Tour de France 2016 Stage One Preview: Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach

The Tour de France kicks off today; and with it being a sprinters' stage, who will come out on top?

Tour de France 2016 Stage One Preview: Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach
A flat stage will kick-off the Tour this year / BBC Sport

The biggest race of the year takes place today as the Tour de France finally gets under way after weeks of build up.

This year’s race is anticipated to be one of the tightly fought ones in years; the likes of Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru, and Nairo Quintana will all be hoping for the Maillot Jaune at the end of the three week gruel-fest.

But of course, only one can win; and with this year’s course taking in a variety of terrains; the riders have a lot more to cope with than in previous years.

Traditional sprint stage opens 2016 Tour

The organisers tend to like a sprint stage or a prologue to open the Tour; this year they have opted for a sprint stage; a stage that will start from Mont-Saint-Michel and end up at Utah Beach; a beach made famous by the battles that ensued in World War II.

So with it being a sprinters delight - Mark Cavendish, Andre Greipel, Marcel Kittel will all be hoping to claim the Maillot Jaune on the opening day.

Cavendish will be hoping to add the Yellow Jersey to his palmares today / Sky Sports
Cavendish will be hoping to add the Yellow Jersey to his palmares today / Sky Sports

And, for Cavendish, he is hoping to claim the Yellow Jersey, a feat which would set him off nicely in his bid to hopefully win a medal at the Olympics and then another Rainbow Jersey later this year.

The Route

It’s certainly not the longest stage, so it won’t be the rider’s toughest day in the bike, that will come later – but there might be some suffering if winds play apart like they did last year on stage two – just ask Quintana, the Columbian lost two minutes in Holland last year, and he certainly won’t want the same thing striking twice.

There is some King of the Mountains points up for grabs at Cote d’Avranches and Cote des Falaises de Champeaux; but other than those it will all be about the sprint at the finish.

Whatever happens it is sure to be an exciting day; the Tour always brings a following regardless of past troubles; and with the contest threatening to be the tightest in years it is an event not to be missed.