A guide to the Tour de France

Tour de France knitted mini-jerseys

Tour de France 2018 diary

Tour de France Blubberhouses

The Tour de France diary is a review of the coverage of the race as the 2018 edition unfolds.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 1

BBC BeSpoke comes under fire, the race gets under way, David Millar is on form on ITV4, Lawson Craddock falls over, and we learn Ned Boulting's full name.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 2

Dutch programme Avondetappe from a French chateau, Louis Leon Sanchez out, Dave vs David, and we learn Ned Boulting's full name.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 3

Thank goodness for Rob Hayles, Boardman makes a film about time trialling, and the first correct Hedgehog pick for stage winner.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 4

The Cycling Podcast's Frenchman lays into Movistar, Avondetappe look at Sunweb's TTT preparations, and more on Dave vs David.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 5

Looking back to PDM in Quimper, a case of mistaken identity, and a tiddlywinks contest.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 6

'Het is wat het is', Toms Skujins and potatoes, and an interview with Mr President.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 7

Bernard Hinault lapping up the freebies, Servais Knaven on Sky's preparations for the cobbles, and the Dutch reaction to Tom Dumoulin's Stage 6 time loss.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 8

One more chance for BBC BeSpoke, Dylan Groenewegen's success, and throwing salt over your shoulder.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 9

Rumbling rumours, too much action (and in particular, falling over) for Stuart O'Grady's liking, and Ned Boulting's full name.

Tour de France 2018 diary first rest day

TV motos helping decide races, Richard Moore impersonates Ed Reardon, and we find out Ned Boulting's full name as he rides cobbles on a folding bike.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 10

Conspiracy theories in la Course, Cecilie Uttrup speaks, and Alaphilippe rides à la Alaphilippe and is twitchy.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 11

Thomas is not twitchy, but wins despite this handicap, we find out Ned Boulting's full name, and the Avondetappe team get a bit drunk.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 12

Gary Imlach spoils a beautiful vista, Richard Moore makes a bid for a motivational speaking gig at Team Sky, and Nibali is knocked off.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 13

Everyone in the Netherlands is on the edge of their seat while Kruijswijk is on the edge of his saddle, Thomas feels punchy, and Christian Prudhomme doesn't help.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 14

It's a lot neater when there are two separate races, Roglic gains 8s (better than losing 8s), and the Hedgehog diary loses impetus.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 15

Jasper Stuyven makes a point about trying to climb hills when you weigh 80kg, Wiggins outlines the plot of a new Tintin adventure, and NOS's tech department spread a little misery.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 16

Strong rumours that Campanile is about to join the Cycling Podcast stable of advertisers, some strange descriptions from Ned B on ITV, and Degenkolb contributes to the 'super-happy' tally.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 17

Putting pressure on Bardet, it's great to be Colombian, and the spectators are a bit mean-spirited.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 18

Thomas looks red-eyed, Démare is super-happy, and we find out Ned Boulting's full name.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 19

The ITV team don't notice drafting in the slipstream of a motorbike, the Cycling Podcast go on about foie gras, and I quote Richard Moore as accurately as I can.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 20

Tom D looks truly happy, Froome shows grace under pressure, and ITV's Tour de France coverage switches to the main channel tomorrow for the lamest stage.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 21

A popular and worthy winner.

Tour de France 2018 diary: comments

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Stage 2, Tour de France 2018

Château de Tiffauges

Château de Tiffauges, by Jibi44, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Stage 2 of the Tour de France 2018 is 183km from Mouilleron-Saint-Germain to la Roche-sur-Yon. It's another stage for the sprinters.

Read about Stage 2 of the 2018 Tour de France.

Stage 1, Tour de France 2018: towns, sights and attractions

Stage 1, Tour de France 2018: Ile de Noirmoutier & Noirmoutier-en-l'Ile


Noirmoutier-en-l'Ile, by Aoudot25, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

The Ile de Noirmoutier is an island off the Atlantic coast of France. It is about 18km long, and between 500m and 12km wide.

The name Noirmoutier derives from the Latin in herio monasterio, meaning the monastery of Her (a part of the island). It was the monk Saint Philibert who came to the island in the year 674, and founded a monastery.

Noirmoutier is also known as the Island of Mimosas - the temperate climate allows the mimosa tree (acacia debealta) to flower year-round.

The landscape is made up of sand dunes, salt marshes separated by banks, and holm oaks. It was the monks who first set up the salt pans and organised the harvesting of salt.

Salt pans, Ile de Noirmoutier

Salt pans, Ile de Noirmoutier, by Patrick Despoix, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

The island has been connected to the mainland by bridge since 1971. The other link is by the Passage du Gois, which is a paved-over sandbank, 4.5km long, and flooded twice a day by the high tide.

The biggest part of the economy today is tourism. There's also fishing, and an offshore wind farm is being developed near the island, which is expected to be commissioned in 2021.


Noirmoutier-en-l'Ile, the town on the north east of the island, is the historic capital. The population is around 4,800 people, and it has a church and a C12th château. The fishing and pleasure port is part of the commune of Noirmoutier-en-l'Ile.

Stage 1, Tour de France 2018: les Sables-d'Olonne

Aerial view of les Sables-d'Olonne

Aerial view of les Sables-d'Olonne, by Florian Pépellin, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Les Sables-d'Olonne is a seaside resort in the Vendée, with a population of about 14,000.

It was founded in 1218, when the Olonne harbour was developed by Savary 1st of Mauléon. Its port has always been important,exporting local wine and salt. In the C17th, it became the largest cod-fishing port in France, with 100 boats.

Les Sables-d'Olonne

Les Sables-d'Olonne, by Andre Bianco, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The first bathing establishments here were created in 1825, and les Sables-d'Olonne began to attract aristocratic visitors.  There was a casino, les Bains de Mer. The railway line reached Sables-d'Olonne in 1866, and contributed to a wider popularity with tourists.

The Vendée Globe yacht race takes place every four years, and starts and finishes in les Sables-d'Olonne.

Les Sables-d'Olonne is twinned with Worthing (UK).

Stage 1, Tour de France 2018: Fontenay-le-Comte


Fontenay-le-Comte seen from the pont des Sardines, by Jmdigne, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Fontenay-le-Comte is a small town on the Vendée river, which used to be the capital (préfecture) of the Vendée, before it was moved to la Roche-sur-Yon by Napoléon in 1804.

The name Fontenay stems from 'fountain', and refers to the fontaine des Quatres Tias, rebuilt in 1542. 'Le Comte' is a nod to Alphonse de Poitiers, who received the Poitou area from his brother King Louis IX in 1242.

Fontaine des Quatre Tias

Fontaine des Quatre Tias, Fontenay-le-Comte, by Trebmuh, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

The Counts of Poitiers built a fortress here. During the Middle Ages, Fontenay thrived due to cloth and leather production, but it was occupied by the English for 11 years, during the Hundred Years War, and was badly damaged during the fighting.

Fontenay blossomed again during the Renaissance, but suffered at the time of the Wars of Religion (late 1500s and early 1600s).

During the French Revolution, when the revolutionaries wanted to wipe out all traces of the ancien régime, Fontenay became known as Fontenay-le-Peuple.

Fontenay was the 1996 winner of the prix national de l'art de vivre! I never knew there was such a thing. I'm imagining an inspection over two days, where the candidate town asks its citizens to read the paper insouciantly at pavement cafés, while drinking espresso accompanied by macarons, and the judges decide if they have done it with sufficient panache.

Frédéric Mazzella, the founder of Blablacar, is from Fontenay.

Noirmoutier-en-l'IleLes Sables-d'OlonneFontenay-le-Comte

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