- The race 2011
- All about the race
Aerial view of Lorient town centre© Yvan Zedda
• Stage town on 10 previous occasions
• 60, 000 inhabitants
• Sub-prefecture of Morbihan (56)
Lorient is a true nugget in southern Brittany! The main town in Brittany’s third biggest urban area with 200,000 inhabitants, Lorient manages to combine being very much a city of the future while staying faithful to its roots. Here, energy, adventure and modernity combine; Lorient has it all – quality of life, dynamism, a huge number of shops and public services. Above all, Lorient is a seaside town, and its economy relies on the sea, trade and tourism. Base for some of the world’s top sailors, in 2012 Lorient will host the French leg of the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race. Due to its geographical location, and thanks to its marina and easily accessible beaches, Lorient is the perfect sporting and cultural haven. Easily accessed by air or rail from anywhere in the world, each year it welcomes 700,000 music lovers to its Festival Interceltique. Lorient also boasts a large network of cycle paths, with plenty of opportunities to hire a bike, and was voted France’s sportiest city in 2010 by French sports newspaper L’Equipe.
Voted the most sporting town in France of the year, Lorient, has inspired adventurers bound for prestigious Transatlantic races for a long time. The Breton port has also contributed to the writing of the magnificent pages of the history of the Tour, during the eight stage finishes which have been held there, like in 1960, when a breakaway of four cyclists reached Lorient 14 minutes ahead of the peloton. The winner of the day, Roger Rivière, thus justified his position as the race’s favourite, which he then lost after a serious crash in the descent of the Col du Perjuret, giving the advantage to Gastone Nencini. In 2006, Sylvain Calzati won his only stage on the Tour in Lorient, on his own.
Mûr-de-Bretagne castle© Mairie Mûr-de-Bretagne
• Stage town for the first time
• 2, 200 inhabitants
• Cantonal subdivision of Côtes-d’Armor (22)
Right at the heart of Brittany, Mûr-de-Bretagne lies on the border between two departments – the Côtes d’Armor and Morbihan – and benefits from its privileged position between the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. Principal town of the canton, its name has always been historically linked to that of Guerlédan and its dam. Built in 1930, the Guerlédan dam was the forerunner for larger alpine structures. This huge basin of water, which swallowed houses, villages and forests in the Blavet valley when it was built, extends for 12 kilometres and covers an area of 400 hectares. Today, this natural site has become an essential destination for sports enthusiasts and fans of ’green’ tourism. The surroundings of this stunning area just beg to be explored: hidden pathways, churches and chapels, chateaux, old forges and slate quarries. Rich in heritage and history, Mûr-de-Bretagne knows how to perfectly combine tradition, modernity and respect for the environment. Already a part of the Tour de France’s history having featured on the route a number of times, the town’s long, straight climb from which the town gets its name – ’mur’ meaning wall – has even gained itself the nickname ’The Breton Alpe-d’Huez’.
Although the town has never hosted a Tour de France stage finish, it has already made an impact on the race’s history and has even been nicknamed “L’Alpe-d’Huez of Brittany”, due to its “wall”, a long slope in a straight line, which has often risen up on the cyclists’ route several times in the past. In 1947, for example, it was situated on the route of a time-trial which had the additional difficulty of being 139 km long! On that day, Jean Robic re-established himself as the pretender to the title before winning two days later in the final stage.