This year’s Tour de France could hardly have a more spectacular beginning, with Mont St Michel providing the backdrop for a sprint on day 1 to the Normandy beaches and a finish at Utah beach, possibly offering British sprinter Mark Cavendish a chance of his first ever yellow jersey.
From the north of France, the TDF will continue on its 3,535 km journey around the country, by heading south through the central western area towards the Pyrenees mountains. Here there are some classic mountain stages, with climbs encompassing famous cols such as the Aspin, the Tourmalet and the Peyresourde.
After a visit to the Principality of Andorra and some tough steep climbing, the route of the 2016 Tour de France heads across the south of France in the direction of the Alps, but not before a stage finish atop Mont Ventoux, one of the most iconic climbs in Tour history. Ventoux holds a special place in British cyclists’ hearts as it was here in 1967 that leading cyclist Tom Simpson died, and his memorial acts as a shrine for many visitors.
The final week of the Tour de France includes a detour to the Swiss capital city of Berne and then onwards to the Northern Alps and several stages around the shadows of Mont Blanc. As traditional in modern day TDF fashion, the last day is from Chantilly to Paris and the showdown on Les Champs Elysees.
So who will win the 2016 Yellow jersey? The favourite seems to be Team Sky’s leader Chris Froome, fresh from a victory in the Criterium du Dauphine, the traditional Alpine warm up stage race for the Tour, and seeking his third overall win in the Tour de France. Last year’s runner up Nairo Quintana, the Movistar team leader, will be up there, especially considering the amount of climbing in this year’s Tour. Although another year older, multiple Grand Tour winner Alberto Contador cannot be ruled out and his swashbuckling style will place him in contention. There could also be a breakthrough for a younger rider such as Astana’s Fabio Aru, or maybe one of the French hopes, Romain Bardet or Thibaut Pinot inspired by the French public, especially if the French national football team wins the European Championships!
One thing is for certain, the Tour de France continues to captivate the cycling public and the World at large. We cannot wait for the Grand Depart this weekend and that stage finish at Utah Beach, where this year’s first yellow jersey will be awarded. Come on Cav!