|Tour de France: 2-24 July|
|Coverage: Daily live text commentary on BBC Sport website and radio coverage on BBC Radio 5 live Sports Extra and BBC Sport website|
Chris Froome became the first British rider to win two Tours de France when he triumphed in 2015.
This year, he is aiming to join an elite club of seven riders to win three. Colombian Nairo Quintana appears to be his main rival after two-time winner Alberto Contador, withdrew from the race during stage nine.
Geraint Thomas will be doing his utmost to help Team Sky team-mate and fellow Briton Froome and has given BBC Sport his guide to the three-week race.
The 21 stages of the 2016 Tour comprise nine flat stages, one hilly stage, nine mountain stages – including four summit finishes – and two individual time trials.
Saturday, 2 July – Stage 1: Mont-Saint-Michel – Utah Beach, 188km (116.8 miles)
Winner: Mark Cavendish (GB/Dimension Data)
Mark Cavendish produced a sensational sprint to claim his 27th Tour de France stage win and put himself in the yellow jersey for the first time. Coastal cross-winds did not create too much havoc on a day when one of the race favourites, Alberto Contador, crashed heavily but escaped with bruises. Defending champion Chris Froome was anonymous for much of the day, which is just how he would have wanted it.
Sunday, 3 July – Stage 2: Saint-Lo – Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, 183km (113.7 miles)
A solo break by Jasper Stuyven came within 500m of producing an upset but he was caught with the finish line in sight. Peter Sagan battled with Julian Alaphilippe on the run-in and the Slovak world champion emerged victorious, although he did not initially realise he had won the stage. Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana finish together but Alberto Contador and Richie Porte lose time.
Monday, 4 July – Stage 3: Granville – Angers, 223.5km (138.9 miles)
A photo finish was needed to split Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel in Angers. The German looked to have won the stage but a late lunge from the Manx Missile saw him nick it by millimetres on the line. The victory was Cavendish’s 28th Tour stage win, pulling him level with French legend Bernard Hinault and joint second on the all-time list behind Eddy Merckx on 34. Peter Sagan retained the race lead as the favourites for the overall win all finished together.
Tuesday, 5 July – Stage 4: Saumur – Limoges, 237.5km (147.6 miles)
For the second stage running, a photo finish was needed to decide the winner, and this time it was German Marcel Kittel holding off Frenchman Bryan Coquard by millimetres on the line. Peter Sagan retained the yellow jersey by finishing third and Mark Cavendish remained on 28 stage wins as he came eighth. Chris Froome and his overall rivals finished safely with the same time as the winner.
Wednesday, 6 July – Stage 5: Limoges – Le Lioran, 213.5km (132.7 miles)
Belgian Greg van Avermaet was the sole survivor of an early breakaway as he conquered the first mountain stage of this year’s Tour to take the yellow jersey. Defending champion Chris Froome dropped more than five minutes behind Van Avermaet, but remains level with his main rivals for the title.
Thursday, 7 July – Stage 6: Arpajon-sur-Cere – Montauban, 190.5km (118.4 miles)
Mark Cavendish earns a 29th career stage win, taking him above Bernaud Hinault to second outright in the overall Tour standings, after a thrilling sprint finish. The Manxman rode on the back of Marcel Kittel’s wheel to beat the German to the line, also picking up the green jersey. Britain’s Daniel McLay finished third, with Belgian Greg van Avermaet remaining in yellow.
Friday, 8 July – Stage 7: L’Isle-Jourdain – Lac de Payolle, 162.5km (101 miles)
As predicted by Geraint Thomas, Steve Cummings formed part of a breakaway on the first stage in the Pyrenees to earn a brilliant solo victory and a fourth for British riders in this year’s Tour and for the Dimension Data team. Brit Adam Yates fell foul of a collapsed inflatable marking the 1km to go point, while Greg van Avermaet produced a brilliant display to stay in yellow.
Saturday, 9 July – Stage 8: Pau – Bagneres-de-Luchon, 183km (113.7 miles)
After a quiet start to the Tour, defending champion Chris Froome exploded into this year’s race by launching an unexpected attack on the descent into the finish at Bagneres de Luchon. Team Sky set up the win with a grinding surge up the Col de Peyresourde but Froome surprised his rivals by sprinting down the other side, edging fellow Briton Adam Yates into second place in the overall standings.
Sunday, 10 July – Stage 9: Vielha Val d’Aran – Andorre Arcalis, 184.5km (114.6 miles)
On a day of contrasting weather, Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin is one of a big group to break free of the peloton in scorching temperatures but then attacks up the first mountain top finish of the Tour in pouring rain to earn his first Tour de France win. Chris Froome withstands several late attacks from his yellow jersey rivals but comes through the day unscathed. Adam Yates stays second in the general classification.
Monday, 11 July – Rest day
Tuesday, 12 July – Stage 10: Escaldes-Engordany – Revel, 197km (122.4 miles)
As predicted once more by Geraint Thomas, Australia’s Michael Matthews achieves a first Tour win thanks to a breakaway masterclass from his Orica-BikeExchange team-mates. Matthews beats the more isolated Peter Sagan to the line, although the Tinkoff rider takes over in the green jersey from Mark Cavendish. Chris Froome enjoys an easy day in yellow as the main contenders gain no advantage.
Wednesday, 13 July – Stage 11: Carcassonne – Montpellier, 162.5km (100.1 miles)
The expected bunch sprint in Montpellier fails to materialise after Peter Sagan and Chris Froome take advantage of cross winds to break clear in the final 15km and take a one-two on the stage. Both riders benefit with Froome extending his lead over Adam Yates and Nairo Quintana by 12 seconds, while Sagan moves 90 points clear in the green jersey classification.
Thursday, 14 July – Stage 12: Montpellier – Mont Ventoux, 184km (114.3 miles)
It was one of the most remarkable days the Tour de France has seen in its 113-year history.
With the stage reaching the final moments, Richie Porte crashed into a motorbike, bringing Chris Froome and Bauke Mollema down with him, after the trio had escaped their yellow jersey rivals. Froome, with his bike unusable, started to jog towards the finish line, before being given a replacement bike, but could not get his cycling shoes into the pedals. The defending champion finally received a new bike, but finished down on his rivals. The times were eventually amended, meaning Froome kept hold of the yellow jersey. Thomas de Gendt won the stage having been part of an early 13-man breakaway.
Friday, 15 July – Stage 13: Individual time trial, Bourg-Saint-Andeol – La Caverne du Pont-D’Arc, 37.5km (23.3 miles)
Tour de France organisers had considered cancelling the stage after Thursday’s attack in Nice that killed at least 84 people. But racing continued, with heightened security and in a sombre atmosphere, as a minute’s silence was held before and after the stage.
On the road, Chris Froome extended his lead in the yellow jersey to one minute and 47 seconds, after finishing second in the time trial behind Dutchman Tom Dumoulin.
Saturday, 16 July – Stage 14: Montelimar – Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux, 208.5km (129.6 miles)
Mark Cavendish’s excellent Tour continued as he won his fourth stage his year – taking his career tally to 30, just four short of Eddy Merckx’s record. Cavendish upset rival Marcel Kittel, who believed he was cut up by the Manxman on the way to the finish line, but the result stood.
It was a more relaxing day for the general classification contenders, with Chris Froome finishing in the peloton and maintaining his lead of one minute 47 seconds in the yellow jersey.
Sunday, 17 July – Stage 15: Bourg-en-Bresse – Culoz, 160km (99.4 miles)
At the end of a stage considered one of the Tour’s most challenging days, overall leader Chris Froome went surprisingly unchallenged across the Jura Mountains and maintained his lead of one minute 47 seconds ahead of his closest rival, Dutchman Bauke Mollema. Briton Froome knows it will now take something special to prevent him winning a third Tour title.
Colombia celebrated its first stage win of the 2016 Tour, with Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) outsprinting Poland’s Rafal Majka to claim his maiden Grand Tour stage win.
Monday, 18 July – Stage 16: Moirans-en-Montagne – Berne, 209km (129.9 miles)
Peter Sagan beats Alexander Kritstoff in the third photo finish of this year’s to earn a third stage win. The victory also ensures that if the Slovak can avoid a withdrawal, he will hold onto the green jersey for a fifth consecutive year. Chris Froome finishes safely after what he calls a “sketchy” end to the stage and admits he is looking forward to a rest day before the final push in the Alps.
Tuesday, 19 July – Rest day
Wednesday, 20 July – Stage 17: Berne – Finhaut Emosson, 184km (114.3 miles)
Any faint hopes that Chris Froome’s rivals had of chasing down the 2013 and 2015 champion seemed to evaporate, as Bauke Mollema and Nairo Quintana were both dropped on the steep ascent to finish line at Finhaut-Emosson. Froome’s fellow Briton Adam Yates continued his wonderful Tour, though, and Ilnur Zakarin had the legs to hold off Jarlinson Pantano to win the gruelling stage, which was held entirely in Switzerland.
Thursday, 21 July – Stage 18: Individual time trial, Sallanches – Megeve, 17km (10.6 miles)
Britain’s Chris Froome times his race to perfection to beat Tom Dumoulin and win a second stage on this year’s race and extend his lead over the field to move almost four minutes clear of Bauke Mollema in second. Fellow Briton Adam Yates retains third overall but Nairo Quintana is just 21 seconds back in fourth as the race for the podium places heats up.
Friday, 22 July – Stage 19: Albertville – Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc, 146km (90.7 miles)
Thomas’ view: “This is a dangerous stage. There will be a strong breakaway on that first climb and if the team of the yellow jersey wearer are having a bad day, their leader could easily be isolated, as happened to Chris Froome on stage nine in 2013. The leader might be strong enough to follow on a climb but if somebody goes on the flat it’s harder. You could have the strongest guy in the race but if he’s on his own early on it will tough for him to keep the jersey.”
Thomas’ one to watch: “Fabio Aru. The Italian won the Vuelta a Espana last year and has been chosen as Astana team leader over compatriot Vincenzo Nibali, who won this race in 2014. He is not as good a time-trial rider as the other favourites so may need to make up time in the mountains.”
Saturday, 23 July – Stage 20: Megeve – Morzine, 146km (90.7 miles)
Thomas’ view: “These climbs were tough when we tried them after a training camp, so they will be even more punishing on stage 20 of the Tour de France. If we need to make time up, we’ll make the stage as hard as we can for as long as we can. The descent into Morzine is not super-technical but it is the final descent in the Alps, in the Tour, and if you are tired and chasing hard, you could make a mistake, which makes it dangerous.”
Thomas’ one to watch: “This would have been perfect for Alberto Contador. If the two-time Tour winner had needed to make up time on the race leader, he could have gone all in, attacked super early and put everyone under pressure. Sadly, with his retirement form the race through illness, we’ll not get the chance to see one of his trademark long solo attacks.”
Sunday, 24 July – Stage 21: Chantilly – Paris, 113km (70.2 miles)
Thomas’ view: “We finish with the traditional procession into Paris and a sprint finish on the Champs-Elysees. It’s an amazing feeling to ride into Paris regardless of whether or not you are on the winning team. Obviously it’s better if your lead rider has won because all the other riders are complimentary and it was incredible to finish arm-in-arm like we did last year. In 2014 it was a very different feeling because we didn’t win. It was a bit strange because we had nothing to ride for, but you are still happy to complete the race, see your wife and friends, have a normal life, drink a beer and eat a pizza. Come the Sunday night, whether we have won or not, we will let off a bit of steam.”
Thomas’ one to watch: “Marcel Kittel. The German has won both the sprints he has contested on the Champs-Elysees, in 2013 and 2014. Andre Greipel won last year’s sprint, while Mark Cavendish – who pulled out of this year’s Tour with five stages left to focus on his Olympic ambitions – won four on the trot between 2009 and 2012.”
Yellow jersey – worn by the overall leader of the race.
Green jersey – worn by the leader of the points classification. Points are awarded at intermediate sprints and the finish line for the first 15 riders. The winner of a flat stage picks up 50 points, sliding down to one for 15th. There are 30 points for the winner of medium mountain stage and 20 for a big mountain stage. Intermediate sprint winners pick up 20 points.
Polka dot jersey – worn by the leader of the King of the Mountains classification. Points are awarded at the top of categorised climbs. The number of points is doubled on a summit finish.
The first rider to reach the summit on the hardest category climbs is awarded 25 points, sliding down to two for the 10th rider. On category one climbs, the points slide from 10 to one for the first six riders. On category two ascents, the points are five, three, two and one for the first four over the line. Category three passes reward the first two to the top with two and one points, while one point is on offer for the first rider on a category four climb.
Points awarded are doubled on the summit finishes on the ninth, 12th, 17th and 19th stages.
White jersey – worn by the best rider aged 25 or under in the current year.
Geraint Thomas was talking to BBC Sport’s Peter Scrivener.