- The race 2011
- All about the race
Pôle d’Excellence sports complex© Gilles Moussé / Le Mans
• Stage town on 7 previous occasions
• 150, 000 inhabitants
• Prefecture of Sarthe (72)
The Le Mans 24 Hour motor race attracts 200,000 spectators to its circuit each year, and has made the town of Le Mans famous the world over. But sport in general in Le Mans and the Sarthe department attracts more than 100,000 practitioners of all abilities, with access to 1,700 sporting clubs. This is reflected by the huge sports complex, the Pôle d’Excellence, which brings together a motor circuit, a karting circuit, a racecourse, an equestrian centre, a velodrome and the MMArena – the new home for the Le Mans FC football team. Opened at the beginning of this year, the stadium doubles as both a sports arena and a venue for live musical and theatrical events. Just 15 minutes away by tram from the TGV train station, it’s accessible from Paris in an hour. In addition, both Le Mans and the Sarthes general council remain extremely active when it comes to cultural events, hosting the Festival de l’Epau, devoted to classical music, as well as La Nuit des Chimères – a summer-long laser light show – in Plantagenêt, the old town area of Le Mans.
Thanks to the rich history of the 24 Hours, one of the monuments of motor sports, the prefecture of Sarthe is renowned throughout the world. It is also the birthplace of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and of … Jimmy Engoulvent. Firstly, when he was a small boy, the French cyclist was present when Laurent Fignon won the individual time-trial at the beginning of the 1984 Tour. Engoulvent also saw the peloton pass in front of his family home in July 1988, where Jean-Paul Van Poppel outsprinted the daily breakaway, much to its despair, as well as that of Jérôme Simon and his young supporter from Le Mans.
The Château Raoul – property of the Indre general council© Ville de Châteauroux
• Stage town on 2 previous occasions
• 49, 000 inhabitants
• Prefecture of Indre (36)
The ’Château Raoul’ is the name of the town’s fifth century château, which belonged to Lord Raoul Le Large, and from whom Châteauroux got its name. The town is also the birthplace of celebrated French actor Gérard Depardieu. Châteauroux is a sporting town that boasts 12,000 practitioners across around 50 different sports, with 35 kilometres of bike paths and 193 secure bike parks in which to lock up your pride and joy. Among the town’s main sports clubs are the Berrichonne football team, the 2004 French Cup finalists, the elite level Castelroussin 36 triathlon club and the Rugby Athlétique Club Castelroussin, who ply their trade in the second division.
Situated two hours from Paris, Châteauroux is well known for its metallurgy and farm-produce industries, but also for its expertise in aeronautics, electronics and information technology, ensuring development in the high-tech sectors. The future combines the new HEI school of engineering and an 850-hectare international business park built adhering to the ’High Quality Environment standard’ principles of sustainable development.
The only two stage finishes that took place in Châteauroux were ten years apart, with the victory of two exceptional sprinters, who together have notched up a total of 27 stages wins. Indeed, in1998 Mario Cipollini was the winner in the prefecture town of Indre. Then in 2008, Mark Cavendish experienced his first stage win on the Tour in Châteauroux. Since then the town has continued to host the Châteauroux-Classic de l’Indre, where Jimmy Casper and Anthony Ravard were successful during the last two editions.