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Tour de France: How Marcel Kittel, Mark Cavendish and the other sprinters compare

Marcel Kittel wins the 2016 Schledeprijs ahead of Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel

The nine sprint stages in this year’s Tour de France are made up of five pan-flat finishes and four with small climbs in the final few kilometres.

Here, we pick out the riders who could challenge for stage wins and assess their credentials…

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Age: 28.
Team: Etixx - Quick-Step.
Nationality: German.
Number of sprint wins in 2016: Nine.
Number of Tour de France stage wins: Eight.

Marcel Kittel wins stage two of the 2016 Giro d'Italia

Without wanting to put a dampener on the sprints at the Tour, there is a real danger of them being non-contests if Kittel maintains the untouchable form he has been in so far this year. Even by his own standards, the manner in which the German has repeatedly blown his rivals away to win by huge margins has been stunning. Winning all five of the pan-flat stages in this year's Tour, plus some of the others, is not out of the realm of possibility if he stays fit.


Age: 31.
Team: Dimension Data.
Nationality: British.
Number of sprint wins in 2016: Three.
Number of Tour de France stage wins: 26.

Mark Cavendish of Great Britain and Dimension Data crosses the line to win stage one of the 2016 Tour of Qatar

Several question marks hang over Cavendish at the Tour, the most pertinent two being whether he will complete the race and what his form will be like? The reason for both is he will race in the omnium at the Olympic Games and has spent much of his year training not on the road, but on the track. What impact that will have on his top-end sprint speed remains to be seen, and if things aren't going well, there is a chance he could leave the Tour early to start preparing for Rio. Whatever happens, one stage win this year might be seen as a decent outcome.


Age: 33.
Team: Lotto Soudal.
Nationality: German.
Number of sprint wins in 2016: Eight.
Number of Tour de France stage wins: 10.

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Andre Greipel, Giro d'Italia 2016, stage seven

The years pass but Greipel doesn't seem to get any slower and is enjoying another prolific season. Like everyone else, he will find it tough head to head against Kittel, but if other opportunities present themselves, he is unlikely to pass them up. Greipel has won stages in each of his last 10 grand tours, dating back to 2008, and it would not be a surprise if he extended that run to 11.


Age: 28.
Team: Katusha.
Nationality: Norway.
Number of sprint wins in 2016: Eight.
Number of Tour de France stage wins: Two.

Alexander Kristoff, Tour of Oman 2016, stage six

Kristoff has been the joint-second most prolific sprinter of the season after Kittel, although he has won only three times since mid-February. As well as the five flat finishes on this year's Tour, Kristoff can also get over climbs, so he could fare well on the hillier sprints.


Age: 26.
Team: Tinkoff.
Nationality: Slovakian.
Number of sprint wins in 2016: Three.
Number of Tour de France stage wins: Five.

Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff poses for a photo on the podium following stage seven of the Amgen Tour of California

Sagan is in good form, having won two sprints at the Tour of California in May and then two more Tour de Suisse in June. He will be particularly excited about the slightly uphill sprints, as well as the classics-style rolling finishes in this year's race. Sagan is so versatile and consistent that it wouldn't be a surprise to see him finishing in the top three on as many as eight or nine stages.


Age: 25.
Team: Orica-GreenEdge.
Nationality: Australian.
Number of sprint wins in 2016: Two.
Number of Tour de France stage wins: None.

Michael Matthews of Australia and Orica GreenEDGE retains the yellow jersey following Stage 5 of the 2016 Paris-Nice

Matthews is similar to Sagan in that he will target the hillier sprints rather than the pan-flat finishes, where he stands virtually no chance against Kittel. Matthews has not raced a great deal so far in 2016 and isn't having a prolific season, but one of his wins was an impressive victory over the likes of Greipel, Kristoff and Nacer Bouhanni at Paris-Nice.


Age: 29.
Team: Dimension Data.
Nationality: Norwegian.
Number of sprint wins in 2016: Four.
Number of Tour de France stage wins: Two.

Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway and Dimension Data celebrates winning stage two of the 2016 Tour of Oman

Boasson Hagen's primary role on the pan-flat sprint stages will be to lead out Cavendish, but he could get licence to challenge for wins himself on the hillier finishes. Boasson Hagen has been in excellent form this year and looked particularly sharp when beating riders such as Bouhanni, Jens Debusschere, John Degenkolb and Julian Alaphilippe to win a stage of the Criterium du Dauphine in June.


Age: 27.
Team: Giant-Alpecin.
Nationality: German.
Number of sprint wins in 2016: None.
Number of Tour de France stage wins: None.

John Degenkolb of Germany riding for Team Giant-Alpecin prepares for the start of stage one of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California

Degenkolb is an unknown quantity in sprinting terms given that he has missed much of the season so far with the injuries he sustained when a car ploughed into a group he was riding in during the winter. He has three top 10s from the two stage races he has taken part in this year, but he will need a big improvement if he is to challenge for wins at the Tour. The hillier, classics-style sprint stages will suit him best.


Age: 29.
Team: BMC Racing.
Nationality: Belgian.
Number of sprint wins in 2016: Two.
Number of Tour de France stage wins: One.

Greg Van Avermaet wins stage six of the 2016 Tirreno-Adriatico ahead of Peter Sagan

Van Avermaet is more of a classics rider than a sprinter, but the rolling "flat" stages could bring him into play. He specialises in sprints with climbs to the finish line and should go head to head with Sagan on those kind of days. On the pan-flat days, he has a fast finish but nowhere near quick enough to worry the likes of Kittel.

Other sprinters to keep an eye on: Davide Cimolai (Lampre-Merida), Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18), Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), Simon Gerrans (Orica-BikeExchange).

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