Yes, unlike our beloved Giro and Vuelta, where sprints are what you do before you get on with the *real* racing, the Tour de France is a veritable playground for the sugared-up irrepressible adrenalin-junkie fast kids, with a good 1/3 of the Tour to get their speed on. Also in the mix: the green "points" or sprinter's jersey, which Peter Sagan better win because even though it's lame compared to the maillot jaune Oleg Tinkov wants *some* return on investment on his showy one-boy money pit. So who's going for glory? These guys!
Mark Cavendish: the Manx Missile's had only a so-so season, and frankly seems a bit dispirited since his 2014 season-long thrashing by Marcel Kittel, but Cav looked on grand form last year for July before crashing out with a dislocated shoulder in the 2014 Tour. Result? The man is out for *revenge*, and even without his intimidating palmares and low bull!@#$ tolerance from other riders, a pissed-off Cav is liable to chew your head off right along with your legs as he takes out his anger to the line. Just so's the rest of you stay out of biting range of those big teeth you oughta survive the sprints--better a lost stage than a lost body part, for sure!
Andre "the Gorilla" Greipel: he's big, he's strong, and the Lurch o' the peloton, tho' low-key, can still stomp out a win (and accidentally his rivals) under his big carcass without even noticing. Plus, his squad's been on fine form this season. We love you, ya big lug--I'm sure there's at least one stage win in your near future!
Nacer Bouhanni: oh, sure, he *just* hit the deck hard--so hard he had to pose butt-nekkid as a jaybird to prove it. But he's decided to do the Tour de France anyway, he had a smashing early season, and who needs a properly functioning "ribcage" or "cartilage" to, y'know, breathe enough to sprint? If he can hang on long enough to really heal up, hell yes there's hope!
Tyler Farrar: shut up! Can so either!
Michael "Bling" Matthews: has this kid been having a *season*, or what? He's obliterated the field in half the races this part of the season, and has an excellent lead out to boot. Go Bling!
Peter Sagan: he can climb, he can sprint, he can cost Oleg Tinkov 4.3 million euro--but what he *can't* do is justify his wormlike existence to vengeful team boss King Oleg after blowing his highly-touted and clearly overhyped Classics season. So will the Saganator have the mental fortitude to hold it together in the Tour, particularly with his squad's (!@#damn well better be) focus on Contador grabbing the whole Tour? Well, Peter's been doing pretty well again lately--but then, it apparently helps when he's separated from Oleg by a good coupla continents, and if Alberto does well, you *know* Tinkov's gonna be there for 24/7 yellow jersey photobombs!
The 'Nother Guys: yeah, there's Boassen Haagen Dazs, Degenkolb, and a handful of other cobbles-friendly strongmen, but pure sprints aren't necessarily their thing. But if they can ditch Cav out the autobus on some of those hilly midsections, there's room to play for other boys!
Out: Cav archrival--and best competitor--2014 bad-!@# Marcel "the Hair" Kittel, and reportedly so ticked about it he's trying to leave Giant "Doping for Hair" (a slogan discreetly dropped for the Tour) Alpecin. Yep, as with Nibs' 2014 GC win, every 2015 sprint victory'll always seem a little bit unearned--and Cav, now you got *no* excuses!
Well, we got the roleurs and climbeurs still left to go--and then, it's on to the Tour!