The opening few stages of the 2018 Tour de France were unveiled on Tuesday with the Grand Depart including two road tests in the central west region of Vendée.

It was announced that riders will set off from the Passage du Gois, a causeway that Atlantic Ocean tides cover twice a day.

This section will feature in the race for the first time since 2011.

Race director Christian Prudhomme said: “The first picture all the people will see when they watch the Tour de France on the television all over the world will be pictures of the Gois, this incredible path which is unique in the world. It’s an underwater path – the sea covers over it twice a day with the tide. So the cyclists will cross this path and then they will go to Fontenay-le-Comte, a commune in the Vendee, for a stage which could have some surprises in store because they have to cross the Marais of Poitevin (an area of marshland) which is very open where it’s possible there could be echelon formations.”

Stage two will finish in La Roche-sur-Yon for the first time since 1938, stage three will be a 35-kilometre team time trial while Stage 4 will take the peloton north.

The rest of the route will be announced in October.