Mont Saint-Michel is an iconic location of the Normandy (north west part of France) and also an iconic spot of few stages of the Tour de France, the most important cycling competitive racing event.
Mont Saint Michel is an incredible spot and it has all the features to be magical.
- It is an island, tidal island for the experts, because it is connected to mainland through a road only exposed when there is low tide.
- A small and cute village spread through the small land
- At the top a astonishing abbey
- Everything enhanced with great lightning at night and amazing views of the sea.
Mont Saint-Michel. Unesco world heritage site and history of the Tour de France
Mont Saint-Michel is not only a Unesco World Heritage site it has also been a start and end of stage during the history of the Tour de France, the major pro cycling event. It has been the start line of one stage. Not a standard start, the Tour de France 2016 started in the abbey-topped island of Mont Saint-Michel.
The first stage of the 103rd edition of the Tour de France took the peloton from the picturesque resort of the Normandy to Utah Beach, accounting for the first 188 km of 2016 Tour de France.
Mont Saint-Michel has been also the finish line of the Tour de France. In 1990 the 4th stage started in Nantes and after 203 km (126.1 miles) finished at the Mont Saint-Michel, the picturesque island of the Normandy.
Not only a regular stage have ended at the Mont Saint-Michel; the 11th stage of 2013 Tour de France was an individual time trial of 33 km (21 miles) between Avranches and the Mont Saint-Michel.
Stages of the Tour de France with start or end in Mont Saint Michel
Stage 1, Tour de France 2016 (2nd July 2016) – Mont Saint-Michel to Utah Beach
- Distance of the Stage: 188 km (117 miles)
- Winner of the Stage: Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) team Dimension Data
- Yellow Jersey after the Stage: Mark Cavendish
- Stage Type: Flat Stage
The stage had a lot of historical significance because the beginning was at a Unesco World Heritage site and the peloton was riding to the finish line in Utah Beach, one of the beaches of the five landing areas of the Normandy Invasion of World War II during the D-day.
Moreover, being the first stage of Tour de France, one of the most popular events in the world of sport and the first day of the three week race makes the stage of 2016 a remarkable stage with Mont Saint-Michel as starting line.
Stage 11, Tour de France 2013 (10th July 2013) – Avranches to Mont Saint-Michel
- Distance of the Stage: 33 km (21 miles)
- Winner of the Stage: Tony Martin (Germany) team QuickStep
- Yellow Jersey after the Stage: Chris Froome (Great Britain) team Sky
- Stage Type: Individual Time Trial
Tony Martin, two-time world time trial champion did not disappoint over the 20.5-mile route in Normandy from Avranches to the medieval walled city of Mont-Saint-Michel.
The head of the Tour de France after the time trial was for the final winner of the Tour de France, Chris Froome, as he ended second the stage and increase his advantage against General Classification competitors.
Stage 4, Tour de France 1990 (4th July 1990) – Nantes to Mont Saint-Michel
- Distance of the Stage: 203 km (126.1 miles)
- Winner of the Stage: Johan Museeuw (Belgium) team Lotto-Superclub
- Yellow Jersey after the Stage: Steve Bauer (Canada) team 7 Eleven – Hoonved
- Stage Type: Flat Stage
Tour de France 1990 was the first edition of the Tour de France with a stage finishing at the Mont Saint-Michel (Normandy). The stage was a flat course, slightly above 200 kilometers ride, that started in Nantes (Brittany) headed to the Mont Saint-Michel.
The start had several attacks of riders trying to achieve a breakthrough however the sprinter teams did everything possible to avoid it and at the end one of the strongest sprinters that year Johan Museeuw achieve the first victory of the 1990 edition of the Tour de France, in front of Guido Bontempi and in third place Olaf Ludwig, the favorite for winning that day.
Johan Museeuw achieved two relevant victories at the Tour de France that year. First one as mentioned in Mont Saint-Michel and the second victory was the last stage of the Tour de France in the “Champs-Élysées” in Paris.
The head of the Tour de France after the fourth stage was Steve Bauer, Canadian rider irrelevant on the General Classification, as he ended up in position 27 at the end of the Tour de France.
Will Mont Saint-Michel become part of the history of Tour de France?
Considering that the first edition of the Tour de France finishing in this magic village of the Normandy was 1990 we can not consider Mont St. Michel one of the historic spots of “Le Tour de France”.
Historical riders like Eddy Merckx or french cyclists like Jacques Anquetil or Bernard Hinault have never ride across the Mont Saint-Michel in the Tour de France.
Also is worth mentioning that Mont Saint-Michel will not be decisive for the mountains classification and probably neither important on the Yellow Jersey battles.
Mont Saint-Michel has magic and if in the future becomes a frequent start or end of Tour de France stages it will end up being a traditional and magic Tour de France hotspot.
However it has a tough battle to become legendary like the “Champs-Élysées” in Paris or mythical mountains and climbs like Alpe d’Huez or Tourmalet.
Photos by Tim Rebkavets , Mathis Jrdl, Fab Lentz, Xavier Senente on Unsplash