The Grand Depart is on the tidal island of Noirmoutier and head towards Fontenay-le-Comte on a flatish stage of 189 kms, running along the Vendée coast. A lot of the GC teams domestiques will do the grunt of the work, looking after their leaders and keeping an eye on their rivals. These opening stages are of a huge importance to the sprinters.
Much of the route follows the twisting Vendée coastline, so cross winds and echelons could be lurking during the entire day.
The race will start with the Passage du Gois, which only connects the island with the mainland at lowtide.
The winds off the Atlantic sea could play a huge part as could the rain. With these conditions, these stages can turn into a nervous frenzy of action, as the domestiques protect their GC contenders and pull for the sprinters too. For the GC riders, it's heads down and follow wheels, but for the Sprinters it's time to start taking points in the intermediate sprints and stage bonuses.
Expect lots of attacks from the gun and some furious action, until the peloton is happy with any breakaway. Stage 1 has an intermediate sprint after 119 kms and then a short sharp climb with just 30 kms to go. The stage could see a breakaway go full gas to stay away or the sprinters team chase it down, with attacks with 30 kms to go, on the Cote de Vix, a prime place for a Rouler like Peter Sagan to go on the attack. Remember the stage winner also takes the Yellow jersey too!
The beauty of the start on the tidal roadway on the island of Noirmoutier is not to be missed.