The Tour's opener occurs to create a first holder of the Yellow Jersey, and also to get the race off to a spectacular start.
Thanks to Chris Boardman and David Millar, this stage has been British property in four of the past seven years.
This year's location ensures that plenty of fans will be able to make their way across the English Channel to cheer on Millar.
He is bidding to emulate last year's thrilling debut, when he won the Yellow Jersey just minutes after his first Tour de France pedal turn.
It will not be easy. Most of the race favourites are capable of winning, as Lance Armstrong did in 1999.
Rik Verbrugghe won the recent Giro d'Italia prologue in record time and the Belgian will have plenty of support just a few miles from the border with his homeland.
Favourites: David Millar (Cofidis), Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto), Laurent Jalabert (CSC-World Online)