Don't mention the war! TdF starts with a bang

Bizarre scenes at the team presentation for the 2016 Tour de France as riders were delivered to the ceremony by means of Second World War military vehicles. 

It didn't stop there - the whole thing was a trip back in time to, presumably, the D-Day landings on June 6 1944 when host region Normandy became the gateway to the rest of Europe for the allied forces as they attempted to push back the occupying Germans.

Not so much as a finger was raised in anger this time round as the event took on more of a VE Day celebratory feel with dancers in period dress and the like.

The fact that the 103rd Tour de France is made up of a multinational field with more than a few Germans didn't seem to worry the authorities in Normandy - they had after all spent €1.3 million on this spectacle, and when your best marketing tool happens to be the most decisive battle of the Second World War, what else are you going to show people? Cheese? 

“You have to look at the financial benefit to the local economy — it’s four to five times the level of investment,” Philippe Bas, president of the Manche department told Velonews.

It's something of a gamble for the Manche, which in total has invested €2.6 million in the Tour. It is expecting four million viewers to tune in, which is why it wheeled out the big guns. Whether that four million are as interested in the war as the Manche remains to be seen.

The riders of course took it all in their stride, despite more than a few bemused expressions as they trundled through the streets of Mont Saint-Michel.

They are keeping their powder dry for the weeks that lay ahead.