The top 10 contenders for this year's Tour de France 'maillot jaune'

The Tour de France starts Saturday in Normandy, with the first stage running from Mont Saint-Michel to Utah Beach. The opening stage will most likely be fought out by the sprinters, but the big prize is the yellow jersey -- maillot jaune -- for the overall winner when the race ends in Paris on July 24.

Here are the Top 10 contenders to win the 103rd Tour.

Chris Froome

Nationality: British
Team: Team Sky (U.K.)
Date of birth: May 20, 1985 (31)
Race number: 1
Best Tour results: 1st: 2013, 2015; 2nd: 2012

Strength: As a two-time champion, Froome knows how to win and has learned from past experience. He has terrific power-to-weight ratio for climbing and is also strong in time trials, especially on the routes set out for the two races against the clock in this year's Tour. Has an exceptionally strong team -- he says possibly the strongest Sky have ever picked for a Tour.

Weakness: Has had a tendency to fall ill in the last week of races. That is not uncommon for any Tour rider, but for one leading, it is a tenuous and potentially race-costing situation. Froome has been able to mask illness, but his rivals will now be looking closer for signs they may have otherwise missed -- especially Nairo Quintana, who left his run too late last year.

Nairo Quintana

Nationality: Colombian
Team: Movistar (Spain)
Date of birth: February 4, 1990 (26)
Race number: 11
Best Tour results: 2nd: 2013, 2015

Strength: A pure climber whose danger for Froome was shown on last year's last mountain stage to Alpe d'Huez, where he beat the Briton by 1 minute, 20 seconds. Crucially, he is now a far better time trialist, too. A tough-as-teak leader whose team is one of the strongest and totally devoted to him.

Weakness: Potential inattentiveness or weak spots. This arguably cost him the Tour last year. He lost 1 minute, 28 seconds to Froome on Stage 2 (which was more than the 1:12 margin by which he lost the Tour) and another 1:04 on Stage 10 in the Pyrenees. He said he has since trained to avert a repeat.

Alberto Contador

Nationality: Spanish
Team: Tinkoff (Russia)
Date of birth: December 6, 1982 (33)
Race number: 31
Best Tour results: 1st: 2007, 2009; 4th: 2013; 5th: 2015, 2011

Strength: Contador is one of the most credentialed grand tour riders with seven wins in three-week races, including two Tours, so he knows what it takes. He is also one of the most aggressive riders in the sport, unafraid to attack over and over in a bid to crack his rivals. His sheer hunger to win and endure pain is relentless, even when his back is against the wall.

Weakness: He denies age is catching up with him, but signs are that younger riders are still coming up, which will make life tougher. He may love to attack, but does he have the knockout punch in him? His team is also not of the calibre of Sky or Movistar, so he may find himself outnumbered in the Pyrenees and Alps. Also, he comes into the Tour off a cold.

Richie Porte

Nationality: Australian
Team: BMC Racing Team (U.S.)
Date of birth: January 30, 1985 (31)
Race number: 91
Best Tour results: 19th: 2013; 23rd: 2014

Strength: Facing his first opportunity to ride as an overall contender -- as BMC co-leader with American Tejay van Garderen. A strong climber and time trialist. Fresher and fitter than ever from slow boil to his July peak. Inside knowledge of former teammate Froome. Strong team, with four in BMC's lineup who helped Australian Cadel Evans win the 2011 Tour.

Weakness: Lack of experience as a Tour team leader, and vulnerability to suffer a bad day through illness or even mishap that can see him lose too much time to remain in contention. As BMC's two-pronged attack with van Garderen may be a strength, it could be costly if the two riders don't have clarity over priorities by the third week. Team Sky's inside knowledge of Porte could work against him, too.

Fabio Aru

Nationality: Italian
Team: Astana (Kazakhstan)
Date of birth: July 3, 1990 (25) Astana
Race number: 21
Best Tour results: Tour debut

Strength: Super climber, inspired by his Tour debut. Showed what he can do in last year's Giro d'Italia, winning two mountain stages to finish second overall, and the Vuelta a Espana, which he won. Maybe not the best of time trialists, but he can hold his own on his day. In Vincenzo Nibali, he also has an excellent teammate to tap into for support work and advice.

Weakness: Lack of experience at the Tour, from the sheer madness of the race and all that is around it to the pressure that comes with expectations. Vulnerable in time trialling, and the danger of Nibali finding himself better placed despite saying he is racing to help Aru after winning this year's Giro.

Tejay van Garderen

Nationality: American
Team: BMC Racing Team (U.S.)
Date of birth: August 12, 1988 (27)
Race number: 99
Best Tour results: 5th: 2014, 2012 (1st in young rider classification in 2012)

Strength: Not generally an attacking rider, but still a great climber who can follow the pace up front on mountains well and limit losses when the attacks begin. Also knows what it's like in the top overall classification with two fifth-place finishes. With Porte as co-leader, the pressure will not always be on him. Like Porte, has a strong, experienced team to help.

Weakness: While he can defend under attack, he lacks winning kick to go when racing for overall classification (his mountain stage win in the Tour de Suisse with a solo move on the last climb to finish came after he fell out of overall contention). As with Porte, for all the positives of their co-leadership, it could still be problematic if there is not clarity come the third week.

Thibaut Pinot

Nationality: French
Team: FDJ (France)
Date of birth: May 29, 1990 (26)
Race number: 121
Best Tour results: 3rd: 2014; 10th: 2012; 16th: 2015

Strength: Has developed into a climber who is able not only to follow the best, but to beat them. That reflects his growing strength as well as his confidence as an overall contender. As with a previous weakness of descending, he has improved his time trialling, with time trial wins in this year's Criterium International and Tour de Romandie.

Weakness: Has to deal with the pressure that any cyclist touted as potentially the first French winner since Bernard Hinault in 1985 faces. His team has for the first time selected a team devoted to him, but has it the experience let alone ability to provide the support he will need to maximize his chances?

Vincenzo Nibali

Nationality: Italian
Team: Astana (Kazakhstan)
Date of birth: November 14, 1984 (31)
Race number: 22
Best Tour results: 1st: 2014; 3rd: 2012; 4th: 2015; 7th: 2009

Strength: Nibali's ability as a grand tour racer is beyond reproach. He is one of best climbers and descenders and is also excellent on the flatter and hillier courses. His desire to attack is akin to Contador's. Will be buoyed by winning the Giro d'Italia. Also, he will also have no pressure on him to win, as his role is to help Aru. But if Aru fails, he has nothing to lose.

Weakness: His freshness after racing so hard in the Giro that finished on May 29. It is now generally thought that the Giro-Tour double is not possible. His support role aside, if Aru falls short and he becomes Plan B, will he have the strength to pull it off? Relative to his strengths, time trialling is one area he is less credentialed in.

Romain Bardet

Nationality: French
Team: Ag2r (France)
Date of birth: Nov. 9, 1990 (25)
Best Tour results: 6th: 2014; 9th: 2015; 15th: 2013
Race number: 41

Strength: Excellent climber who, like Bardet, has fed off the growing confidence gained from his development as a Tour racer since his sixth-place finish in 2014 when his teammate Jean-Christophe Peraud placed second. Other pluses are his race intelligence and knowing he can overcome adversity, as he did last year from a problematic start to win the 18th stage.

Weakness: Time trialling is his Achilles' heel against the ilk of his Tour rivals. That is not to mean he can't limit his losses or that he is downplaying the importance of time trialling. But what he does lose in the discipline is costly for any rider that wants to make the podium or win. Not a fan of flat stages, and also reportedly does not back up from rest days so well.

Dan Martin

Nationality: Irish
Team: Etixx-QuickStep (Belgium)
Date of birth: August 20, 1986 (29)
Best Tour results: 33rd: 2013; 35th: 2012; 39th: 2015
Race number: 185

Strength: A rider with super climbing ability, attacking instinct and a huge engine. Can read a race well, especially toward the pointy end of a race. He is becoming well experienced as as a grand tour rider, of which this Tour will mark his 10th start in one of cycling's three three-week races.

Weakness: Time trialling is an area he must work on with a view to the future. However, his deficiencies here will be limited by the two time trials courses this year suiting him. Has had his fair share of crashes and health setbacks. He can ill afford them over a race as long and intense as the Tour.