Tour de France Gets Underway

Photo: SIRPA Gendarmerie

Photo: SIRPA Gendarmerie

As the Tour de France gets underway this weekend fans in Normandy are getting ready for the historic stage that will end at Mont Saint Michel on 10 July.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the Tour the gendarmes, who have provided escorts for the race since it started in 1913, have released a series of photographs showing how their role has changed over the years.

At the start they were on motorbikes and on foot, now they use the latest technology including helicopters and tracking devices to make sure the race has the highest security possible.

‘Since the beginning the police have been able to adapt as this world famous event has unfolded. The police are present at the heart of the event ensuring the safety of the riders, the publicity caravans and the general public,’ said a spokesman for the national police force.

During the three weeks of the race some 12,000 police will have taken part in the security arrangements, including 45 motorcyclists from the Republican Guard.

The Tour starts in Corsica on Saturday 29 June and the eleventh stage arrives in Normandy on 10 July. The 33 kilometre time trial to Mont Saint Michel gets underway at Avranches at 10am outside the town hall and continues through Saint Martin des Champs, Ducey, Juilley, and Courtils. The caravan with all the advance publicity leaves Avranches at 08.40.

British riders Mark Cavendish who is on the Omega-Pharma-Quickstep team and Mark Froome with Team Sky, are both due to take part. Sir Bradley Wiggins, who won last year, had to pull out due to a knee injury.

Also taking part is local rider Anthony Delaplace who was born in Valognes and is part of the Sojasun team. Delaplace, 23, was the youngest rider in the Tour in 2011 but last year he had to abandon the race during the seventh stage after breaking two bones in a fall.

In total 198 riders are due to take part in the race which covers 2,000 miles and ends at dusk in Paris at the Champs Elysee on 21 July.

The Tour began as a newspaper promotional event and is now an international global sporting fixture. The first tour consisted of six gruelling stages across France with each day averaging more than 250 miles. The race began before dawn, sometimes midnight for the mountain stages.

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About Ray Clancy

Ray Clancy has 20 years experience in journalism including contributing articles to print and on-line publications such as, Property World Middle East and websites for estate agents. She has also written for the Daily Telegraph and Mail on Sunday.

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