Notorious passage start for 2018 Tour de France

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Great Britain's Christopher Froome, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, crosses the finish line to win the 17 km individual time-trial, the eighteenth stage of the 103rd edition of the Tour de France, July 21, 2016 between Sallanches and Megeve.

CYCLING - Next year's Tour de France will begin on a notorious, slippery passageway linking an island off the west coast to the mainland, organisers ASO revealed on Tuesday.

The Grand Depart of the 105th edition of the world's most prestigious cycle race will start on June 30, 2018 on the 4km Passage du Gois -- a natural periodically flooded land-bridge from the island of Noirmoutier to the Vendee department in the Loire region -- with a 195km flat stage.

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The passage has an infamous place in Tour history as it proved decisive in helping Lance Armstrong win the first of his seven titles -- he was later stripped of all of them for doping -- in 1999.

Many of the favourites, including Switzerland's Alex Zulle, crashed on the slippery cobbles and ended up losing six minutes to the American, who would eventually win the Tour by seven minutes.

The passage last featured at the Tour in 2011, when it also hosted the Grand Depart.

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After a second flat stage of 185km, the third stage on July 2, 2018 will be a 35km team timetrial around Cholet.

The race will then leave the Vendee department the following day although the destination of the fourth stage and the programme for the rest of the 2018 Tour will not be revealed until October.

In the meantime, the 2017 Tour will start in Duesseldorf, Germany on July 1.

Britain's Chris Froome is the current champion having won the race for the third time last year.