Tour de France 2018 route: details of opening stages revealed

Organisers ASO confirm the 2018 edition of the Tour will begin in the Western region of France, with a team time trial on stage three.

(Image credit: Watson)

Organisers ASO have confirmed that the Tour de France 2018 route will begin in the western-central French region of Pays de la Loire, with an early team time trial on stage three.

The department of Vendée will be the section of the region that hosts the roll out of the 2018 Tour. The department has hosted the Grand Départ no less than five times out of the nine times the race has been in the region.

>>> Tour de France 2017 route revealed

As was the case when the Tour de France last started in the Vendée in 2011, the first stage will start in Noirmoutier-en-l'Île with the opening kilometres over the Passage du Gois, a causeway that is submerged at high tide.

The causeway was also used in the 1999 edition of the race when its slippery surface caused chaos with a number of contenders hitting the deck. However in 2011 the crossing was neutralised, and we would expect to see the same in 2018.

The opening stage on June 30 is 195km long with a finish in Fontenay-le-Comte. The flat finish to the stage should mean a bunch sprint, although with much of the stage consisting of a southward ride along the coast, crosswinds could well be a factor.

Watch: Tour de France 2017 essential guide

Stage two, 185km between Mouilleron Saint-Germain and La Roche-Sur-Yon, also features a flat finish and looks to be more straightforward than stage one.

However, as was the case when the Tour de France last started in the western region, the organisers have thrown in an early team time trial, which is 35km-long starting and finishing in Cholet.

In 2011 the gaps between the teams were narrow with only 10 seconds separating first and sixth (although the stage was 10km shorter).

There are also similarities between the individual time trial that started and finished in Cholet in 2008, with the 2018 race covering many of the same roads as the stage which was won by Stefan Schumacher, who later tested positive for EPO.

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The fourth stage will start in the coastal town of La Baule and head northwest towards Brittany, with the location of the stage finish to be revealed at a later date.

Reports from local press suggest that the race could take in some of the dirt roads used in the Tro-Bro Léon one-day race.

The German city of Düsseldorf kicks-off proceedings for the 2017 Tour de France, while Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy hosted it in 2016.

Two foreign starts preceded that with Utrecht in the Netherlands and Yorkshire in 2015 and 2014 respectively.

2018 Tour de France route

Stage one (Saturday, June 30): Noirmoutier-en-l'Île to Fontenay-le-Comte, 195km

Stage two (Sunday, July 1): Mouilleron-Saint-Germain to La Roche-Sur-Yon, 185km

Stage three (Monday, July 2): Cholet to Cholet, 35km (TTT)

Stage four (Tuesday, July 3): La Baule to ???

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