corsica's absence from the Tour's roll of honour will end when the 2013 edition gets under way in Porto-Vecchio.
Sticking largely to the island's less rugged east coast, this stage provides a relatively gentle way in to the race. It starts off rolling but once past 60km, there is nothing to trouble the world's best riders, unless the wind gets up. Locals suggest that this would be unusual as conditions tend to be calm during summer. The sprinters' teams should have plenty of time to reel in any escape before getting down to the serious work of setting up their speedsters for a final fling that will reward the winner with at least one day in yellow. Mark Cavendish will be heavily tipped to take one of the two wins he needs to join André Leducq at third in the all-time list with 25.
Stephen Roche: "I think Corsica's a great choice for the Grand Départ. The scenery is absolutely fantastic, although the roads are not quite up to that level a lot of the time. The riders are being eased into the race with this stage - no real difficulties and a sprint looks almost certain."
1987 Tour de France champion Stephen Roche claimed his first stage race win at the Tour of Corsica in 1981 little more than a month after turning pro. Roche's son, Nicolas, will be hoping fortune looks favourably on the family again as he starts the race as one of Alberto Contador's key support riders at Saxo-Tinkoff.