In what seems like the blink of an eye, we once again find ourselves on the precipice of another edition of Le Tour de France, the world’s most (in)famous bicycle race of all time. This year’s battle for the yellow jersey has a broad array of likely protagonists, while in the points competition we may just see the first true opportunity in several years to steal the green jersey away from the indomitable Peter Sagan. Regardless, before anyone truly needs to begin worrying about the next three weeks, 2016’s riders will need to turn their pedals for the first time and roll out for Stage 1 of Le Tour de France.
Normandy has called upon the iconic Mont Sant-Michel to act as this year’s dramatic backdrop to the opening of the race and will then stretch 188km north for the rest of the day in order to reach the historic Utah Beach at Sainte-Marie-du-Mont; forming our first finale of 2016’s race. The course itself is somewhat rolling, though the biggest issue here is likely to be strong wind, something which has the potential to cause mayhem late on as teams wrestle with one another to guarantee a sprint finish.
Mark Cavendish will be extremely motivated to win here and secure one of the few remaining major cycling prizes he has never obtained; the maillot jaune. His successes have diminished in recent years, but that is to be expected for a sprinter of his age, though teams would be foolish to underestimate him because of it. Cavendish no longer wields the leadout power he was once afforded during his most triumphant years and his preparation for this year’s contest has differed somewhat compared to his normal routine. He arrives here after a narrow defeat to Adam Blythe in the British Road Race Championships last weekend and will no doubt now use this as added motivation to strike while others are doubting his abilities.
André Greipel has seen his haul of grand tour stage wins grow significantly in the last year, proving to others just how dangerous he can be when given such a strong leadout team. Though today does not suit him perfectly, there is no way you can doubt the form he has enjoyed so far this year. The German looks extremely strong in 2016 and will utilise his incredibly well-oiled machine at Lotto-Soudal to win here and take the yellow jersey.
Marcel Kittel has finally returned to his former self after a disastrous year and now looksto be the favourite to win here; potentially even securing the green jersey too. He is likely to be the fastest man in the race nowadays, making him difficult to match, let alone beat. His leadout train may not be the best, but it is not far off that, seemingly guaranteeing himself a perfect position upon which to launch his rocket powered sprint.
Peter Sagan, Dylan Groenewegen, Alexander Kristoff, Sam Bennett, Bryan Coquard and Dan McLay are all favourites to fill up the top ten at the end of this year’s opening stage of the 2016 Le Tour de France.
1st André Greipel 2nd Marcel Kittel 3rd Mark Cavendish