The 40th edition of the Tour du Limousin will start tomorrow in France, with all the French top teams in attendance as well as American outfit Slipstream.
The event, created in 1968, started out as an amateur event, but after seven years was opened to professionals as well. Bernard Hinault was one of the first famous winners, in 1976 and 1977. This is when its reputation started to take off. Subsequently other famous winners followed, including Marc Madiot (1981), Thierry Marie (1985), Charly Mottet (1987), Andrei Tchmil (1995), Laurent Brochard (1995) or Patrice Halgand (2000 et 2002). The race often sees a French winner, but last year it was the Colombian Léonardo Duque of Cofidis who took the honours.
This year, Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole) will try to win the mountainous event for a third time. But Cofidis is also sending a strong team, with Sylvain Chavanel and Stéphane Augé, who wore the polka dot in this year's Tour de France. French Champion Christophe Moreau will be there as well as John Gadret, who just won the Tour de l'Ain.
From the foreigners, Oscar Pereiro has to be considered one of the hot favourites for the title. The event always has big names at the start and even makes some ProTour events jealous.
The race starts in the Limousine's capital of Limoges on Tuesday and finishes in the same town on Friday, after having covered more than 700 kilometres.