Fortunately for those who eagerly await Le Tour de France each summer, the Tour de Normandie cycliste means cycle-lovers can get stuck into racing a few months early. The professionals get back in the saddle for the seven stage race which conjures up a tricky route. Totalling 1,131.5km, the route covers a distance roughly one third of that raced in Le Tour de France. It is both good training for Alpine climbs and a fun way to explore the region. The Grand Départ takes place at Juno Beach in Calvados where the péloton shoots out of Courseulles-sur-Mer, taking in the rugged coastline before heading inland towards historic towns, via climbs as steep as 7.8%. Each morning, join the cycle-enthusiasts in the stands to cheer off the competitors before trying a more leisurely ride of your own. The first Tour de Normandie cycliste took place in 1939 but took a pause between the 1950s and 80s, before becoming an annual event once again in 1981.