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The Tour de France peloton will land on British shores for only the fourth time in the race’s history, previously visiting in 2007, 1994 and 1974. With Britain winning the last two Tours and the sport enjoying a resurgence, the return is particularly timely.
For the second consecutive year the race begins with an open stage, giving the sprinters a chance to wear yellow for a few days.
Marcel Kittel will be looking to spoil the British party. He was the undisputed king of the sprints in last year’s race and the pressure will be on for him to do it again. However, Mark Cavendish has double reason to want to win on this day, as his mother is from the finishing town, Harrogate. He will also want to get revenge on Kittel for taking ‘his’ yellow jersey in Corsica.
Yorkshire might not be the Pyrenees, but the tight roads and steep climbs could end anyone’s general classification challenge before it even begins. The unpredictable Great British weather is likely to have its say at some point too.
The three climbs will be hard but short, so the sprinters should be able to hang onto the peloton easily. Provided we don’t have an accident like last year, this stage will be a battle of the world’s best sprinters.
Koen de Kort says... "The Griton Moor climb and the run into the finish line are quite difficult, but nothing a strong sprinter won't be able to survive so I'm still expecting a bunch sprint finish. Cavendish will be out to take the yellow, but we'll do all we can to help Marcel Kittel."
Stage 1 passes through the home of two of Britain’s most successful female cyclists. Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead is from Otley while two-time World Road Race Champion Beryl Burton hails from the start town of Leeds. Burton was also five-time world individual pursuit champion. She’s now considered one of the best female riders of all time and will be honoured during the Grand Départ.