This Tour's spectacular start will separate the men from the boys. The inaugural time trial of 15 kilometres is already long enough to make the favourites show themselves, especially since a part of the route will lead the riders up the coastal hills and into the hinterland of the glamorous city. It is a demanding, technical route with several particularly steep climbs, including a 10 percent incline.
The descent is slightly technical with a right hand hairpin at the 4km-mark, as well as four tight curves to master just before the riders hit the seafront straight to the finish in the old harbour.
Just like Formula 1 racers, the riders will start their dash at the Formula 1 Grand Prix starting line before entering the Tunnel and launching into the home stretch on the famous route de la Piscine.
Jonathan Vaughters' views
Not a prologue at all, this 15.5 km hilly and technical effort will take 20 minutes or so to complete. It will give a better indication as to who can compete on GC than a typical prologue and even more than a typical flatter time trial.
This will be a test of skill, climbing ability, time trial prowess, and judgment - all abilities one needs to win the Tour. Who are my favourites? Alberto Contador is who'd I'd pick, but I'm sure a very on form Fabian Cancellara and a very skinny Brad Wiggins will be in the mix. Look carefully at the top 10, and you'll see many a name that you'll be seeing a lot of for the next 3 weeks.