The Tour De France Grand Depart of 2018 is expected to run through two road stages in the Vendée region.
While it begins officially at the often submerged Passage du Gois road leading from the island of Noirmoutier-en-l’Île. This will then be closely followed by a 35km team trial on stage 3 around Cholet.
This will be the sixth time the Grand Depart has been hosted by the Vendee Region, coming in about seven years since after the Grand Depart of 2011 was held in the area.
Back in 1903, the first edition of the Tour de France went through the area during the key stage between Bordeaux and Nantes. Also in 1993, the Puy du Fou theme park hosted the Grand Départ with Miguel Indurain winning the 6.8km prologue time trial and also going on to win the race in Paris.
During stage two of the 1999 Tour de France, the riders went through the Passage du Gois where crashes and echelons splitting the peloton. At least three riders, Ivan Gotti (Polti), Alex Zulle (Banesto), and Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) lost more than six minutes.
The last Tour de France race held in the area started out from the Vendee six years past. Thomas Voeckler from local outfit Europcar, went on to complete an inspired Tour de France donning the race leader’s yellow jersey for ten days and finishing fourth overall in Paris. Voeckler plans to retire this year when after the Tour de France in July.
In stage one, riders are expected to cover 195km between Noirmoutier-En-L’Ïle and Fontenay-Le-Comte. A large part of the stage follows through the twisting Vendee coastline after the riders cross the Passage du Gois. Echelons and crosswinds might pose a problem to the contenders. The stage terminates close to the headquarters of the Direct Energie team.