Friday, 25 November 2011

Tour 2013 Corsican Grand Depart

Tour de France organisers have announced that Corsica will host the grand départ of the 2013 race.

The 100th edition of the three-week stage race will start on the Mediterranean island as the Tour visits the Ajaccio region for the first time since its inception in 1903.

Race director Christian Prudhomme described their decision as "a real challenge", while adding that further details would be released during an official presentation in Ajaccio on December 6.

Every region of France has hosted a stage of the world's biggest bike race previously while many countries other than the host nation have staged the prestigious grand départ. However, Prudhomme's predecessor Jean-Marie Leblanc claimed that the island would struggle to accommodate the race.

The argument lead to François Alfonsi of the Party of the Corsican Nation claiming in 2004 that: "the organisers must be afraid of terrorist attacks. If they are really thinking of a possible terrorist action, they are wrong. Our movement, which is nationalist and in favour of self-government would be delighted if the Tour came to Corsica."

Following the demise of the Tour of Corsica the island had not hosted any elite cycling races until 2010 after the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), who also organise the Tour, handed them the rights to host the Critérium International for three years.

Despite organisers holding back details until Dec 6, Corsican daily newspaper Corse Matin have reported that the island will host the opening three stages of the race and will not feature a prologue.