The 57th “Tour de Sarthe” will be run from 7th to 10th April this year, and the Bouygues Telecom team will once again be among the professional teams contending this annual precursor to the Tour de France – Thomas Voeckler of Bouygues Telecom won the event in 2008 but following injury in the Paris-Nice in March will miss this year’s event.
The 2009 running of the annual Circuit de la Sarthe road cycling race will halt on the penultimate day at Pré-en-Pail, a small town at the northern end of the Alpes Mancelles and close to Alençon. From Pré-en-Pail the race final stage runs on the 10th April (Good Friday) through several villages and towns in close proximity to us, so we’re still deciding where to go to watch it – Fyé, Rouessé Fontaine (the closest point, about 5-6km away from us) or René, a village just to the east of Ancinnes where we live; from there it goes on via Ballon to Le Mans for the finish.
The course will run the following route:
7 April # Stage 1 : Noirmoutiers » Ancenis (191.9 km)
8 April # Stage 2 :Ancenis » Angers (93.8 km)
8 April # Stage 3 :Angers » Angers (Individual Time Trial) (6.1 km) commencing 15.30h
9 April # Stage 4 :Angers » Pré-en-Pail (180.8 km)
10 April # Stage 5 : Pré-en-Pail » Le Mans (195.2 km)
For the last stage, closest to us, the race runs through the Sarthe from north to south to finish at Le Mans, where the last few kilometres will be run over a new circuit for this year. As well as the Côte de Gazonfier, the riders will also take on the Côte Saint-Blaise (Côte = Hill). There are also sprint points to be gained at several villages along the final day of riding, including René.
Among the teams competing are:
» AG2R La Mondiale
» Bouygues Télécom
» Caisse d’épargne
» Columbia – High Road
» Française des Jeux
» Saxo Bank
Here’s a link to the official site, with acknowledgment for the circuit map and photo from 2008: http://www.circuitcycliste.sarthe.com/.