Saturday, 2 July 2011

#TDF The Grand Depart: All at sea

Passage du Gois
The Vendée Department of France is quite rightly proud to be hosting the start of this year's Tour de France as the above promo film shows. However, they have decided to start the Tour out at sea on the Passage du Gois. It is a causeway linking the island of Noirmoutier to the mainland. Which is only above water for fours hours at a time.

As a result it is not being used as part of a prologue time trail but as part of a normal stage. Any one of the riders could pull on the first yellow jersey of this year's tour as a result.

The last time the Tour visited the Passage du Gois was in 1999 when there was a spectacular crash as the riders rode off the Island having taken the Bridge over in the first place. The result was a six minute gap in the peleton, Alex Zülle who would finish second in that year's tour ended up at the wrong side of the split, but the almost ever conscious Lance Armstrong was near the front and avoided all the trouble. I little bit of coastal road ended up being the deciding factor in the Tour that year more so than any of the Mountain passes.

This year however the Passage du Gois will not have any such affect on the final outcome as it is in the netralised zone at the start of the first stage.

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