Normandy is unique place, it sits in the north-west corner of France on the edge of English Channel looking out towards the Isle of Wight. Full of dramatic coastal landscapes, lots of pebbly beaches, and some of France’s finest museums, quiet pastoral villages and architectural gems ranging from Rouen’s medieval old city – home of Monet’s favourite cathedral – to the maritime charms of Honfleur to the striking postwar modernism of Le Havre. Camembert, apples, cider, cream-rich cuisine and the very freshest fish and seafood.
The region plays host to one of the toughest races in the UCI’s Europe Tour calendar, the infamous, Tour de Normandie – seven days of battling coastal winds and often freezing rain with the aim to take home the presitgious yellow jersey.
Taking place from the 21-27th March the weather plays a major factor in determining the racing, Tom Moses was able to capitalise on the harsh elements in 2014 when he launched a solo attack in the pouring rain and took the stage win and yellow jersey.
Prologue – Monday 21st March › Carentan – 6.4km
A fast flat course with plenty of straight sections. The stage will go to a rider who is a strongest tester.
Stage 1 – Tuesday 22nd March – Mondeville › Forges-les-Eaux (201k)
Straight roads and plenty of cross winds to overcome as the race travels to the easterly tip of the region. There is a long sprint finish with a gradual rise, the stage looks set of a bunch sprint.
Stage 2 – Wednesday 23rd March Vernon › Elbeuf-sur-Seine (167k)
The stage begins flat and on paper looks fairly flat there is a tricky climb just after 100km. The Cote de Neubourg is only 1km long but has an average gradient of 10%. The peloton will round a bend into the climb and begin the ascent almost from a standing start. Riders will need to be alert if they are to ensure they are the first over the climb and at the head of the race.
|Eglise Saint Germain Cathedral|
Stage 3 – Thursday 24th March Bourg-Achard › Argentan (175.5k)
It is likely to be another tough day in the saddle as the race heads south to the tourist town of Argentan. The race complete three laps of the town and the twisty finishing circuit will make it difficult to keep and eye on all the attacks. Riders are predicted to finish in groups.
Stage 4 – Friday 25th March Bagnoles de l’orne › Bagnoles de l’orne (160k)
There are two early climbs to tackle on day 4 and once they are out the way it will be a flat day towards the finish. There is a technical run in to the line strategy is key if a rider wants to sneak a win by escaping the galloping pack in the final throws of the race.
Stage 5 – Saturday 26th March Trévières › Villedieu-les-Poeles (180k)
The longest stage of the race, after six days of racing the is no let up as the peloton tracks from the coast back inland. The overall race lead is expected to change hands and by the end of the stage the yellow jersey will be on the shoulders of another rider.
As soon as the day begins riders should expect to be battered by the wind in one form or another, the profile of the route provides the bunch with very little rest as they battle climb after climb.
Stage 6 – Sunday 27th March Coutances › Caen (150k)
The final day of racing is anything but an easy ride for riders with GC hopes. The climbing begins early and the racing will be relentless, teams will need to be alert and ensure they make early breaks because once established they will be difficult to ride across to, in the cross winds.
Estimated finish time for each day will be 16.30 local time