Grand Départ 2018 : Vendée - Pays de la Loire
Director of the Tour de France
The spirit of the passage...
The Tour frequently witnesses all along its stages sublime sites. It passes by splendid buildings that give France its beauty and its character. It also has the privilege of stopping in places imbued by a magic touch that situates them in a class of their own. The Passage du Gois is precisely part of those fascinating places. Its esthetic aspect like no other comes from the tides going back and forth, orchestrating the disappearance and the revival of the path that links the Island of Noirmoutier to the continent. The atmosphere is tainted with a part of mystery: one could actually see it as a parable of the soul of Vendée. It is that energy that the Tour comes to draw in the “département”, and more widely in the region of the Pays de la Loire to launch the peloton for the 2018 edition.
Well before the Grands Départs were regularly staged in Vendée since the nineties, a strong relationship was established at the birth of the Tour. Indeed, in 1903, pioneers entered the “département” for the first time during the penultimate stage going from Bordeaux to Nantes. Rapidly, and on a regular basis, tremendous battles took place at Les Sables-d’Olonne between the greatest sprinters of the twenties, where the likes of Pélissier, Leducq or Frantz had already made of the city of the Vendée Globe sailing race, a land of exploits. The stay planned for 2018 will give the riders the opportunity to explore the roads of Pays de la Loire during close to four days, pushing the borders back to go and compete a team time-trial in Cholet and then conclude the sequence by a start from La Baule where the shared spirit of conquest and adventure is what nourishes the greatest champions…
President of the Conseil départemental of Vendée
Five “Grand Départ” of the Tour de France have already been staged on our territory! It’s an immense pride to welcome it again in 2018 for the sixth time. A unique record for a territory that is just as unique.
Navigating between earth and sea, the double heart of Vendée beats as one at the rhythm of great events. And the Tour de France, third largest sporting media event in the world, is one of them. It allows Vendée to travel beyond its frontiers as much as the Vendée Globe sailing race does so beyond the seas…
Proud of its identity and faithful to its roots, Vendée is a land of sporting excellence: the taste of effort and the audacity characterized by the people of Vendée are symbols shared by sports and especially cycling. Indeed, beyond the individual performance, fundamental for sporting achievements, it is collectively thanks to all those who ride their bike in Vendée that we can organise renowned events such as the Chrono des Nations or the Tour de Vendée. It is with great joy that our “département” will welcome the Grand Départ of the 2018 Tour de France!
President of the Conseil régional of Pays de la Loire
Devotion and commitment for the Tour de France
Once again, a Grand Départ of the Tour de France in the Pays de la Loire area!
For the tenth time of its history, la Grande Boucle will take off on the roads of the region. With all those who were ever present to obtain this Grand Départ, the region is delighted and proud to welcome in 2018 four stages of this legendary event with its international influence.
A Grand Départ that shows the dedication of the people of the Pays de la Loire for the Tour de France, but also a thorough involvement of all those who keep the culture of cycling well alive in the Pays de la Loire, from our great local riders all the way to the numerous amateurs and organisers of cycling competitions in our region. I wish to salute them and to warmly thank them because they are the leading players of such a wonderful sporting dynamic that the Pays de la Loire has managed to create around cycling on all the territories of our five “départements”.
With them and with the cycling enthusiasts of the Pays de la Loire, we will, in 2018, write a new page in the history of the Tour!
On the Atlantic ocean, between earth and sea, Vendée makes the best of the diversity of its landscapes. Symbol of quality of life, the “département” is a land of excellency. Economical excellency thanks to its numerous dynamic companies that show the richness and resources of the men and women who work in them. Sporting excellency with its great events starting with the Vendée Globe sailing race that shows the taste of effort and audacity characterized by the people of Vendée. Cycling excellency, especially in this territory known for its capacity to notice talents and train the next generation (Vendée U, Direct Energie team of Jean-René Bernaudeau). A nice example of the cycling values embodied by the entire “département”.
Like Vendée, the entire area of the Pays de la Loire offers a unique vision of what a dynamic region it is. Rich thanks to the diversity and vitality of its territories, proud of its economical successes and just as much so for its numerous cultural and natural legacies. The five “départements” build on their reach and on their roots, taking on the most audacious challenges by focusing on values for the future: the taste of effort, determination when tested, the sense of team spirit… Enough requirements that have allowed the inhabitants of the Pays de la Loire to lead the way in quite a few domains, notably in terms of sports. The region is indeed hosting events that are known across the World such as the Vendée Globe sailing race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, without of course forgetting this new Grand Départ of the Tour de France! A start that shows a will: to share a passion by making our region shine.
The roads of Vendée and the Pays de la Loire are among those that were on the course of the very first Tour de France back in 1903. A long history was set all along the years on this land of cycling.
1934, La Roche-sur-Yon. Antonin Magne on his way to his second victory on the Tour.
1957, Nantes. The French national team poses for posterity before the first Grand Départ given from the Pays de la Loire region.
1972, Cyrille Guimard, born in Bouguenais in Loire-Atlantique. He captured 7 stage wins on the Tour and claimed victory here in Royan after the start was given from Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez.
1975, Saint-Jean-de-Monts. Eddy Merckx then World Champion claimed victory here in a time-trial stage.
1979, Jean-René Bernaudeau, born in Saint-Maurice-le-Girard in Vendée. 5th of the general classification and White Jersey as best young rider.
2011, Thomas Voeckler. “Vendéen” by adoption and Yellow Jersey during ten days.
2016, Montreuil-Bellay. Passage of the peloton during the 4th stage that took off from Saumur.
2016, Angers. Mark Cavendish conquered the 28th of his 30 Tour stage victories.
Dates to remember
Wednesday 4th of July: opening of the race headquarters and the press center at the Vendéspace in Mouilleron-le-Captif (85)
GPS Coordinates: N 46°42’38.18’’ W 1°25’50.52’’
Thursday 5th of July: teams presentation of the 2018 Tour de France
Saturday 7th of July: stage 1, Noirmoutier-en-l’Île > Fontenay-le-Comte
Sunday 8th of July: stage 2, Mouilleron-Saint-Germain > La Roche-sur-Yon
Monday 9th of July: stage 3, Cholet > Cholet, team time-trial
Tuesday 10th of July: start of stage 4, La Baule > …
By plane: Nantes-Atlantique airport, 65 kms from Mouilleron-le-Captif, or la Roche-sur-Yon - Les Ajoncs civil aerodrome, 6 kms from Mouilleron-le-Captif.
By train: several daily trips by TGV, Paris > La Roche-sur-Yon, situated 10kms from Mouilleron-le-Captif. Time of journey: between 3h and 3h30 depending on trains.
By road: 430 kms from Paris by the A 10, A11 and then A87 motorways.
NOIRMOUTIER-EN-L’ÎLE > FONTENAY-LE-COMTE
The Passage du Gois is one of the rare road paths to be entirely covered by the sea at high tide… but that tide is nice enough to move away and welcome, from time to time, the riders of the Tour. In 2011, the start of the race had taken place on the passage and appeared to have inspired Belgian Philippe Gilbert on his way to his first and only stage win on the Tour. The 2018 edition will take that same direction for a first part of the stage by the sea, going through Saint-Jean-de-Monts and Les Sables-d’Olonne. But it’ll be when the pack heads inland to visit the “Marais Poitevin” that it’ll be the most exposed to wind. The sprinters teams will need to be extremely focused if they want the pack to remain bunched for a final explanation in Fontenay-le-Comte… where Jacky Durand had conquered glory during the 1994 French championships.
MOUILLERON-SAINT-GERMAIN > LA ROCHE-SUR-YON
Known as Mouilleron-en-Pareds before it merged in 2016 with Saint-Germain-l’Aiguiller, the common was the birthplace of men who are part of French history, such as Georges Clemenceau and the Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny. If they show as much temperament, the escapees of this second stage could well remain clear of the peloton that shouldn’t however be too concerned by the slight climbs to overcome during the day. A land of sprinting in the thirties, La Roche-sur-Yon was the scene of the triumph of one of the fastest men when the Tour finished in town for the last time in 1938. On a third of a stage, it was wearing the World Champion’s rainbow jersey that Belgian Éloi Meulenberg showed his outstanding speed on the Velodrome.
CHOLET > CHOLET
Elected by daily newspaper L’Équipe “Most sporting town in France” on three occasions (1972, 2007 and 2014), Cholet deserves to welcome an athletic and esthetic discipline of such high level. The course of the team time-trial with a start and finish in the city center indeed offers all the aspects so that the most well prepared teams, the most meticulous ones, make the best of the day. In a first part, there will be several changes in pace that will trouble the teams in their quest for fluidity and consistency. Eventually in the last quarter of the course, a tough 800m climb will certainly become a nightmare for squads that might not have a solid enough rooster, or that might have opted for a slightly too risky strategic bet!
LA BAULE > ...
For the first time ever, a Grand Départ of the Tour will be extended until the morning of the fourth stage. But then again, La Baule is also a specialist of innovations. In 1988, on the occasion of the last visit of the Tour to the seaside resort, riders had experienced the “Preface”, an extremely short time-trial combining the times clocked during both a team time-trial and an individual one! Italian Guido Bontempi had been the first to claim the yellow jersey. It was also during that weekend of the Grand Départ that the guests had enjoyed the very first start village of the Tour, set up just by the beach before it was swept away by the wind. Thirty years later, the peloton will leave La Baule through Guérande and then bid farewell to the Pays de la Loire region after going through the common of Derval…
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