This year’s Tour de France teams were presented on Thursday in Le Puy du Fou in the western region of Vendee.
The focus, however, was mainly on 28-year-old triple tour winner Alberto Contador, who will start the race as overwhelming favourite.
But the defending champion, who last month won the Giro d’Italia, will also begin the Tour with a dark cloud of suspicion hanging overhead.
The Spaniard is still waiting for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to rule on an appeal concerning a failed dope test in last year’s race.
Contador was cleared of wrongdoing by the Spanish federation but the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appealed. The CAS will not hear the appeal until August, meaning that Contador could end up losing two Tour titles if the decision goes against him.
But the Saxo Bank Sungard rider is focused on the race and a potential Giro-Tour double.
“All the races are very difficult to win and the Tour de France even more so. It’s really difficult especially after competing in the Giro (d’Italia). I know that it’s not the norm to win (both),” he said.
The 98th edition of the race begins this Saturday at the Passage du Gois in the west of the country.
198 riders will battle it out over 21 stages and a total distance of just under 3,500 kilometres.
It ends on the Champs-Elysées in Paris on Sunday July 24.