2018 Tour de France to start on the Passage du Gois

FILE - In this July 2, 2011 file photo, the pack passes the Passage du Gois, a causeway submerged by the tide twice a day joining Noirmoutier island and the mainland, rear, during the first stage of the Tour de France. Tour organizers unveiled Wednesday Feb. 28, 2017 the route for the three first stages of next year's edition of the race, which will start in the western Pays de La Loire region on June 30, 2018. Riders competing at the 2018 Tour de France will set off from the Passage du Gois. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

PARIS — Riders in the 2018 Tour de France will set off from the Passage du Gois, a causeway that Atlantic Ocean tides cover twice a day.

With this year's race set to start in the German city of Dusseldorf, cycling's biggest event will return home for its "Grand Depart" in 2018.

On Tuesday, Tour organizers unveiled the first three stages of the 2018 route, which will start in the western Pays de La Loire region on June 30.

Stage 1 will take the peloton on a 195-kilometer ride from Noirmoutier-en-l'Ile to Fontenay-le-Comte on the windy roads of Vendee, which will stage the Grand Depart for the sixth time.

Sprinters will have another chance to grab the yellow jersey the next day between Mouilleron-Saint-Germain and La Roche-sur-Yon, a town that will host its first stage finish since 1938.

Stage 3 will be a 35-kilometer team time trial in Cholet, and Stage 4 will start from the posh sea resort of La Baule, with the peloton heading north.

The remainder of the route is to be announced in October at the official race presentation.

The Passage du Gois featured in the 2011 race.

The Gois is a four-kilometer road flooded by tide twice a day, linking the island of Noirmoutier to the mainland, and has contributed to race lore. In 1999, a handful of Tour favorites had their victory hopes ended in a massive crash on the Gois, which was still wet and slippery.

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