The 100th Tour de France kicked off under sunny skies on Saturday on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, with Britain’s Team Sky the favourite to win the iconic race for a second consecutive year.

This is the first time the Tour is being routed through Corsica, known as the Island of Beauty in France for its mountainous interior and picture-postcard beaches.

The first 213-kilometre stage takes the peloton across the island from Porto-Vecchio in the south to Bastia in the north, via the coast.

Bradley Wiggins, the first Briton to win the Tour in 2012, is among the notable absences at the centenary edition, which will cover 3,404 kilometres before a sprint finish on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on July 21.

Team Sky captain Chris Froome is hoping to pick up where Wiggins left off. Froome already boasts several wins this year, including the Tour de Romandie, and was second hehind Wiggins at the 2012 Tour.

His main rivals include 2011 winner Cadel Evans of Australia and ex-champion Alberto Contador of Spain, who was stripped of the 2010 title for doping.

In total, 198 riders are competing in the Tour, which is made up of 21 stages, including two ascents of the Alpe d’Huez peak on the 18th stage.

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