Tour 2011 to start on Passage du Gois

A windmill along the route of the Tour of Vendée.

A windmill along the route of the Tour of Vendée. (Image credit: Bruno Bade)

Tour de France organiser ASO has revealed the itinerary of the 2011 Tour's first stages in the Vendée region. Confirming previous assumptions that the 2011 Grand Départ would take place in the central west coast of France, race director Christian Prudhomme announced on Tuesday that the first stage of the 2011 Grand Tour would start on the island of Noirmoutier, south of Nantes.

Stage one on Saturday, July 2, 2011, will see the riders depart from the island onto the mainland via the famous Passage du Gois, where a massive pile-up in 1999 made cycling history. The slippery road between the island and the mainland is flooded by the tides twice a day, and will provide for spectacular scenery for a Grand Départ.

The first stage will end on the Mont des Alouettes, at 232 metres of altitude.

Stage two will see the riders battle against the clock in a team timetrial of 23 kilometres set around the town of Les Essarts. Stage three will start in Olonne-sur-Mer.

The Vendée region is hosting the start of the race for the fourth time in 20 years after already receiving it in 1993, 1999 and 2005. The traditional teams' presentation will be staged in Puy-du-Fou, where the 1993 and 1999 prologues took place.


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