Le Tour de France, a long history with the Vendée
The Tour de France and the Vendée have a long and common history, as the region has hosted the Tours « Grand Depart » on several occasions. For the first time in 1976, the Tour de France departed from Saint Jean de Monts. Thereafter on a regular basis every six years, The Puy du Fou was the next departure point in 1993 and 1999. It was then the turn of Challans, in 2005 (where the inaugural time trials were staged at Fromentine). In 2011 L'Ile de Noirmoutier, where the first stage set off from the famous Passage du Gois and in 2018 from Noirmoutier en l'Ile. And finally, The Vendee can also proudly boost for having the greatest number of cycling events in France.
Tour de France History facts
There has always been a strong link between the Vendée and the Tour. The roads of the Pays de la Loire and the Vendee featured in the first Tour de France in 1903. This was during the penultimate stage from Bordeaux to Nantes. These years of history show the importance and heritage of cycling in the region. This link was very present, existing well before that the region was awarded the privilege of hosting the “Grand Départ”. In the 1920's, there were often meetings in Les Sables d'Olonne between the sprinters Pélissier, Leducq and Frantz. Where they confronted each other and “battled it out” to the end. And perhaps making the Vendee Globe town, a place marked by achievements.
In 2018 and for the last edition, riders enjoyed the best part of four days exploring the roads of the Pays de la Loire. Pushing the boundaries with a team time trial in Cholet and ending with a start in La Baule. The same desire for success and adventure can be found across the region. And which inspires champions!
The Vendee already hosted 6 “Grands Départs” of Le Tour de France
A tremendous event like the Tour de France, starting 6 times in the Vendée, just shows the importance and heritage of cycling in the area:
- 1934: La Roche sur Yon. Antonin Magne was on his way to his second Tour victory.
- 1975: Saint Jean de Monts. Eddy Merckx, already the world champion, dominated here in a time trial stage.
- 1976: The Grand Départ is awarded to Saint Jean de Monts.
- 1979: Jean-René Bernaudeau, from Saint Maurice le Girard in Vendée. 5th in the general classification and the white jersey for best young rider.
- 1993 and 1999: The Grand Départ is awarded to Puy du Fou®.
- 2005: The Grand Départ is awarded to Fromentine.
- 2011: The Grand Départ is awarded to Passage du Gois (Ile de Noirmoutier). Thomas Voeckler, an honorary Vendean and the yellow jersey wearer for ten days in 2004, repeated this form in 2011 and achieved 4th place in the general classification. In 2012, he took the Tour de France king of the mountains overall prize.
- 2018: The Grand Départ is awarded to L'Ile de Noirmoutier.