It isn’t for the ramparts of its medieval city that Binche is part of the UNESCO World heritage… but thanks to its carnaval where on Mardi Gras, the “Gilles”, clown-like performers gather together reminding the Spanish influence in the area during the 14th century. The cycling fanatics will rather go there during autumn to watch the Binche-Chimay-Binche semi-classic, born in 1911 and won in 2016 by Arnaud Démare.
Only one stage finish of the Tour was held in Epernay for the start of the 50th edition back in 1963. That first race day was marked by the crash of title holder Jacques Anquetil and a decisive move from Federico Bahamontes. Part of a breakaway group that saw Eddy Pauwels win the stage, Bahamontes would enjoy a gap of 1’30” over his main rivals. On the occasion of the last two stage starts from the prestigious avenue of Champagne, Peter Sagan won each time, in 2012 in Metz and 2014 in Nancy.
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