Christian Prudhomme has designed this year’s Tour to be a “more open, less controlled race, with the aim of rediscovering a form of cycling in the spirit of the five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault”. Let’s take a closer look at some of the more interesting stages.
Stage 1: Düsseldorf 13.8 km ITT
There isn’t much to offer time-trial specialists this year – only 36 km in total, with just one other stage in Marseille. It’s interesting that the tour opens with the individual time-trial for the first time since 2013.
Froome stated that Le Tour 2017 will be a race “that is won or lost in the mountains” this stage could tempt him to stamp his dominance, bury himself, and wear yellow from the very start.
Stage 2: Düsseldorf – Liège 202 km
Everyone has their fingers crossed that Mark Cavendish is able to make Le Tour – just 4 stage wins short of Eddie Merckx record of 34, Cavendish has 9 stages perfectly suited to add to his tally.
Liège offers the first of these opportunities and will feel like a Spring Classic, perfectly set up for a bunch sprint at the end – and you can expect much the same vibe with Stage 3 ending in Longwy.
Stage 12: Pau – Peyragudes 214 km (Summit finish)
Although the final climb to Peyregudes isn’t as iconic as the Tourmalet or Aubisque, it comes at the end of over 200 km of competitive cycling. During this epic stage the peloton will have to manage 5 categorised climbs.
We now know how comfortable Froome is in this setting following his devastatingly effective attack on the descent of Peyresourde in 2016 – if rivals fail to keep up, this could be the tipping point in the race for the yellow jersey.
Stage 17: La Mure – Serre Chevalier 183 km
Featuring the Col du Galibier, this is a punishing start to the 2nd stint in The Alps. In 2015, landslides meant the planned finish was moved from Galibier to Croix-de-Fer, which also features this year.
Whoever leads the stage over the Galibier will win the Prix Henri Desgrange, a fitting honour for getting to the highest point of the race ahead of the pack.
Stage 20: Marseille ITT 23km
The penultimate stage is weird enough to offer a last-minute upset. It’s not unheard of for a time-trial to immediately precede the final stage into Paris, but add to the mix that it features a 17% ascent to La Garde and you better hope your race leader has plenty of fuel left in his tank.
There is a psychological barrier to overcome, especially for Froome who has previously left himself short on energy on at least one occasion. Bonking here will lose you the race.