Thursday 24 November 2011

Tour will start in Corsica for 2013

Corsica, the most mountainous island in the
Mediterranean, promises a spectacular opening
stage in the 2013 Tour
For the first time in what will then be the 110 year history of the race, the Tour de France is due to visit Corsica, starting off from the Mediterranean island in 2013.

Corsica has long wanted to host a stage and Tour organisers are known to have looked into taking the event there on several occasions. However, the logistics involved in transporting riders, 4,000 officials, 1,600 vehicles and infrastructure to and from the mountainous island, which lies some 143km from the French coast at the narrowest point, has previously made doing so impossible. The island's relatively low level of economic development - the lowest in France - has not helped either.

The announcement was made by Paul Giacobbi, Corsica's representative at the National Assembly of France, and Tour director Christian Prudhomme and reported by the French Cycling Federation. Further details will be given during an official presentation on the 6th of December. Corsican newspaper Corse Matin says that three stages will be held on the island, promising a spectacular start to what will be the 100th Tour.

Prudhomme confirmed the rumours, stating that "In general, we announce [each Tour's starting point] a year and a half before the deadline. But for the 2013 Tour, we'll do it a little before."

Stage 1 runs from Bastia to Porto-Vecchio, north-south for 146km along the eastern side of the island and is almost entirely flat. The route is likely to follow the N193 along the coast, then inland to pass by the Etang de Biguglia lake before reaching the town of Borgo. It then becomes the N198 and heads back to the coast near Figareto and Santa-Lucia-di-Moriani before dipping back inland to pass the Etang de Terrenzana and Etang d'Urbino, passes through Ghisonaccia and once again follows the coast from Solenzara. Moving inland for the last time, it heads south-west and into Porto-Vecchio.

Calvi, final point on the Tour's Corsican excursion
Stage 2, from Bastia to the island's capital and largest city Ajaccio, is a medium mountain stage of 147km. The most likely route is to once again take the N193 south, but remain on it rather than following the N198 near Borgo. This leads into the heart of the island and through the mountains of Monte before heading south to Vivario, then south-west and up to around 1,200m along the way to the capital.

Stage 3, 155km from Ajaccio to Calvi, will feature a number of challenging climbs including the Calanques de Piana, a steep-sided cove known for its natural beauty. A World Heritage Site, that it is sometimes termed "a Mediterranean fjord" reveals how steep the descent in and climb out are likely to be. The most likely route would be the D81 to Piana and Marine de Porto, then inland to Suare before joining the N197 on the northern coast and following it west into Calvi.

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