The 103rd edition of the Tour de France will begin in Normandy where the wind and the unpredictable weather will dictate the rules. Different from years past, the three-week stage race will start with a sprint stage instead of a prologue where anything is possible for most of the riders in the peloton. Riders may be willing to take greater risks to gain the lead, meaning a high potential for crashes; sprinters and classics riders will be the favorites. Without featuring any particular risky elements, apart from weather conditions, stages 3, 4 and 6 will also favor sprinters.
Stage 1 is a mostly flat 188km ride Mont-Saint-Michel 188km to Utah Beach Sainte Marie-Du-Mont. The race finishes at a famed D-Day World War II landing spot. Expect explosive action at the finish with one of the top sprinters such as Marcel Kittel taking the race’s first yellow jersey. Here’s a look at the entire 2016 route and the stage 1 profile.
Looking further ahead, the second stage is more like an Ardennes race. The riders must pay attention to the wind throughout the whole stage, which will take place close to Manche Channel. The finish is positioned at the top of a long and steep 2km climb that demands a 14% maximum gradient from riders. Explosive riders and powerful sprinters will surely fight for the win.
The 5th stage will offer 6 KOM’s (one cat4, three cat3 and two cat2). The last 50km of this stage will be extremely intense and if riders experience a crash or a mechanical problem there will be very little time to recover, meaning some GC riders may have to abandon their ambition to win the yellow jersey.
Climbers will have the advantage in the 7th, 8th and 9th stages. Stage 7 will be characterized by the Col d’Aspin, a 12km long climb featuring an average gradient of 6.5% and a maximum gradient of 9.5% near the 7th km. The finish line is placed after a 7km downhill where more experienced and skilled riders could close a gap if necessary, gaining an advantage that could help them win the race.
The week will conclude with two Pyrenees stages highlighting epic climbs such as Tourmalet, Val Louron-Azet and Peyesresourde. The last stage held in Andorra, with more than 5000mt of climbing, will separate those who do and don’t have the power needed to win the 2016 Tour de France.