The grand départ
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The Tour de France ranks third among global athletics events after the Olympic Games and the World Football Cup.

In 2016, this iconic athletic event will celebrate its 103rd edition. It has survived the generations without aging. The Tour de France still draws as large a crowd, as much for its athletic performance as for the beauty of the traversed landscapes. This event will be broadcasted in 190 countries: 90 hours of live coverage for 2 billions TV spectators and radio listeners around the globe each year, accumulated across the whole Tour.

  The Manche department and the Tour de France: a joint history

Manche has hosted the Tour de France 46 times. But 2016 will be a first for the Département as it hosts the Tour Grand Départ!

Manche has hosted the Tour de France 46 times – 24 starts and 22 arrivals; the first time was in 1911.

position Cherbourg 17 starts 16 arrivals
position Avranches 3 starts 2 arrivals
position Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët 2 starts 1 arrival
position Granville 1 start 1 arrival
position Le Mont-Saint-Michel - 2 arrivals
position Saint-Martin de Landelle 1 start -

The Tour’s recent history in Manche has been remarkable mostly because of the two arrivals at the foot of Mont-Saint-Michel. In 1990, the Belgian cyclist Johan Museeuw was the first whose name was to be linked with the “Wonder of the West”. This is also where the German Tony Martin won the time trial – twenty-three years later and during the Tour de France Centennial Edition.

  Tour de France Background

Henri Desgrange and Géo Lefèvre were the instigators in 1903, of the most renowned cycling race in the world. Both were journalists with the Paris sports daily newspaper called L’Auto. At that time, the race pioneers gobbled up 2,500 kilometres of road. Sixty cyclists lined up in 1903 to tackle the first Tour de France.

Onlookers immediately became fans, both as admirers of the efforts deployed by the racers as well as of the showcasing of their cities and landscapes. The race gave birth to a new kind of heroes – they bore the names of Pottier, Petit-Breton and Pélissier. Later came Vietto, Magne, Leducq, Hinault and Merckx.

Globalisation then spurred the Tour de France into opening to other countries.
At present, “the Big Loop” covers over 3,000 kilometres and over 198 cyclists enter the race! It has now become the most prestigious cycling race in the world.

The slaves of the roads

A legend born in the Cotentin Peninsula, when the Pélissier Brothers met the well know journalist Albert Londres in the Café de la Gare at Coutances

Albert Londres, a committed reporter, became interested in the Tour de France by denouncing the ruthless physical demands imposed on cyclists at the time, in what he called the “Tour of agony”. He also denounced the rules that sometimes seemed surreal (The Road Convicts and Tour de France, Tour of agony”. He was the instigator of one of the most vivid legends on the Tour de France: the “Road Convicts” originated in the Café de la Gare at Coutances.

Discover the anecdote
  The grand départ in manche

After two years with a Grand Départ starting outside French borders, the next one is due to start within “the Hexagon” again. And for the first time in its history, the Tour de France will launch out from Manche in Normandy.

In 2016, the Grand Départ will be much more than the start of the race. It will kick off a full week of festivities:

  • On 26 June 2016 : L’Étape Grand Départ, the randosportive open to everyone will allow amateur cyclists to experience the atmosphere of the Tour de France, following the same route as the professionals.
  • From 27 June to 2 July 2016, Saint-Lô will become the Grand Départ’s strategic headquarters with a welcome desk located at the Horse Centre, for both the Main Media Centre and the duty Reception Centre.
  • On 30 June 2016, the ‘presentation of teams’ ceremony will be at Sainte Mère Eglise. This event will be open to the public and broadcasted live on television.


Christian Prudhomme and Jean-François Le Grand first talked about organising a Grand Départ out of Manche in 2010. In February 2011, Manche officially became a candidate, competing against cities like Lyon and Barcelona.
The good news arrived on 9 December 2014: the Grand Départ

for the 2016 Tour de France will be out of Manche! Starting from the foot of Mont-Saint-Michel, the peloton will be off for three days of racing in Manche. The itinerary will pass through coastal roads mostly. This international event will set off a whirlwind of festivities in all of the Manche local communities.

Discover also Cyclists from Normandy
Stage 1
Le Mont-Saint-Michel

Utah Beach
See the stage
Le Mont-Saint-Michel > Utah Beach
Stage 2

See the stage
Saint-Lô > Cherbourg-en-Cotentin
Stage 3

See the stage
Granville > Angers