The 102nd Tour de France begins on Monday NZT, with the first stage beginning in Utrecht, Netherlands. Here's all you need to know about the latest edition.

Five crazy tales from the Tour de France

Five riders to watch

Vincenzo Nibali:

The reigning champion does not have the same approach to the Tour build-up as some of his rivals. As was the case 12 months ago, Nibali has seemed slightly behind in his preparation compared to some other contenders. He finished only 12th at last month's Criterium du Dauphine as he struggled to keep pace on the high mountain stages. But his daring and ambitious break on rolling terrain on the Dauphine's sixth stage proved he has the ability to think out of the box and take opportunities when others are expecting a quiet day in the saddle. Perhaps the best contender tactically, he will look to the cobbles on the fourth stage to make his mark again

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Alberto Contador:
The most-experienced of the contenders, Contador is aiming for an ambitious Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double. He won well at May's Giro despite a late push from Italian Fabio Aru. But the last time Contador tried this, in 2011, he came up short at the Tour, finishing just fifth having won the Giro - although he was later stripped of both results as he was banned for two years for failing a doping test. It's a tough ask to take on the Tour just over a month after finishing the Giro, particularly against rivals whose whole focus has been the ride around France. What's more, the tough final week of the Tour, when fatigue is likely to hit Contador, could really work against the Spaniard

Chris Froome:
For many, Froome remains the man to beat as he has consistently shown over the past three years he is a cut above the rest when in form. He has not managed to repeat his consistent brilliance from 2013, when he won the Tour of Oman, Criterium international, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine before breezing to Tour de France victory. But even so, he won the Tour of Oman and Tour de Romandie in 2014 and, this year, triumphed at the Vuelta a Andalucia and Criterium du Dauphine. He might not be as dominant as he was in 2013, nor is his Sky team, but Froome does scare the competition and, when he attacks, people panic

Nairo Quintana:
Probably the best climber in the world, this year's route suits Quintana to a tee. There is just one individual timetrial and it's a mere 13.8km long, which should greatly reduce his time losses there. What's more, he tends to come on strong in the final week of Grand Tours, right when most of the mountain stages take place. If Quintana is in contention going into the final week, he will have his rivals worried as the tiny Colombian has the least weight to drag up steep slopes. He proved in winning last year's Giro d'Italia and coming second to Froome in the 2013 Tour that he has what it takes, even at just 25, to claim the most sought-after prize in cycling

Thibaut Pinot:
France has been crying out for a potential Tour contender for years - while braying they would already have had some if the peloton was cleaner - and now they have several genuine hopes. Jean-Christophe Peraud finished second last year but is already 38 and he did so in a field shorn of some of the best. A better prospect is Pinot, who was third last year. He is just 25 and probably the strongest Frenchman in the mountains, while a modest timetrialler - so again, the course suits him. He showed good form in finishing fourth at the Tour of Switzerland where he won the one serious mountain stage, only to come undone in the final timetrial. Should Pinot not be in contention, then Romain Bardet - sixth last year - is another star of the future and he too showed great form in a winning a stage - a mirror image of the Tour's stage 17 - at the Criterium du Dauphine. Final victory might be beyond the French this year, but a podium finish is a realistic goal


See an interactive map of the race with rider profiles, video on race strategy and graphic histories of winners by country and average winner speeds:

Five key stages

Stage 4, July 7: Seraing-Cambrai, 223.5km

After the drama and excitement of 2014's cobbled stage, organisers decided they could not do without them this year. Although there are slightly fewer sections and less overall distance on the cobbles (seven sections and 13.3km compared to nine and 15.4km), they come on the longest stage of the race. And the three previous days will have already provided possible time gaps to be created on the opening timetrial, the potentially windy second stage or the third stage's finish on the brutal Mur (wall) de Huy. Anyone already struggling or haemorrhaging time before hitting the cobbles would be under pressure and at risk of falling out of contention. A crash on the cobbles can result in the loss of several minutes

Stage 9, July 12: Vannes-Plumelec, 28km team timetrial
This team race against the clock is not particularly long but the problem comes from the potential to reach it without a full compliment of teammates. The potential perils on the eight previous stages, including crosswinds, cobbles and the inevitable crashes, mean some contenders might arrive at the team timetrial without a full nine-man team. A team not set up with powerful rouleurs built for timetrialling, that had already lost a couple of riders, would likely lose considerable time

Stage 10, July 14: Tarbes-La Pierre-Saint-Martin, 167km
This is not the toughest mountain stage but it is the first and it comes straight after a rest day. That makes it tricky because some riders don't react well to having their race routine broken up by a rest day. Anyone who needs a couple of days to find their legs again would risk paying dearly on the hors-category finish to La Pierre-Saint-Martin. It's not particularly long so the pace could be high leading into the final climb, meaning anyone having a bad day would be in for a torturous final ascent to the finish

Stage 17, July 22: Digne-les-Bains-Pra Loup, 161km
This is one of two stages where a descent could prove decisive and, with Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador superior descenders to Chris Froome or Nairo Quintana, those two stages could prove critical. The first is stage 11 with a long descent off the Col du Tourmalet before a short third-category climb to the finish. This one has a fast, technical descent off the first-category Col d'Allos before a sharp second-category ride to the line. It's a similar stage to the one at the Criterium du Dauphine where a daring attack from Nibali allowed him to put time into the likes of Froome. The problem is the final climb is so short that there is little chance to make up time lost on the descent. If the weather is bad on top of that, a tentative descent of the Col d'Allos could be costly

Stage 20, July 25: Modane Valfrejus-Alpe d'Huez, 110.5km
This isn't as tough a mountain stage as the previous day's with more climbs to crest but it will be the last-chance saloon. The second-last stage's finish on Alpe d'Huez - having already climbed the Col de la Croix de Fer on a relatively short and punchy 110.5km stage - will give riders one last hope to make a difference. As it's short, the pace should be high and there is no flat section. As it's the last chance to gain time before riding into Paris, the challengers to the overall leader will be forced to give it everything. And the likes of Nibali, Froome and Contador certainly aren't going to settle for consolidating a podium position. Those not in yellow will attack and that could mean fireworks