Paris - Tour
de France organisers on Tuesday unveiled a 2017 course light on
mountain climbs but reigning champion Chris Froome insisted they would
still be key to his bid for a fourth title.
The visually spectacular 104th race over 3 516km starts in Dusseldorf, Germany on July 1 with the traditional time
trial. There are five real mountain stages, fewer than in 2016.
"This Tour will be won in the mountains, the time trials are too
small to have any real effect," said Froome, winner in 2013, 2015 and
Tour director Christian Prudhomme said the route "has been designed
to be won by a true champion", without naming Froome or identifying any
Puncher Dan Martin said he felt the route brought him into the picture.
"There's plenty of scope for damage every single day. You have to survive," the Irishman told AFP.
"This route is better suited to my style than previous years."
The opening 13km time trial offers world champion time-triallist Tony
Martin the chance to clinch the yellow jersey on stage one as the Tour
starts from his native Germany for the first time in 30 years.
The northern start means the route has to be 'J' shaped, and this
year misses the north and west of France entirely, said Prudhomme.
With nine varied flat stages, five hilly ones designed to open up the
challenge, the five real mountain stages are designed to have a visual
backdrop which will amplify the exploits of the athletes who excel
And if the crucial penultimate day's time trial starting at the
Marseille Velodrome football stadium is only 23km long, it will be run
in searing heat and feature a 1km stretch at 18 percent gradient.
Contrary to nearly all the preceding Tours there will never be more than two consecutive days of climbing either.
The Tour's toughest stage on paper is
the 214km Pyrenean run from Pau to Peyragudes which feature the mountain
where the James Bond movie 'Tomorrow Never Dies' was partly filmed, and
has a summit finish as the fifth climb of the day.
In total contrast, the following day's stage 13 is a short but
spectacular 100km mountain run from Saint Girons culminating in a 27km
hair-raising descent to Foix, featuring extreme climbs and descents
along the way.
This is followed with a day for punchers and will evoke powerful
memories for both the Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet and world road
champion Peter Sagan. The 181km 14th stage culminates in Rodez where
the Belgian out-paced Sagan for a stage win in 2015.
But even in the first week there will be stages for rollers,
sprinters, testing cross-wind infested plains, and on day five the
Planches Des Belles Filles where Bradley Wiggins took the yellow jersey
in 2012 on a day Froome won the stage.
"I was delighted to see it on the race again," said Froome. There's
not enough to make a great deal of time there, but it makes me happy to
see it there."
There was further good news for Froome when it was announced that
around 10km of mountain terrain, at crucial tactical climb points, would
be stripped of roadside fans. An accident caused by packed crowds on
Mont Ventoux in 2016 saw him run part way to the summit having abandoned
a broken bike.
The two Alpine stages on day 17 and 18 finish at the summit of the
Izoard, whose lunar summit finish is at 2 360m where oxygen will be
"It looks pretty impressive," said Froome. "I've never raced there, we'll need to climb it in practice."
The most watched of all the stages by television audiences is the
final day jaunt to Paris and the 10 laps of the Champs Elysees generally
won by a top sprinters such as Mark Cavendish or Andre Greipel or Marcel
The 2017 Tour de France will cover 3 516km starting from
Dusseldorf on July 1 and finishing in Paris three weeks later:
Stage 1: July 1, Dusseldorf (GER)- Dusseldorf 13km Individual time
Stage 2: July 2, Dusseldorf - Liege (BEL) 202km
Stage 3: July 3, Verviers (BEL) - Longwy (FRA) 202km
Stage 4: July 4, Mondorf Led Bains - Vittel 203km
Stage 5: July 5, Vittel - La Planche Des Belles Filles 160km
Stage 6: July 6, Vesoul - Troyes 216km
Stage 7: July 7, Troyes - Nuits-Saint-Georges 214km
Stage 8: July 8, Dole Station Des Rousses 187km
Stage 9: July 9, Natua - Chambery 181km
Rest day: July 10
Stage 10: July 11, Periguex - Bergerac 178km
Stage 11: July 12, Eymet - Pau 202km
Stage 12: July 13, Pau - Peyragoudes 214km
Stage 13: July 14, Saint Girons - Foix 100km
Stage 14: July 15, Blagnac - Rodez 181km
Stage 15: July 16, Laissac-Severac L'Eglise Le Puy en Velay 189km
Second rest day: July 17
Stage 16: Le Puy en Velay - Romans Sur Isere 165km
Stage 17: July 19, La Mure - Serre Chevalier 183km
Stage 18: July 20, Briancon - Izoard 178
Stage 19: July 21, Embrun - Salon de Provence 220km
Stage 20: July 22, Marseille - Marseille 23km Individual time trial
Stage 21: July 23, Montgeron - Paris Champs-Elyees, 105km