A guide to the Tour de France
Stage 2 of the Tour de France 2018 is 182.5km from Mouilleron-Saint-Germain to la Roche-sur-Yon. This is an anti-clockwise route through the countryside of the Vendée (le bocage vendéen), via Pouzauges, Saint-Michel-Mont-Mercure, les Herbiers, Tiffauges, Montaigu, les Lucs-sur-Boulogne, and Aizenay, to its capital (préfecture), la Roche-sur-Yon. The sprinters will be expecting to contest the win. Read about Stage 2 of the Tour de France 2018 here.
These are the highlights from Stage 2, on a day when Peter Sagan (Bora Hansgrohe) picked up his first win of the 2018 Tour:
Read the Hedgehog Stage 2 diary.
|Climbs||Côte de Pouzauges (Category 4)|
This is the official map of Stage 2.
The official Tour de France stage profile for Stage 2 (to follow):
Profile of Stage 2, Tour de France 2018, © ASO/Tour de France
Stage 2 takes place on Sunday 8th July 2018.
The publicity caravan sets off at 1110, and the peloton at 1310. The estimated average speeds are 41, 43, and 45kmh. Depending on which is most accurate, the riders will reach the finish line at la Roche-sur-Yon between 1723 and 1747.
Mark Cavendish looks forward to the Tour de France for the BBC, and names his 'one to watch' - his prediction for the stage win.
'We reconned stage two, which basically a big circle around the Vendée region. It's quite open at times in the countryside but, as on stage one, the weather should be good, so I don't know if crosswinds will play a factor.
Teams will be stressed again, because it's just the second day, and guys who missed out on stage one will be looking to make amends. We have looked at the final - it's a tricky run-in after a big, long, straight road for about 15km.
You come into a town and there are lots of lefts and rights and ups and downs. It's a fast, narrow run-in and with a couple of kilometres to go there is a 100 degree corner at a roundabout, and then the road shoots up at a 3% gradient for the last kilometre, so it's not going to be an easy bunch sprint.
If you're too far back in the last corner, you're going to find it hard to come back up. It's going to be lined out in the last kilometre, and won't be a pure bunch sprint.'
His one to watch? Arnaud Démare. A sprinter who can grind a big gear up a slight rise is going to win.
The stage starts in Mouilleron-Saint-Germain, the home town of World War I Prime Minister Georges Clémenceau. The riders set off from outside the Post Office on rue du Pavé (départ fictif). Let's hope none of them are in the queue for a stamp when it's time to start. The racing starts just short of Cheffois (départ réel).
Leaving Mouilleron, Stage 2 goes east to la Châtaigneraie. (La Châtaigneraie means chestnut wood, but the village gets its name from the first lords here, the Chasteigner family.) The riders then head north via Saint-Pierre-du-Chemin to Réaumur (known for the Réaumur temperature scale - 0 to 80 degrees for the freezing and boiling points of water - invented by René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur).
Next on the route is Pouzauges. On the entry to Pouzauges is the only categorised climb on the stage, the Côte de Pouzauges: 1km at 3.9%, reaching a height of 202m at the top.
Here, the Tour de France is in the bocage vendéen.
From Pouzauges, the race heads north to Saint-Michel-Mont-Mercure, the highest point of the Vendée (290m). The church tower is another 52m up. There's a golden statue of Saint Michael on top, which is an exact replica of the one at Notre-Dame de la Fourvière in Lyon.
Church at Saint-Michel-Mont-Mercure, by Jimmy44, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0
A few kilometres later, Stage 2 reaches les Herbiers, then it continues north north west via la Gaubretière (known for the Massacre of la Gaubretière in February 1794 during the War of the Vendée, in the Revolutionary period) to Tiffauges.
From Tiffauges, the route is west to Treize-Septiers. (A septier is a measure of grain, a quantity of about 159 litres, and a septier of land would be the surface area required to produce a septier of grain). It continues west to Montaigu.
From Montaigu, Stage 2 heads south west via Saint-André-Treize-Voies (motto - 'Saint-André-Treize-Voies, j'y crois') and Mormaision (on the Guerivière, possibly meaning 'hardly a river') to les Lucs-sur-Boulogne. (The name Lucs comes from the Gallo-Roman period, and derives from lucus meaning 'sacred wood'. There was an altar here, used by Celtic Druids. During the War of the Vendée, the local people were massacred by Republican colonnes infernales on 28th February 1794).
Next, the riders go through Beaufou (which has a thriving table tennis club) then Palluau (where the Collège Saint-Paul is known for athletics).
Now the route goes south via la Chapel-Palluau to Aizenay.
Stage 2 continues south to Beaulieu-sous-la-Roche (Village of Art, and location of a Christmas Market). The intermediate sprint is just before Beaulieu-sou-la-Roche. Then it's on via Saint-Georges-de-Pointindoux, and Sainte-Flaive-des-Loups, to Nieul-le-Dolent, and on east to Aubigny.
Beyond Aubigny is Nesmy, with its park and château, then Chaillé-sous-les-Ormeaux, and Saint-Florent-des-Bois. At Saint-Florent-des-Bois, there's a left turn onto the D746. That road takes the race to the bonus point (time bonuses of 3, 2, and 1 seconds for the first three riders across the line), and on towards la Roche-sur-Yon and the finish.
The finish is at la Roche-sur-Yon. The riders arrive on the D746, which is straight, and heads north west. It's possible that the approach to the finish will be into a head wind, which would favour the bunch over a breakaway rider.
According to la Roche-sur-Yon's Tour de France website, the finish in the town will take in boulevard des Etats-Unis, boulevard d'Italie, boulevard des Belges, rue Abbé Pierre-Arnaud, rue d'Arcole, rue Emile Romanet, and rue Louis-Loucheur. The finish line will be on boulevard d'Eylau, where rue Berlioz and rue d'Ulm meet it.
In the 2017 Tour de France, the peloton
kept a tight rein on any breakaways, and the flat stages always came
down to a bunch sprint. That's likely to continue, and so the question
is, who will be fastest? Fernando Gaviria is an up-and-coming sprinter,
and this could be an opportunity for the Colombian from Quick-Step
Stage 3 of the Tour de France 2018 is a 35-km team time trial starting and finishing in Cholet.
Read about Stage 3 of the 2018 Tour de France.
Mouilleron-Saint-Germain is the result of a fusion (from 1st January 2016) of two communes, called Mouilleron-en-Pareds and Saint-Germain-l'Aiguiller. The main town is Mouilleron-en-Pareds.
The Tour is visiting Mouilleron-Saint-Germain to honour the memory of Georges Clémenceau (1841-1929), who was born and is buried here. Clémenceau was Prime Minister from 1906-09 and 1917-20. He was known as Père la Victoire, and le tigre, and he advocated a hard positon against defeated Germany at the end of World War I, and large reparation payments. There's a museum dedicated to Clémenceau and another famous son of Mouilleron, Jean de Lattre de Tassigny (a French General in North Africa, and involved in the invasion of the south of France in August 1944, during World War II).
Other than the museum, the main point of interest is a hill with two 'relatively well conserved' windmills. They would be even better if they still had their sails.
Bocage is the name for a type of countryside with fields surrounded by hedges. The most famous is the bocage of Normandie, which the Allies had to fight their way through after the Normandy landings - the war of the hedgerows.
The Haut Bocage around les Herbiers and Pouzauges is founded on granite, and features hills and valleys.
A music video by the yoof of Saint Pierre du Chemain:
Pouzauges is a village in the bocage vendéen. The name probably means 'well dug to reach an underground water source'.
There are several hills within the commune, including the puy Crapaud (269m).
On Christmas eve 1793, during the Revolution, 400 people were massacred at the church during Midnight Mass, by the Revolutionary Army.
The company Fleury Michon - an agriculture and food business - has its head office in Pouzauges.
The ruined château de Pouzauges is one of its main attractions.
Les Herbiers is a town of about 15,000 people. It's the capital of the Haut-Bocage vendéen, and the Grande Maine river runs through it. It's at the foot of the Mont des Alouettes.
The name of the town comes from a person of Germanic origin, Herbertus.
The economy here is burgeoning, with activities including construction of pleasure boats and aluminium windows, and design of fashionable clothes for children.
Third-division football team Les Herbiers reached the 2018 French Cup final by beating Chambly 2-0.
The French international basketball player Florence Lepron learned to play at les Herbiers.
Les Herbiers is twinned with Newtown, Wales.
Tiffauges is a town at the confluence of two rivers - the Crûme and the Sèvre nantaise. Its name comes from a Barbarian people, the Taïfales, who established themselves here towards the end of the Roman Empire, from around 412AD.
The château was built in the C12th by the Viscounts of Thouars, but burned in 1569, then dismantled by royal order in 1626.
One of the businesses based in Tiffauges is Lussault, a maker of large clocks for churches and other public buildings.
Montaigu is a town of 5,149 people on the river Maine (not the same river Maine which gives its name to the Maine-et-Loire).
The name Montaigu comes from the Latin Mons Acutus, a sharp hill, and the town and the name date from the C4th, in the Gallo-Roman period.
Montaigu hosts a world football tournament for 14 and 15 year olds, le Mondial Minimes de Football. The last time the Tour de France came to Montaigu was in 1999.
Aizenay is a town in the bocage vendéen. The name comes from the name of a Gallo-Roman person, Asin.
The traditional industries here are textiles, shoes, and forestry. Today, the economy includes plastics, microwave ovens, and printing.
The Saint-Benoît church was built from 1904-5. There's a local goat's cheese which is very tasty.
La Roche-sur-Yon is the capital (préfecture) of the Vendée, with a population of around 53,000 people. It's on the river Yon at its confluence with the Riaillée and the Ornay.
The HQ of the Grand Départ 2018 in the Vendée will be at la Roche-sur-Yon - it's where the team presentation will take place on Thursday 5th July, and where the race organisers will be based. There's also to be a Fan Park in the town centre from 5th to 8th July.
It was Napoléon Bonaparte who transformed la Roche-sur-Yon from a hamlet, with a decree of 25th May 1804 which made it the capital of the Vendée. It was in a strategic position in the centre of a département which needed to be pacified after the War of the Vendée. The town was built on a regular pattern of streets, in a (slightly asymetrical) pentagon shape, around the central place Napoléon.
The town has changed name eight times altogether - for example, it was called Napoléon under Bonaparte's Empire, and Bourbon-Vendée during the Restoration.
There are higher education institutions in la Roche-sur-Yon, including a branch of the University of Nantes; around 6,000 students attend colleges here.
Industries in la Roche-sur-Yon include electrics and electronics, manufacture of Michelin tyres, banking and commercial services, and fish, fruit, and vegetable markets.
The Eglise Saint-Louis (1817-29) is the biggest church in the Vendée.
Amongst the towns twinned with la Roche-sur-Yon is Gummersbach (Germany) and Coleraine (Northern Ireland).
Thomas Voeckler did some of his studies at la Roche-sur-Yon.
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