Tour de France organisers ASO have confirmed what has been an open secret for more than a year now by announcing that Corsica will host the Grand Départ of the 100th edition of the race in 2013. In doing so, the island will be hosting the Tour for the first time.
Details of the itinerary for the opening days of the 2013 Tour will be revealed at a press conference to be held in Ajaccio – the island’s capital and the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte – on December 6.
Corsica will become the final region in metropolitan France – in effect, what a foreigner would understand as France, the term excluding overseas departments such as Martinique and Réunion – that the race has visited.
Previously, the island was home to the Tour de Corse, whose first winner went, appropriately given the identity of the island’s most famous son, by the name Napoleon Paoli.
By the 1980s, riders of the stature of Stephen Roche and Bernard Hinault were adding their names to the list of winners, but by the end of that decade, the threat of terrorism from separatist groups saw the race disappear from the calendar.
Although there are still a couple of weeks to wait for the 2013 Grand Départ to be officially confirmed, according to details of the opening three days of the race published by the newspaper Corse-Matin, there will be a rare opportunity for Mark Cavendish to complete his set of Grand Tour leader jerseys.
While the Tour in recent years has tended to open with a Prologue – this year being a rare exception – the 2013 edition is reportedly scheduled to start with a flat, 146km stage along the eastern coast from Porto-Vecchio to Bastia, which should end with a sprint finish.
The following day’s 147km stage is said to run from Bastia to Ajaccio, and includes the Category 2 climb of the Col de Vizzavona.
The visit to the island apparently concludes with a 155km stage from Ajaccio to Calvi, this time following Corsica’s western coast with the route reportedly peppered by several climbs, with the rock formations of the Calanques de Piana providing a spectacular backdrop as the race goes by.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.