Mont Saint-Michel is one of the main tourist-attractions in Normandy. Annually about three million visitors go see the rock island just off the coast, crowned by an imposing Benedictine Abbey. About 1,300 years ago the Abbey was built on a cliff overlooking the sea, while the other side was covered in forests. But a tidal wave swept out trees and earth, and the rock island became accessible only at low tide.
In 1879 a causeway was built, connecting the island to the mainland. In December 2014 the old connection was replaced by a pedestrian bridge, so the first 760 metres of the 2016 Tour de France will be on a route that is actually intended for hikers. The stage leads through the rolling Normandy landscape to Utah Beach. This was during D-Day 1944 the westernmost landing of the Allies. Utah Beach is 6 kilometres from the village of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont.
Two hills come with a KOM category, namely Côte d’Avranches – crested after 20.5 kilometres – and Côte des falaises de Champeaux, which is crested after 39 kilometres. Both are 4th category.
In the 2013 Tour de France, Tony Martin won the ITT leading from Avranches to Mont Saint-Michel. Chris Froome finished second thus cementing his GC lead, ultimately bringing him the yellow jersey in Paris. It was his first overall victory in the Tour de France.
Weather gods are not very welcoming in Normandy. The weather forecast talks about westerly winds at 40 to 50 kilometres per hour echelons, so echelons could ruin a sprinter’s party.
The first three riders on the line take time bonuses at 10, 6 and 4 seconds.
Race results/report 1st stage, 2016 Tour de France.
Tour de France 2016 stage 1: Route maps, height profiles, etc.
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