July 2nd, day 1 of the biggest bike race on planet earth. Tour 2016 begins as one for the sprinters and gives Mark Cavendish a chance at an elusive yellow, and potentially the French contingent an opportunity to seize yellow for the host nation.
Stage 1: Mont Saint Michel to Utah Beach – 188 kilometres
The 2016 Tour de France will start not with a traditional short prologue time trial, but with a 188 kilometre road stage from the foot of Mont Saint Michel to Utah Beach, the site of Allied landings during the D-Day landings. Mont Saint Michel used to be accessible only at low tide due to the causeway there flooding during high tide, but a recently constructed pedestrian bridge now connects it to the mainland regardless of the tide.
The stage should be one for the sprinters, but look for an early break to head up the road in pursuit of the first King of the Mountain jersey of the tour, with category four climbs at 20 kilometres and 39 kilometres. There is an intermediate sprint at 118 kilometres, but expect the whole field to be back together for a big bunch gallop coming into the finish line. With the first yellow jersey of the tour on the line, look for the big guns of world sprinting like Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan, Andre Greipel, and Marcel Kittel to give it everything they have, while Bryan Coquard and Nacer Bouhanni will try to claim the jersey for the host nation.