L’ILE-ROUSSE, France (AFP) — Tour de France organizers declared the event’s first-ever visit to Corsica a resounding success on
Monday after the completion of the last of three stages to be held on the Mediterranean island.
The decision to bring the Tour to Corsica for the first time was made to help mark the 100th staging of the sport’s most famous race.
Saturday’s first stage will be remembered for a farcical incident involving the Orica-GreenEdge bus, which became stuck under a gantry at the finish line, creating panic and confusion among the peloton, while Corsican Nationalists had briefly threatened to block the start of Monday’s third stage in Ajaccio.
However, when the dust settles most will look back on the Corsican section of this year’s Tour with fond memories, particularly of the stunning weather and scenery in the mountainous interior and along the rugged coastline.
At the end of Monday’s third stage from Ajaccio to the northern resort of Calvi, arguably the toughest of the race so far, Tour director Christian Prudhomme expressed his delight and admitted to being taken aback by the welcome received by locals on the island.
“It was a great stage and the scenery was absolutely superb,” he told reporters. “I am delighted with this Grand Départ, it has been magnificent. The people here have shown the kind of real fervor and enthusiasm which you so often see by the road on the Tour de France.
“But I have never seen so many people say ‘thank you.’ I even had one man kiss my hand this morning. It was incredible.
“We have felt a real sense of pride amongst the people at being able to host the Tour.”
Meanwhile, riders and the race entourage were fighting traffic and tight schedules to exit the island. The former will fly to the mainland Monday evening, while may of the team and race staff will travel to Nice via ferry.
American Ted King (Cannondale) took to Twitter on Monday to describe the travel out of Corsica: “Hrmm. Who would have thought that a stage finish at 5pm, shower, bus to airport, flight to Nice, and TTT tomorrow would be a cluster?”
Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish, winner of 23 Tour stages, wrote, “Leaving Corsica for Nice. Eventually. Been sat on this plane a while. @opqscyclingteam are about to cause a riot.”
The Tour now moves to the mainland, with Tuesday’s fourth stage — a 25-kilometer team time trial around Nice.