Who is the favourite to win the Tour de France?

Cycling's most famous race begins on Saturday

Who is the favourite to win the Tour de France?

Picture by: PA Wire / PA Archive/Press Association Images

21 stages long and over 3,500 kilometres in distance, the Tour de France begins on Saturday with a handful of cyclists hoping to claim the yellow jersey on the Champs Elysees on July 24th.

Ireland will be represented in the race by Dan Martin and Sam Bennett. Both men will be hoping for stage wins, with Martin hoping to break into the top 20 for the first time by the time the peloton reach Paris.

Here are three of the main contenders to watch out for over the next three weeks in France, Spain, Andorra and Switzerland.

Chris Froome

The two-time Champion is looking to defend his title for the first time. In 2014, he crashed out of the race during his first defence. The Team Sky rider has had a successful year building up to try and defend his crown.

A defence of the Criterium du Dauphine bodes well for the 31-year-old. Each time he has won the week long event, he has gone on to claim the maillot jaune in Paris.

Quintana and Froome during the 2015 Tour de France. Picture by: Laurent Cipriani / AP/Press Association Images

Nairo Quintana

The Colombian has competed in the Tour de France on two occasions, and finished second to Froome each time. A former Giro d'Italia winner, Quintana's strengths will be seen in the Alps and Pyrenees.

Still only 26, Quintana won the white jersey for the best young rider during the 2013 and 2015 races. He may not have a better chance to finally grab the glory in Paris.

Thilbaut Pinot

France have not had a winner of its national race since Bernard Hinalut was triumphant in 1985. Pinot is by far France's best chance in 2016.

In 2014, he finished third overall but has had a impressive 2016. Top five finishes in the Tour de Romandie and the Tour of the Basque Country have helped the FDJ rider prepare excellently for the race.

Other Contenders

Riders like former champion Alberto Contador should never be discounted. He has had an impressive 2013, but at 33-years-old, he is the oldest of the contenders.

Richie Porte has worked as an able assistant to Froome in recent years, but has left Team Sky to become a team leader. The Australian has yet to break the top-ten in the Tour de France, but will hope to do so this year.