Tour de France 2016: Stage-by-stage guide

1st July 2016

The 103rd edition of La Grande Boucle gets under way on Saturday. The race will start at around 11.20am (BST) when 198 riders roll out from Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy.

Each year, in the sweltering heat of July, millions of people take up positions on roadsides around France to cheer, shout and bellow cries of encouragement to a pelaton of nearly 200 cyclists as they speed past in a stream of day-glo lycra. Millions more watch on television – though few of them are cycling aficionados. Because the Tour de France is far more than a mere bike race. For the French, it’s a national institution; a symbol of unity; a chance, as the riders pit themselves against the toughest terrain the mighty héxagone can throw at them, to admire the scenic splendour of the country in all its summer glory, with the fields of the Garonne’s sunflowers in full bloom, the Côte d’Azur at its most sleek, and the craggy Alps basking under boundless blue skies.

Last year Chris Froome became the first British rider to win two Tours de France. This year he is aiming to join an elite club of seven riders to win three. Spain's Alberto Contador, who is also chasing a third win, Colombian Nairo Quintana, Italy's Fabio Aru and Australian Richie Porte are among the pre-race favourites.

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