Nibali to defend Tour de France yellow jersey

(AGI) Rome, July 2 - The 102nd edition of the Tour de Francewill kick off on Saturday, with 21 stages over 3,330km ofroads, the Alps, and the Pyrenees standing between the start inUtrecht and the finish line in Paris on July 26. A total of 198cyclists from 22 teams will participate in the race, won lastyear by Italian athlete Vincenzo Nibali. However, the Astanarider, who recently won his second Italian title, is not afavourite this year. He will start on the grid behind Britishcyclist Chris Froome (Sky), who won the competition in

(AGI) Rome, July 2 - The 102nd edition of the Tour de Francewill kick off on Saturday, with 21 stages over 3,330km ofroads, the Alps, and the Pyrenees standing between the start inUtrecht and the finish line in Paris on July 26. A total of 198cyclists from 22 teams will participate in the race, won lastyear by Italian athlete Vincenzo Nibali. However, the Astanarider, who recently won his second Italian title, is not afavourite this year. He will start on the grid behind Britishcyclist Chris Froome (Sky), who won the competition in 2013,Colombia's Nairo Quintana (Movistar), winner of the 2014 Girod'Italia, and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), who holds thepink jersey from this year's Giro and is ranked among the topsix most complete cyclists of all time. Contador, Nibali,Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Felice Gimondi, and BernardHinault are the only athletes to have won the Giro, Vuelta, andTour at least once. This year's Tour will feature only onetimed event, a team time trial, in the 28km-long ninth stagefrom Vannes to Plumelec. The competition will also comprise:six flat stages, which will likely include sprint sections; twovalley stages; four hilly stages; the historic cobbled roadfrom Seraing to Cambrai as the fourth stage; and seven uphillfinishes in the mountains. These will take place during thesecond week of the Tour, with three classic finish lines in thePyrenees, and four in the Alps in the final stages of thecompetition. The Tabres-LaPierre Saint Martin, au-CauteretsVallee de Saint Savin, and the Lannemezan-Plateau de Beillewill be the 10th, 11th, and 12th stages from July 14 to 16. TheTour's climax will be from July 22 to 25, with the Digne lesBains-Pra Loup, Gap-Saint Jean de Maurienne, Saint Jean deMaurienne-Le Toussuier, and the daunting Modane Valfrejus-Alped'Huez, where the next Tour de France champion will likely becrowned, followed by the classic ride to Paris for theceremonial finish. (AGI). .