Preview: Stages 1-3

Cycle//Tour de France


After weeks, or maybe even months of build-up and preparation, the 102nd Tour de France gets into gear with the Grand Depart in Utrecht, Netherlands on Saturday. 

Stage 1 - Individual time trial: Utrecht - Utrecht (13.8km)

The 2015 Tour de France starts with an individual time trial starting and finishing in Utrecht. The short, twisty stage is sure to favour a puncheur. The stage is largely flat with two slight inclines, one which is near the finish line, that could pose some problems for tired legs. 

German time-trial champion Tony Martin will be one of the favourites to wear the yellow jersey on the second day, but the likes of Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara and Great Britain's Geraint Thomas are sure to be up there. 

Stage 2 - Utrecht - Zelande (166km)

Stage two sees the riders leave Utrecht, passing through the city of Rotterdam before arriving in Zelande. Despite being a relatively short for a flat stage, it is likely to be one of the most difficult as the riders make their way along the Dutch coast, creating huge crosswinds. It could cause a lot of problems and create gaps in the peloton. The teams will have to make sure their leader is near the front of any broken peloton so as not to lose time against their rivals early on. A sprinter is most likely to cross the line first in Zelande. 

Stage 3 - Antwerp - Huy (159.5km)

The riders move into Belgium for the third stage on this year's Tour. Featuring four categorised climbs and a steep finish, it could see some of the yellow jersey contenders attempt to gain some time on their rivals. The stage finishes on the Mur de Huy, a climb of 19% gradients. But at just 1km long, contenders will need to be well placed to avoid losing time against their rivals. The sprint section comes late in the stage, just over 30km from the finish. Puncheurs like Alejandro Valverde or Joaquim Rodriguez are favourites, but Geraint Thomas has been working on his climbs, so could be a contender. 

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