Binche is part of the UNESCO World heritage not because of its medieval battlements, but thanks to its carnival where on Mardi Gras, the Gilles, clown-like performers, gather together as a reminder of when the Spanish held sway over the area in the 14th century. Cycling fans prefer to go there in the autumn to watch the Binche-Chimay-Binche semi-classic, born in 1911 and won by Arnaud Démare in 2014.
The only previous stage finish of the Tour in Épernay was the opener of the 50th edition, back in 1963. That first day of racing was marked by the crash of defending champion Jacques Anquetil and a productive move by Federico Bahamontes. Part of a breakaway group from which Eddy Pauwels won the stage, Bahamontes gained 1′30″ over his main rivals. The last two times that a stage started from the prestigious Avenue of Champagne saw Peter Sagan emerge victorious, first in Metz in 2012 and then in Nancy in 2014.