2013 - Four stage wins for Marcel Kittel.
Joint leaders: German sprinting machines Marcel Kittel, who wore both yellow and green jerseys in the 2013 Tour and who beat Mark Cavendish time and time again, and John Degenkolb, who takes on tougher unconventional sprints.
Changes since 2013:
Argos-Shimano becomes Giant-Shimano. Cheng Ji, who will become the first Chinese rider to compete in the event, is one of two diesel-engined 'controllers' who drive the initial stages of the finish before the sprint begins, as explained in Giant-Shimano's helpful guide to their sprint formations. Belgian Dries Devenyns will also be racing in his first Tour.
After last year's showing, the obscenely powerful Kittel is the man to beat in the pure bunch sprints for stage wins. Moustachioed compatriot Degenkolb is more suited to endurance-based sprints after a hard day in the saddle, where the finish may be slightly uphill or after a late climb.
In his second tour, Tom Dumoulim, who will be wearing the stripes of the Dutch national champion, will be looking at the late individual time trial.
The full nine:
Marcel Kittel (Germany), John Degenkolb (Germany), Roy Curvers (Netherlands), Dries Devenyns (Belgium), Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands), Koen De Kort (Netherlands), Albert Timmer (Netherlands), Tom Veelers (Netherlands) and Cheng Ji (China).