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Tour de France to start on Passage du Gois in 2018

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PARIS — Riders in the 2018 Tour de France will set off from the Passage du Gois, a causeway that Atlantic Ocean tides cover twice a day.

With this year’s race set to start in the German city of Dusseldorf, cycling’s biggest event will return home for its “Grand Depart” in 2018.

On Tuesday, Tour organizers unveiled the first three stages of the 2018 route, which will start in the western Pays de La Loire region on June 30.

Stage 1 will take the peloton on a 195-kilometer ride from Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile to Fontenay-le-Comte on the windy roads of Vendee, which will stage the Grand Depart for the sixth time.

Sprinters will have another chance to grab the yellow jersey the next day between Mouilleron-Saint-Germain and La Roche-sur-Yon, a town that will host its first stage finish since 1938.

Stage 3 will be a 35-kilometer team time trial in Cholet, and Stage 4 will start from the posh sea resort of La Baule, with the peloton heading north.

The remainder of the route is to be announced in October at the official race presentation.

The Passage du Gois featured in the 2011 race.

The Gois is a four-kilometer road flooded by tide twice a day, linking the island of Noirmoutier to the mainland, and has contributed to race lore. In 1999, a handful of Tour favorites had their victory hopes ended in a massive crash on the Gois, which was still wet and slippery.

Jungels wins Stage 15 of Giro; Dumoulin keeps pink jersey

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BERGAMO, Italy — Bob Jungels took a sprint ahead of several overall favorites to win the crash-filled 15th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday, while Tom Dumoulin had six seconds shaved off his overall lead in the final leg before the high mountains.

Jungels, of Luxembourg with the Quick Step team, surged past Nairo Quintana and Thibaut Pinot at the end of the 199-kilometer (124-mile) route from Valdengo to Bergamo, which contained two categorized climbs shortly before the finish and a shorter climb up cobblestones in Bergamo’s old city.

“It’s never easy to plan an attack like mine today in a stage like this,” Jungels said. “It was more of a classic than a Grand Tour stage. It’s what I needed to win a stage.”

Dumoulin’s lead was cut to 2:41 ahead of Quintana, with Pinot 3:21 back in third.

Not looking to take any unnecessary risks, Dumoulin rode more cautiously through the final kilometers and dropped slightly behind.

Quintana fell while negotiating a corner on a downhill stretch and had to change bikes.

Dumoulin ordered his teammates at the front to slow down and let Quintana catch up.

Tanel Kangert of Astana and Kenny Elissonde of Sky were involved in more serious crashes.

“I didn’t want to take time on Quintana when he crashed because it wasn’t the right way to do it,” Dumoulin said. “Sometimes the race goes on but this was a good moment to wait for him. My legs felt good today but I’m always looking forward to a rest day.”

Jungels wore the overall leader’s pink jersey for four days in the opening week and leads the best young rider classification. It was his first Grand Tour victory.

After the final rest day Monday, Stage 16 on Tuesday is considered the race’s toughest: a lengthy 222-kilometer (138-mile) leg from Rovetta to Bormio that features three strenuous climbs, including the legendary Mortirolo and Stelvio passes.

The 100th Giro concludes with an individual time trial in Milan next Sunday.

Huffman wins stage, Bennett overall at Tour of California

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PASADENA, Calif. (AP) Evan Huffman emerged from the breakaway for the second time this week to win the final stage of the Tour of California, and George Bennett finished safely in the chasing group to win the overall race.

Huffman and Rally Cycling teammate Rob Britton were the main agitators on the fourth stage to Santa Clarita, when they swept the top two spots on the podium. They were at it again Saturday as part of a five-man breakaway that survived to the finish in Pasadena.

Huffman was followed by David Lopez Garcia, Nicolas Edet, Lachlan Morton and Britton, while the chasing group that included all the overall contenders finished 22 seconds behind.

That allowed Bennett to hold off Rafal Majka and Andrew Talansky for the yellow jersey.