The Tour de France Grand Depart will return to French soil in 2016, after organisers confirmed the 103rd edition of cycling’s greatest race will roll out of the French department of Manche.
Following this year’s Yorkshire Grand Depart and next year’s start in the Netherlands (the full route for the 2015 race was announced last month), Lower Normandy will welcome the peloton for Manche’s first ever Grand Depart.
Despite hosting the Tour on 23 occasions since 1911 – the latest of which saw Tony Martin narrowly beat yellow jersey Chris Froome to time trial success in Mont-Saint-Michel in 2013 – Manche has never hosted the opening stage.
The start city is still to be confirmed, with the ASO poised to make further announcements at a press conference in Mont-Saint-Michel on December 9.
The press conference will also see details released on the other stages to be held in the area for the 2016 race.
The 2015 Grand Depart in Utrecht, the Netherlands, marks a return to an opening stage time trial after road stages in Corsica in 2013 and Yorkshire this year saw German sprinter Marcel Kittel pull on the yellow jersey on both occassions.
It remains to be seen, however, if the sprinters will get the opportunity to compete for the first maillot jaune again in 2016.