Chris Froome
Britain's Chris Froome of Team Sky is the pre-race favourite.Getty Images

Chris Froome will seek to retain his Tour de France title and secure his place in cycling history when the Tour de France finishes in Paris on 24 July.

Where to watch

The 2016 Tour de France is being broadcast live on ITV4, while the channel will also show highlights.

Preview

One of the most iconic sporting events on the planet, the 103rd edition of the Tour de France begins in Manche, France, today (2 July) and will see the best riders in the world spend the next 22 days tackling some of the most fearsome terrain in Europe.

Britain's Chris Froome is seeking to claim the coveted crown for a third successive year, having replaced countryman Bradley Wiggins as the lead rider for Team Sky in 2013. Froome, 31, is a strong favourite to win his third Tour, which would make him one of just eight riders to have claimed the world's biggest race on three or more occasions.

The Kenyan-born Brit was dominant at last year's Tour, taking the lead during stage seven and never letting it slip. And having recently won the Criterium du Dauphine – one of the key lead-up races – Froome arrives at the Grand Depart in top form.

What's more, Froome will be backed by Team Sky's impressive roster of support riders, which includes Wout Poels, Mikel Landa, Sergio Henao, Mikel Nieve and Geraint Thomas. Froome may miss the help of his good friend and superdomestique Richie Porte this year, but Team Sky still boast a line-up capable of excelling in the all-important mountain stages.

Meanwhile, the Briton's strongest challenge is likely to come from Colombia's Nairo Quintana, who races for the Movistar Team, and Alberto Contador, the Spaniard whose career has been marked by doping accusations. Contador, 33, won the Tour de France in 2007 and 2010, although he was later stripped of his second title because of a doping offence.

Quintana, like Froome, will have the support of an impressive squad in the mountains, including Alejandro Valverde, who was third in last year's Tour. The Spaniard has dedicated himself fully to working for Quintana and ought to be a major asset to him in 2016.

Contador, meanwhile, is thought to be a little past his brilliant best, but knows this may be his last realistic chance of wearing the yellow jersey. A triumph on this year's Tour could help to restore the Spaniard's reputation in the eyes of casual cycling fans.

Key stages

Chris Froome
Chris Froome won a stage on Mont Ventoux in 2013Getty Images

This year's Tour route was unveiled in October 2015 and features two time trial events, both of which are individual, and five mountain stages, four of which have summit finishes.

Stage nine finishes in the mountainous surroundings of the principality of Andorra, culminating in a 10km climb. But perhaps the most exciting stage of all will see the peloton climb the legendary Mont Ventoux, which is otherwise known as the 'Giant of Provence'. Froome won a stage tour at the top of Mont Ventoux in 2013 on his way to claiming his first title.

The British rider has already revealed he is looking forward to testing himself on the mountain again in 2016. "I think it's going to take a complete cyclist [to win the Tour] – but the stage that certainly stands out for me is Mont Ventoux," Froome said.

Another one of the more mouth-watering stages will see the race end with a sprint finish on the Champs Elysees in Paris. Mark Cavendish, who has already won 26 Tour stages ahead of this year's event, will be desperate to claim another stage on the iconic boulevard.

Mark Cavendish
Mark Cavendish has a brilliant record of winning the final stage in ParisGetty Images

Odds (Betfair)

  • Chris Froome 5/4
  • Nairo Quintana 2/1
  • Alberto Contador 9/2
  • Richie Porte 18/1