Porto-Vecchio to Bastia : 29 June 2013
The presentation of the teams took place the day before in Porto-Vecchio and on the 29 June the 100th edition of the Tour got underway with the Grand Départ from outside the Mayor's office in the centre of Porto-Vecchio. At 212km to the finish in Bastia at the other end of the island this was one of the Tour's longer stages. Before heading north however the peloton first headed south on a excursion that skirted the stunning bay of Palombaggia and down to the cliff tops that provide the perch for the town of Bonifacio. This is as far south as they went and a loop was taken with a few undulations back towards and then past Porto-Vecchio and on, to the plains and flat and relatively straight N198 east coast road.
For a place that is known as the, 'island of ten thousand bends' and famed for it's alpine terrain, day one was no guide to what was to come in the following two days.
The opening stage of the Tour was unusual in that it was straight into stage racing and not an individual time trial as has so often been the case. Being a flat stage it offered Mark Cavendish the first chance in his career to wear the yellow jersey as well as becoming one of a select few riders in the history of the tour to win both the first and the final stages in the same race. Alas it was not to be the case as a crash in the bunch towards the end of the stage put paid to Cavendish's chances. Sadly things turned out even worse for him in Yorkshire in 2014!
The conclusion of the stage was memorable for another reason when just 50m from where I was standing the Orica GreenEdge bus got stuck at the finishing line under the timing gantry. For a while there was disbelief combined with sheer pandemonium until some wise person had the idea to deflate the front tyres enabling the bus to reverse free. The stage was won in an exciting sprint by Marcel Kittel of Argos-Shimano. The first Brit home was David Millar that well known Scottish sprinter!
Unless you're absolutely determined to do the entire stage I would recommend putting together elements of both the Tour stage and those of the Criterium International in the south. This way you'll get to experience the best of the cycling on offer in the Grand Sud.
© M.Lund 2013-17