Froome and Cavendish aiming to bounce back in Le Tour

Even if Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish crash out in the first week again, the 2015 Tour de France will be compelling viewing.

Chris Froome.

Froome, who abandoned the race during the fifth stage after three crashes in two days when defending his title 12 months ago, is vying to reclaim the yellow jersey he won in 2013.

Cavendish, after crashing out in pursuit of the maillot jaune in his mother’s home-town of Harrogate last July, will be bidding to prove his durability as the sport’s sprint king.

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There could be another eight Britons and a few Irishmen to sustain partisan interest as 2014 winner Vincenzo Nibali, Giro d’Italia winner Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana slug it out on the Pyrenean peaks and Alpine ascents where the race is won.

It could all come down to the climb of Alpe d’Huez on the penultimate day – and Britons will hope Froome is there and in contention.

Four Britons started the 101st edition in Leeds, but only Geraint Thomas reached Paris.

Froome will hope to emulate his showing of 2013, when he became the second British winner in two years, succeeding Sir Bradley Wiggins.

The Kenya-born rider won Tour warm-up, the Criterium du Dauphine, and will hope to carry that form to the start of the prologue on July 4 in Utrecht.

Froome insisted his Tour win would stand the test of time when he made his podium address by the Champs-Elysees in Paris, having been subjected to scrutiny and innuendo throughout his stint in yellow. The spectre of performance-enhancing drug use is never far from cycling and the Tour.

Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his record seven titles from 1999 to 2005 for doping, will be riding the roads of France once again this summer.

Armstrong is to ride part of the route alongside former England footballer Geoff Thomas one day ahead of the peloton, fund-raising for Cure Leukaemia.

The American last rode the Tour in 2009 and 2010, when Cavendish was dominating the sprints.

The Manx Missile, 30, has won 25 Tour stages, nine short of Eddy Merckx’s record of 34.

When Cavendish won four stages in 2008, six in 2009, then five in 2010 and 2011, it seemed only a matter of time before he would beat Merckx’s mark. But the emergence of German Marcel Kittel has tested him to the full.

Cavendish had limited opportunity when riding for Team Sky in 2012 as Wiggins sought overall victory, but in 2013 he won two stages to Kittel’s four.

The German won four more in 2014, the first earning him a second successive opening stage yellow jersey as Cavendish suffered a separated shoulder.

Cavendish has nearly as many wins as Kittel has race days this season due to the German’s illness.

In Kittel’s absence, Cavendish will still have to fight off the likes of John Degenkolb and Alexander Kristoff to claim wins and the points classification’s green jersey he won in 2011.

It will be intriguing if Froome and Cavendish can show their enduring powers this July.