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.
GENT, Belgium (AP) Olympic road champion Greg Van Avermaet won his second race in three days Sunday, beating fellow Belgian Jens Keukeleire in a two-man sprint finish to take the Gent-Wevelgem classic.
World champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia, who won last year’s race, finished third.
The 249-kilometer (154.7-mile) race through Belgium included two ascents of the steep, cobbled Kemmelberg hill, one of the iconic climbs of the spring classics season.
Last year’s race was overshadowed by the death of Belgian rider Antoine Demoitie after a fall.
Sagan fell Friday in the E3 Harelbeke, which Van Avermaet also won to add to his victory last month in Het Nieuwsblad.
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Alejandro Valverde of Spain won his second Tour of Catalonia on Sunday.
Valverde secured the victory by finishing first in the 139-kilometer (86-mile) seventh stage, perfectly timing his final sprint at a hilltop overlooking Barcelona.
He finished the weeklong race more than one minute ahead of Alberto Contador and Marc Soler, who closed out the all-Spanish podium.
Valverde won despite receiving a one-minute time penalty Wednesday after race officials ruled that some Movistar riders pushed one another in Tuesday’s team time trial.
The 36-year-old Valverde had won two other stages.
Valverde also won the race in northeastern Spain in 2009, the same year he clinched the Spanish Vuelta for his only Grand Tour title.
Three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome fell out of contention during Saturday’s stage.