In the absence of Chris Froome or Dutchman Tom Domoulin, this is the first Tour in recent memory without a clear favourite. While Team Ineos will still be the reference point, we can expect more teams and riders to go for broke to win the yellow jersey.
Mark Cavendish has started every Tour de France since 2007 but was left on the side-lines by his Dimension Data team this year.
The Manxman has been plagued by the Epstein Barr virus the past couple of seasons and has been nowhere near his former high level.
At 34, the time to achieve his goal of winning a 30th Tour stage is running out.
“Without Chris Froome the Tour is not the same race,” Tour chief Christian Prudhomme said. Love him or hate him the four time champion has left his mark on the race over the last decade and his absence will be felt for better or worse.
Not since 1986 has a French rider won the Tour. The likes of Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot are in with a shout to follow the legendary Bernard Hinault, though a podium place is a more realistic prospect.
Dan Martin has had an unspectacular but consistent year. With fewer time-trials and a brutally hard final week in the mountains, this could be his best ever chance to get on the podium.