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The ASO announced Monday the 2016 Tour de France will start in Normandy, at the foot of the Mont-Saint-Michel monastery.
The Tour will kick off July 2, 2016 and race for three days in France’s Manche department. The race last visited there in 2013, when a time trial finished at Mont-Saint-Michel.
“The Manche is a very beautiful department with breathtaking scenery. It offers varied terrain that will favor the sprinters at Utah Beach, and allow the punchers their chance to standout in the hills above Cherbourg-Octeville,” Tour director Christian Prudhomme said in a press release. “Let us not forget the Mont-Saint-Michel that will majestically enhance the very first pedal strokes of the riders of the peloton, three years after it was the backdrop for the 100th Tour de France.”
The 2016 Tour will begin with a 188-kilometer stage from Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach Sainte-Marie-du-Mont that should favor the sprinters. Stage 2 will cover 182km from Saint Lô to Cherbourg-Octeville and will feature a hilly finish with ramps as steep as 14 percent.
ASO did not reveal details of stage 3, other than that it will start in Granville.
“It was written that the history of cycling, the Tour de France and the Manche would one day converge. We are proud to offer cycling a sumptuous setting, to promise the Tour de France a warm and passionate welcome and to offer the Manche all the glory it deserves,” said Jean-François Le Grand, President of the Manche General Council. “The coming together of the three during the 2016 start will be magic.”
Mont-Saint-Michel juts about a kilometer into Mont-Saint-Michel Bay and is accessible via a raised bridge. It was first built in the eighth century and was expanded over the years to its current form.