On July 2, the 2016 Tour de France will launch from the foot of the iconic Mont Saint-Michel monastery in Normandy, in the Manche department, tour organizers announced Tuesday. It’s the first race to begin in western France since the 2011 Tour, which began in the Vendee region.
The three days of racing in the region will have riders pedaling through varied terrain.
The first stage is a 188-kilometer (116.8-mile) ride from Mont Saint-Michel to Utah Beach, one of the five points of the 1944 Allied invasion into France during World War II. The first leg is flat but could see harsh coastal winds.
The second stage is a 182-kilometer (113-mile) run from Saint-Lo to Cherbourg-Octeville. The stage’s finale involves a three-kilometer climb—part of which is graded at 14 percent—to the summit of the Cote de la Glacerie. The third leg begins in the coastal town of Granville and ends in an undisclosed destination. Organizers are expected to release more details on the route in October 2015.
Routes through the Manche have been included in 23 Tours.
“The Manche is a very beautiful department with breathtaking scenery,” Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme told LeTour, the race’s official website. “It offers varied terrain that will favor the sprinters at Utah Beach and allow the punchers their chances to stand out in the hills above Cherbourg-Octeville.”