There's lots to be looking forward to

With the Tour Down Under already underway in Australia, the WorldTour is up and running for 2017. And what a year it’s going to be, with plenty of reasons to get excited about the upcoming season.

Interesting early stage races

Nairo Quintana in action during stage five of the 2015 Tirreno-Adriatico

Both Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico have presented classic routes for 2017, with both dominated by a major summit finish, but also packing in lumpy stages and time trials to attract every sort of rider.

Assuming the summit finishes aren’t ruined by poor weather, this will be a great chance to see the major GC contenders in early season action, helping to build anticipation for the Grand Tours later in the year

Not just the Peter Sagan show

Peter Sagan in the 2016 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that Peter Sagan is the man to beat in the spring Classics, but if all his contenders know this too, then we could see some really interesting tactics play out.

Especially if Sagan dominates in the week containing Dwars Door Vlaanderen, E3 Harelbeke, and Ghent-Wevelgem, then some alliances may appear among his rivals come the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

Bumper Giro start list

Like it or not, the Giro d’Italia always seems to play second fiddle to the Tour de France, with a start list that may only boast a couple of big GC names.

However its the 100th edition in 2017, and as such there is an astonishingly strong Giro d’Italia start list, with Nairo Quintana, Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru, Tejay van Garderen and Geraint Thomas all likely to head to the start line in Sardinia.

British interest in Italy

Geraint Thomas will have a chance to ride for himself at the 2017 Giro

From a British point of view, it will be great to see how Geraint Thomas can get on at the Giro d’Italia, where looks likely to be given joint leadership of Team Sky with Mikel Landa.

Last year there were no Brits on the start list, so however Thomas fares it will be an improvement on last year, but really he must be hoping for top 10 at the very least.

Interesting Tour route

The Tour de France route can have quite a formulaic look, but ASO have really shaken things up in 2017, with very few time trial kilometres and no fewer than five mountain ranges.

The race map looks like a plate of spaghetti, and hopefully the racing will be just as unpredictable with a great mix of summit finishes and lumpy medium mountain stages.

Can Cavendish topple Merckx?

Mark Cavendish Tour de France

Mark Cavendish wins Stage one of the 2016 Tour de France (Watson)

Away from the GC men, Mark Cavendish is now just four stage wins away from equalling Eddy Merckx as the leading Tour stage winner of all time.

There are likely to be six or seven stages that Cavendish will be targetting, and although he is likely to face competition from the likes of Sagan, Marcel Kittel and new kid on the block Caleb Ewan, if there’s one thing we learned from the 2016 Tour, it’s to never write off Cav.

Vuelta/Tour double for Froome?

Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome on stage 14 of the 2016 Vuelta a España

Chris Froome hasn’t yet confirmed his participation in the Vuelta a España, but it’s no secret that the three-time Tour de France winner would love to win the race where he was finished second on three occasions.

Last year he was thwarted by Nairo Quintana, but with the Colombian eyeing up a Grand Tour double of his own (the Giro and Tour) we can’t wait to see if there is anyone who can come in the way of Froome claiming two races that have not been won by the same rider in the same year since 1978.

The World Championships aren’t in Qatar

We can be guaranteed a more interesting race than in 2016 (Photo: Yuzuru Sunada)

Those seven hours that you spent in front of the TV watching the pan-flat race around the Qatari desert are seven hours that you will never get back, so thank God the UCI has given us a lumpy course in Bergen, Norway for 2017.

And what a course it is, with the men tackling the finishing circuit 12 times, including the short but steep Salmon Hill, which is hard enough to attract the climbers, but not too tough that the Classics riders will be put off.