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TOUR DE FRANCE

Tour de France: 2016 race to start in Normandy

After starts in Corsica, northern England and Utrecht, Holland, the famous Grand Depart of the Tour De France will return to mainland France in 2016, when Normandy will host the event.

Tour de France: 2016 race to start in Normandy
The UK's Bradley Wiggins during the 2012 Tour de France. Photo: AFP

The 2016 edition of the Tour de France will start in the Manche department in Normandy, organisers ASO said Monday.

It will be the first time the Tour, first raced in 1903, has started in that department, most famous for its hill-top island abbey Mont Saint-Michel.

Manche, named after the French term for the English Channel that separates the country from Britain, has played host to a Tour stage 23 times since 2011, most recently in 2013 when an individual time-trial ended at Mont Saint-Michel.

Mont Saint-Michel is a UNESCO world heritage site.

The exact town that will host the 'Grand Depart' will be revealed at a press conference on December 9.

The 2015 edition, where Italian Vincenzo Nibali will be defending his title, will begin in Utrecht in the Netherlands.

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SPORT

Inaugural Women’s Tour de France to start at Eiffel Tower

The route for the inaugural women's Tour de France was unveiled on Thursday with eight stages, embarking from the Eiffel Tower on July 24th next year.

French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race.
French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race. Photo: Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP.

The first complete edition of the women’s version of cycling’s iconic race starts on the day the 109th edition of the men’s Tour ends.

After a route that winds through northern France, the race culminates in the Planche des Belles Filles climb in the Vosges mountains.

Danish cyclist Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig said she was over the moon to be taking part.

“I want it to be July now so we can get stared,” she said actually jumping up and down.

“The Tour de France is a reference and when you say you are a cyclist people ask about that. Now I can say I race the Tour de France,” she said after the presentation.

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Race director Marion Rousse, a former French cycling champion and now a TV commentator, told AFP it would be a varied course that would maintain suspense over the eight days.

“It is coherent in a sporting sense, and we wanted to start from Paris,” she said of the 1,029km run.

“With only eight stages we couldn’t go down to the Alps or the Pyrenees, the transfers would be too long.

“The stages obviously are shorter for the women than for the men’s races. The men can go 225 kilometres. For the women the longest race on our roster is 175km and we even needed special dispensation for that,” she said. “But it’s a course I love.”

Christian Prudhomme, the president of the Tour de France organisers, was equally enthusiastic.

“The fact it sets off from Paris the day the men’s race ends gives the new race a boost because it sets the media up to follow it more easily.

“It also means that with the Tour de France starting on July 1st and the women’s race ending on the 31st, there will be cycling on television every day of July.”

The men’s race is broadcast in around 190 countries.

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