A slippery launch to 2018 Tour de France

FILE - In this July 2, 2011 file photo, the pack passes the Passage du Gois, a causeway submerged by the tide twice a day joining Noirmoutier island and the mainland, rear, during the first stage of the Tour de France. Tour organizers unveiled Wednesday Feb. 28, 2017 the route for the three first stages of next year's edition of the race, which will start in the western Pays de La Loire region on June 30, 2018. Riders competing at the 2018 Tour de France will set off from the Passage du Gois. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

The Passage du Gois is back in the Tour de France again. That’s French for “Huge Pile-up of Fallen Pro Cyclists.”

The Passage is a wet and slippery run from the island of Noirmoutier, across a four kilometer land bridge that’s often flooded by the tides, to the mainland in the Vendee department of the Loire region.

Even when not flooded, it can still be sketchy and treacherous so imagine 200 amped up pro cyclists flying across it for stage one of the 2018 Tour de France. If Sky’s Chris Froome takes his fourth win this year, he’ll fear this stage one as he tries to win numero five. Sky will probably bring their own heating fans to dry out the road.

The Passage du Gois figured prominently in there 1999 Tour de France. Lance Armstrong made it across without incident but races favorites like Alex Zulle lost six minutes in a large pileup. It’s dangerous and that’s the fun of it — at least in the mind of Tour boss Christian Prudhomme.

Just how wet and slippery is the Passage? Check out these videos and the original 1999 crash.


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