Tour de France 2016 – Saumur’s excited!
July 5th – Tour de France 2016 – Saumur to Limoges
You really are lucky if you’re on a cycling holiday in France and the Tour de France decides to drop in!
Saumur is certainly getting excited at the prospect of hosting a stage start to the world’s premier cycling event! It’s the first time since 1987, when Stephen Roche won a time trial from Saumur to Futuroscope near Poitiers.
This week, Saumur’s council announced the events that have been organised to mark this special occasion.
March 27 will see all the sporting clubs of Saumur don their team colours to run the first 10kms of the route, so to the outskirts of Saumur. This point will mark the end of the neutral zone on the actual race day, when the first breaks will attempt to escape the peleton in July.
During April & May all the local schools will be working on a project with a Tour de France theme.
On Saturday the 11th June, during the annual ‘Fete du Sport’, where all of Saumur’s sports clubs have stands to drum up new members, there will be special displays dedicated to the Tour de France.
The annual Velo Vintage event (18/19 June) will have Tour de France stands, exhibits and three huge jerseys hung from the town hall, the Yellow Jersey (overall leader), the Green Jersey (points race leader) and Polkadot Jersey (the king of the mountains leader). I must remember to get a photo….
July 2nd will see a day/night invitational cycling race (60kms including 1.4km of cobbles) with lots of evening activities for spectators. On Sunday 3rd July twenty cyclists from Saumur will cycle the stage with school children from both Saumur and Limoges taking part in the start and finish.
Finally, the 5th July arrives and it’s an early breakfast on Rue St Nicholas for Bernard Hinault, Bernard Thevenet and various dignatories – and while they munch on their croissants, the rest of us have the chance to soak up the atmosphere in the ‘Village Depart’ (Place du Chardonnet) and catch the riders signing on and warming up.
The roads surrounding the town will be decorated to marry Saumur’s rich Cavalry and equine traditions with the history of the Tour de France.
Large screens will be set up in each of the main squares to cover both the start and the conclusion to the stage. The stage is the longest in this year’s Tour de France and usually won by a sprinter – so Cavendish perhaps – he does well every time the tour comes through this area.
For those cyclists lucky enough to be on our Discovery Tour on the 5th, we’re planning on heading down to catch the fun, and then letting you cycle home, where you can dream you are part of the peleton!
If the weather is kind it should be a day for Saumur to remember….and if you’re on a cycling holiday then it should make for a real highlight.