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Tour de France to start in Manche in 2016

Tour de France set to kick off the 2016 race in the Manche department, in Normandy, near the English Channel

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PARIS (AFP) — The 2016 edition of the Tour de France will start in the Manche department in Normandy, organizer ASO said Monday.

It will be the first time the Tour, first raced in 1903, has started in that department, most famous for its hilltop island abbey, Mont Saint-Michel.

Manche, named after the French term for the English Channel that separates the country from Britain, has played host to a Tour stage 23 times since 2011, most recently in 2013 when stage 11 finished at Mont Saint-Michel. Tony Martin won that individual time trial.

Mont Saint-Michel is a UNESCO world heritage site.

The exact town that will host the Grand Départ will be revealed at a press conference on December 9.

The 2015 edition, where Italian Vincenzo Nibali will be defending his title, will begin in Utrecht in the Netherlands.