Circuit Cycliste Sarthe - Pays de la Loire Live Coverage (ticker)

Circuit Cycliste Sarthe - Pays de la Loire
The peloton crosses the line during the circuit finish in Angers, 2003.
Copyright © Pete Geyer/

The 2009 Circuit Cycliste Sarthe - Pays de la Loire got underway this morning and runs through April 10.  Today's Stage 1 departed the island of Noirmoutier via the Passage du Gois.  Yes, THAT Passage du Gois, the same one used in Stage 2 of the 1999 Tour de France that saw a massive crash on its slippery surface that split the peloton, with a certain Lance Armstrong in a group up the road but his top lieutenant for the mountain stages, Jonathan Vaughters, on the ground and out of the race.

The island of Noirmoutier.
Copyright © Pete Geyer/

Vacationers at the Passage du Gois, which can only be crossed at low tide,
wait for the tide to recede.  The passage, 4.5km long, is naturally
flooded at high tide twice a day.
Copyright © Pete Geyer/

I can no longer think of the Circuit Sarthe without thinking of Saul Raisin's crash in Stage 1 of this race in 2006.  Saul had raced Milan-San Remo that year and seemed poised for a break-out season before the crash ended his pro dreams.  I'd otherwise think of Sarthe as a minor race...but from this perspective, there is no such thing as a minor bike race.  The race arrives each year in the city of Angers, where Saul's parents spent weeks waiting and worrying about the future of their son who was in hospital there.  The story is told in Saul's book, "Tour de Life".  -Pete

Riders on the start list this year include: Kloden, Pereiro, McCartney, Moos, Casper, Goubert, Vaugrenard, Kirchen, Lewis, Henderson, Barry, El Fares, Dumoulin, Voeckler, Bouyer.

Circuit Cycliste Sarthe Official Website
Start List
Live ticker
(Google-translated to English)

Official site photos

Stage 1 video highlights on French TV Evening News
Watch from 20:30 to 22:37 in program