Grand Départ of the 2018 Tour de France. Image: ASO

Grand Départ of the 2018 Tour de France. Image: ASO

Dates: July 7-29, 2018
Grand Départ:
 Noirmoutier-en-l’Île, Vendée
Paris, France
TV coverage (UK):
Eurosport, ITV4

The full Tour de France 2018 route was announced on Tuesday October 17.

The route will include an ascent of the Alpe d’Huez plus sections on the Paris-Roubaix cobbles which have not been visited since 2015 – and there will also be a short and sharp 65km stage in the Pyrénées.

The first three stages of the 2018 Tour de France will take place in Vendée. Two road opening stages will be followed by a 35 kilometre time trial.

The race will then head into Brittany, and the first uphill finish will take place on stage six on the Mûr de Bretagne on stage six.

Stage nine is expected to be a pivotal day, with a 154km route including 21.7km of cobbles, with a finish in Roubaix. Next there will be three days in the mountains, including a stage featuring Alpe d’Huez,

Moving to the Pyrénées the race will feature several more summit finishes, as well as a very short stage 17, at 65km finishing atop the Col-de-Portet.

The queen stage will be stage 19 – a 200km route taking in the Col d’Aspin, Col du Tourmalet, and Col d’Aubisque.

The penultimate day will feature a time trial of 31km between Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle and Espelette, before the finale parade to the Champs-Élysées.

Read more about the Tour de France route for 2018 here.

Stages of the 2018 Tour de France

Stage Date Start/Finish Distance
1 Saturday, July 7 Noirmoutier-en-l’Île to Fontenay-le-Comte 189km
2 Sunday, July 8 Mouilleron-Saint-Germain to La Roche-sur-Yon 183km
3 Monday, July 9 Cholet to Cholet 35km (TTT)
4 Tuesday, July 10 La Baule to Sarzeau 192km
5 Wednesday, July 11 Lorient to Quimper 203km
6 Thursday, July 12 Brest to Mûr de Bretagne 181km
7 Friday, July 13 Fougères to Chartres 231km
8 Saturday, July 14 Dreux to Amiens 181km
9 Sunday, July 15 Arras to Roubaix 154km
Rest Day Monday, July 16 Annecy
10 Tuesday, July 17 Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand 159km
11 Wednesday, July 18 Albertville to La Rosière 108km
12 Thursday, July 19 Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Alpe d’Huez 175km
13 Friday, July 20 Bourg d’Oisans to Valence 169km
14 Saturday, July 21 Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteuax to Mende 187km
15 Sunday, July 22 Millau to Carcassonne 181km
Rest Day Monday, July 23 Carcassonne
16 Tuesday, July 24 Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon 218km
17 Wednesday, July 25 Bagnères-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan/Col-de-Portet 65km
18 Thursday, July 26 Trie-sur-Baïse to Pau 172km
19 Friday, July 27 Lourdes to Laruns 200km
20 Saturday, July 28 Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle to Espelette 31km (ITT)
21 Sunday, July 29 Houilles to Paris 115km

Tour de France: 2017 race

Chris Froome (Team Sky) wins his fourth Tour de France title

Chris Froome (Team Sky) won his fourth Tour title at the 2017 race, rolling in to Paris in the yellow jersey – his nearest rival Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) 54 seconds back with Frenchman Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) over two minutes adrift.

The British rider appeared unshaken by attacks on the final day in the mountains, on stage eighteen, and a third place on the penultimate stage – a time trial in Marseille – sealed the detail.

Previous to a GC shake up on stage seventeen, Froome’s nearest rival had been Fabio Aru (Astana) who put in an explosive attack towards the end of stage 12 to take the yellow jersey.

Aru – with no team mates around him – appeared to struggle from stage 14 onwards.

Before the Italian’s stage 12 attack, Froome (Team Sky), had laid claim to the lead on stage five when a group of GC contenders chased Aru’s winning break on the final climb.

Initially, Geraint Thomas wore yellow having won the opening time trial – he held on to it for several days and looked in strong form for his true role as domestique – but a crash on stage nine saw him out of the race, along with GC contender Richie Porte (BMC).

The battle for the green jersey appeared to be well and truly on after serial wearer Peter Sagan and potential contender Mark Cavendish both left the race. Sagan’s protruding elbow caused the Manxman to crash hard into the race barriers.  The elbow owner was subsequently disqualified from the race whilst Cav’s broken shoulder prevented him from continuing.

However,  a clear leader was appointed in the shape of Marcel Kittel. The German sprinter claimed five wins – on the secondsixthseventh, tenth and eleventh stages, but crashed out on stage seventeen, leaving Michael Matthews of Team Sunweb to take up the mantle.

British rider Simon Yates (Orica Scott) has a firm grasp on the young rider jersey, with a gap of almost three minutes to his nearest rival.

General classification after final stage

1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky, 86-20-55
2. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac, at 54 secs
3. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 2-20
4. Mikel Landa (Esp) Team Sky, at 2-21
5. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, at 3-05
6. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors, at 4-42
7. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott, at 6-14
8. Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates, at 8-20
9. Alberto Contador (Esp) Trek-Segafredo, at 8-49
10. Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Sunweb, at 9-25

Points classification winner: Michael Matthews (Sunweb)

Mountains classification winner: Warren Barguil (Sunweb)

Young rider classification winner: Simon Yates (Orica-Scott)

Team classification: Team Sky

The race as it unfolded

Stage 21 – Montgeron – Paris – 103km

Chris Froome (Team Sky) celebrated his fourth Tour title, finishing the race in Paris with the yellow jersey sitting proudly on his shoulders.

He now needs to be the leader in Paris just once more to equal the record of five, held jointly by Eddy Merckx, Jaques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

The 103km course from Montgeron was largely a celebratory affair for Team Sky, with the win all but confirmed after the stage 20 time trial.

The racing kicked off when the peloton reached the finishing circuit around the Champs-Élysées – with 58km to go. There were early attacks, but all were pulled back – leaving the finish to the sprinters. It wasn’t a formulaic affair, however.

Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) launched from the front – springing from an early lead out train. Riders like Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) and André Greipel gave him just an inch too many, allowing him to take a historic win on the final stage.

Read the full report here 

Stage 20 – Marseille time trial – 22.5km

FROOME Christopher (GBR) Sky, Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

Chris Froome (Team Sky) secured his hold on the yellow jersey with a sensational time trial that almost saw him catch former second place GC rider, Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) who faded and slipped into third place behind Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapacat).

The 22.5km time trial weaved through twisty streets and featured a tough climb midway through – ultimately it was a course that suited Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe) most, with a winning time of 28-15. Froome’s team mate Michal Kwiatkowski finished in second just one second back and Froome himself down by six seconds for third.

With Froome clearly flying, the battle of the day seemed to be between Bardet and Uran – and then Bardet and Mikel Landa – the final result putting Landa just one second behind his French rival in the battle for the third step on the GC podium.

See the full report here 

La Course Stage 2 – Marseille pursuit

Annemiek Van Vleuten wins La Course on Col d’Izoard. Photo: ASO/Bruno BADE

The second stage of La Course was an experimental affair which saw the top 19 finishers of the first stage setting of in intervals representing their finishing times.

Winner on the Izoard, Annemiek Van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) was off first – 43 seconds ahead of Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans).

Whilst Van Vleuten rolled off the ramp in full-speed-attack mode, Deignan soft pedalled – clearly waiting for third and fourth place riders: Elisa Longo-Borghini (Wiggle-High5) and , at Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans). Guarnier had rolled down the ramp 1-28 back, giving the trio quite a deficit to pull back.

Behind, 15 more riders rolled down the ramp – but the real battle was between Deignan’s group and the lone rider. The trio held a gap of 1-40 throughout, dropping Guarnier on the climb and eventually accepting the race for second – a battle won by Deignan with Longo-Borghini third.

See the full report here 

Stage 19 – Embrun – Salon-de-Provence – 222.5km

Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

Edvald Boasson-Hagen broke the curse by sealing a stage win after coming 2nd twice this Tour already.

A quiet day for the GC contenders as a solid breakaway found itself coming into the final kilometres with over 10 minutes lead against the peloton. The breakaway soon split again after Edvald Boasson-Hagen and Nikias Arndt found themselves alone thanks to choosing the correct path around the roundabout.

Then with over 1km to go, the Norwegian attacked leaving Arndt with no response as he soloed to victory on the third last stage of this year’s tour.

Chris Froome and his rivals clearly saved themselves for the penultimate stage in Marseille where the title is set to be decided.

Read the full report from stage 19 of the Tour de France here

Stage 18 – Briançon – Col d’Izoard – 179.5km

Warren Barguil (Sunweb) takes victory on Col d’Izoard (Sunada)

The final day in the mountains saw Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) cement his place as leader of the King of the Mountains competition, with a solo win after a stage characterised by a large break.

Early on, a grand total of 54 riders broke clear. With no GC contenders present, they were allowed to build up a gap of over eight minutes, eventually splitting into two pelotons on the category one climb, Col de Vars.

Towards the top of the climb, Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Darwin Atapuma (UAE), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) splintered from the front of the group – they were eventually caught by six more riders. However, behind them, the GC ridden peloton was hotting up with attacks from the key contenders upping the pace on the slopes of the Izoard.

Barguil attacked from Chris Froome (Team Sky)’s group, building up a lead and going solo. He eventually passed the riders in the break – in the final kilometre he had a lead of a tantalising 25 seconds.

Behind him, attacks continued, with Froome fending off each one to finish fourth on the stage and hold on to the yellow jersey whilst Darwin Atapuma (UAE Team Emirates) took second and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) third.

Read the full report from stage 18 of the Tour de France here 

La Course by Le Tour de France

Annemiek Van Vleuten wins La Course on Col d’Izoard. Photo: ASO/Bruno BADE

The stage was shared today, with the women’s peloton tackling a 67.5km stage that finished atop of the Izoard as part of a two stage La Course.

The race was won by Annemiek Van Vleuten (Orica-Scott), who attacked with 5km to go to take the top spot ahead of British national champion Lizzie Deignan(Boels-Dolman) in second and Italian Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) in third.

The peloton set a fast pace on the undulating roads before the climb, shedding riders from the rear. The first rider to attack was Linda Villumsen (Veloconcept), and behind Deignan led a chase group that caught Villumsen with 9km to go. Deignan’s pace shed more riders from the group, including Boels-Dolmans team mate Megan Guarnier and Women’s Tour winner Katarzyna Niewiadoma (WM3 Energie).

With 4.6km to go,  Van Vleuten attacked, with Deignan, Shara Gillow (FDJ) and Longo Borghini chasing. They never did catch her, leaving the Orica-Scott rider to celebrate with 43 seconds to spare.

Read the full report here 

Stage 17 – La Mure – Serre Chevalier – 183km

ROGLIC Primoz (SLO) Lotto NL – Jumbo, at Col du Galibier
Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

The peloton returned to the tallest mountains of the Alps today – the result being a stunning solo victory for Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo).

In second was Rigobero Uran (Cannondale-Drapac), who edged closer to GC leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) who claimed the third step on the podium on the stage.

The day saw riders ascend the Col d’Ornon,Col de la Croix-de-Fer,  Col du Télégraphe and Col du Galibier – with the steep slopes putting many in trouble.

It was atop of the Galibier that Roglič made his move, attacking and soloing the descent to the line, 1-13 head of Uran.

The green jersey changed hands, with Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors) crashing out of the race and Michael Matthews (Sunweb) taking his place.

Read the full report here 

Stage 16 – Le Puy en Velay – Romans sur Isère – 165km

Michael Matthews wins stage 16 of the 2017 Tour de France (Sunada)

Team Sunweb worked tirelessly to set up Michael Matthews to take the win, which he duly did on a day where crosswinds split the peloton.

Matthews’ Sunweb team mates worked hard on the front, taking green jersey leader Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) out of contention on a third category early on.

Nearing the finish, Daniele Benatti (Movstar) launched a late attack, but Sunweb closed it down and put Matthews in an ideal position in the wheel of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) with 300m remaining.

The GC leaders tried to use the crosswinds to their advantage, with Team Sky aiming to force a split at 16km to go – but in effect they only distanced Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors), who lost 48 seconds to move down the GC.

Stage 15 – Laissac Sévérac l’Église – Le Puy en Velay – 189.5km

Bauke Mollema wins stage 15 of the 2017 Tour de France. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

A tough day for the yellow jersey as Chris Froome found himself distanced from the GC contenders at 40km in, before chasing back on, and then instantaneously suffering a puncture.

Froome was forced to work hard to regain his place in a select group of GC contenders on a hilly stage, but with the help of team mate Mikel Landa was paced back on.

Up ahead, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) attacked from a break group, powering ahead with just 15km to go and building up a reasonable lead. He left the chasers 50 seconds adrift, and the GC group as far back as six and a half minutes.

Mollema raised his hands at the finish, with Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) leading the chasers 19 seconds behind and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) third.

Read the full report here

Stage 14 – Blagnac – Rodez – 181.5km

Chris Froome at the 2017 Tour de France. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

It was yellow again for Chris Froome (Team Sky) as he rolled in 25 seconds ahead of Astana’s Fabio Aru today following a stage win for Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb).

The day’s stage featured two category three climbs: Côte du viaduc du Viaur and Côte de Centrès, and a final uncategorised climb close to the finish.

A break of four went early – with Timo Roosen (LottoNL-Jumbo), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Maxime Bouet (Fortuneo-Oscaro) and Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) working together. They gained two to three minutes, but never more.

The peloton splintered upon arriving at the climbs, with high profile riders including green jersey Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors) dropping off the back. The break was reduced too, with the last rider standing being De Gent.

De Gent continued solo, but it wasn’t to be a breakaway day – and he was swept up at 13km to go. Nearing the finish, teams set themselves up for a sprint – with Matthews crossing the line first.

Froome was nestled in a group just behind, whilst Aru was 25 seconds back, seemingly struggling with the burden of wearing the yellow jersey with few team mates around him.

Read the full report here 

Stage 13 – Saint Girons – Foix – 101km

Warren Barguil wins stage 13 of the 2017 Tour de France. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

A short stage at the tour with three category one climbs, followed by a long descent to Foix. The winner on the day was Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb), who raised his arms at the finish on Bastille Day. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was second to the French man, with Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) in third.

Attacks were always going to go from the gun – in the end multiple breaks were condensed into two clear couples: Contador and Mikel Landa (Team Sky) out front, with Quintana (Movistar) further back with Barguil.

Behind, with a gap of well over two minutes, was a third group that contained yellow jersey Aru and second place rider, Chris Froome.

Eventually Quintana and Barguil closed the gap to Landa and Contador, making a strong, elite group of climbers who were able to keep their distance from the chasers at bout two minutes.

With the climbs dispensed off, the road quickly dropped down. Out front, the group of four worked together to maintain a distance. Behind, Froome and team mate Michal Kwiatkowski did their best to apply pressure to Aru, but the yellow jersey refused to be worked over and maintained his position in the group.

Barguil celebrated his win, and the GC chasers came in 1-39 back, with Froome and Aru neck and neck – leaving the top spots of the overall unaffected, but a fair re-shuffle behind.

Read the full report here

Stage 12 – Pau – Peyragudes – 214.5km

Romain Bardet wins at Peyragudes (Sunada)

Fabio Aru (Astana) became the first rider to take the yellow jersey from the shoulders of Chris Froome after an explosive effort in the final metres of the summit finish saw him distance the Team Sky rider.

The stage win went to Romain Bardet  (Ag2r La Mondiale) who followed Aru’s attack, which he launched at 300m to go.

Also on the wheel was second place rider Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) – both overtook, with Aru in third – leaving Froome  to swerve his way to the line in seventh place, 22 seconds back.

Read the report here 

Stage 11 – Eymet – Pau – 203.5km

1st : KITTEL Marcel (GER) Quickstep Floors, Maillot Vert, Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

On stage eleven, Marcel Kittel added yet another stage win to his 2017 Tour de France collection, raising his arms at the finish in Pau.

The race followed a familiar format – Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe’s), Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates) and Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) broke a way from the drop of the flag, gaining a gap of around four minutes.

Bodnar attacked the break, with about 25km to go – he held on to his solo lead until the very last 250m, when the peloton finally chased him down – almost leaving it too late.

When the sprint trains came to the fore, it was Kittel who proved to have the best legs.

There were a number of small crashes, but notably Dario Cataldo – a key Astana helper for Fabio Aru – crashed out and was forced to leave the race, meaning he’s one man down.

Read the full report here

Stage 10 – Périgueaux – Bergerac – 178km

Marcel Kittel made it four stage wins as he completely decimated his sprinting rivals on a pan flat stage.

The day started with a small breakaway of just two riders but with all the sprinting teams eyeing this up they were caught with 15km to go.

With a few sharp turns the peloton was soon thinned out and showing his talent to be far superior to the rest of the field, Kittel started his sprint way behind his fellow fast men but finished ahead of them by a few bike lengths. The German became the most decorated German stage winner at the Tour.

Read the full report here

Stage nine -Nantua – Chambéry – 181.5km

Climbers sprint it out for the win on stage nine 
Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

Froome still leads in the yellow jersey, after an eventful stage that was won by Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac), in a photo finish with Warren Barguil (Sunweb) in second.

Barguil rode solo up the final climb on a mountainous stage, only to be joined by Uran, Froome, Fabio Aru (Astana), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La  Mondiale).

Initially, Barguil thought he’d claimed the win, but the judges thought otherwise.

The GC order remained largely unchanged, but two key riders left the race: Thomas (Team Sky) and GC contender Richie Porte (BMC). Both crashed on descents, incurring injuries sufficient enough to leave them incapable of remounting.

Read the full report here 

Stage eight – Dole – Station des Rousses, 187.5km

Lilian Calmejane wins stage eight of the 2017 Tour de France

Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) won the first mountain stage of the 2017 Tour de France. The 24-year-old broke away with 6km to go on the final category one climb, leaving behind his breakaway companions: Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), Nicolas Roche (BMC) and Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo).

Calmejane continued to set a strong pace up the 11.4km Montee de la Combe de Laisia Les Molunes, with Gesink chasing – almost catching him at 3km to go on the climb, but eventually dropping back.

At 12km to go until the end of the stage, the route was largely flat, with a few short stingers. He maintained a gap, crossing the line alone, 27 seconds ahead of Gesink with Guillaume Martin (Wanty – Groupe Gobert) 50 seconds back.

Froome once again stays in yellow, with team mate Thomas his closest company.

Read the full report here 

Stage seven – Troyes – Nuits-Saint-Georges, 213.5km

Marcel Kittel won stage seven of the Tour de France

Making it two on a row, Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors) won stage seven of the Tour de France in a photo finish in which the German sprinter just edged out Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data).

A break did form early – consisting of Yohann Gène (Direct Energie), Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac), Maxime Bouet (Fortuneo-Oscaro) and Manuele Mori (UAE Team Emirates). They built up a lead of three and a half minutes – but with 30km to go, the teams of the GC contenders took to the fore and chased them down.

At 10km, sprinter’s trains took over, the break riders were caught and it was a flat – but fairly technical – run into the finish. Kittel launched his sprint late – at around 70 metres to go – but just managed to edge around Boasson Hagen in a finish that had to be confirmed via photo replay.

Froome hung onto this yellow jersey, going into stage eight – which promises two categorised climbs in the final third.

Read the full report here 

Stage six – Vesoul – Troyes, 216km

Marcel Kittel tour de france win

Marcel Kittel wins again. Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

Another flat day for the sprinters, and one with a far less controversial finish than stage four.

German sprinter Marcel Kittel took the win, his second victory of the tour. He proved he had the legs over French national champion Arnaud Démare (FDJ) who came in second, and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) in third.

The 216km course provided a long game of cat-and-mouse, with three riders breaking away: Frenchman Perrig Quéméneur (Direct Energie), Norwegian Vegard Stake Laengen (UAE Team Emirates) and Belgian Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).

The trio were kept at a comfortable distance throughout, and hoovered up by the fast moving bunch with 3km to go. A technical finish made for careful handling, but whilst the sprinters instigated fireworks up ahead, the bunch rolled safely in with no change to the GC.

Read the full report here

Stage five – Vittel – La Planche des Belles Filles, 160.5km

Fabio Aru wins on La Planche des Belles Filles (Sunada)

Chris Fromme pulled on the maillot jaune in a day that saw the GC contenders brought to the fore on a summit finish.

The contenders were still together on the final climb, when Italian rider Fabio Aru attacked the group with 2.4km to go.

At the 1.6km mark, Froome launched his own assault in an attempt to claw back Aru.

Richie Porte (BMC), Daniel Martin (Quick-Step) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) stuck with Froome whilst Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) dropped back creating time gaps that may concern some.

Eventually Froome slowed his attack, leaving Aru to take the win – but giving him a strong enough advantage to pull on the yellow jersey.

Read the full report here. 

Stage four: Mondorf-les-bains – Vittel, 207.5km

Arnaud Démare wins stage four of the 2017 Tour de France. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

Arnaud Demare captured his first Tour de France victory against a decimated field. Two crashes in the last 1.5km saw Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel among others hitting the deck.

A first crash downed a few of the GC contender including race leader Geraint Thomas but the Welshman crossed the line on top of his bike with few scratches to show. The second crash saw Peter Sagan‘s elbow force Cavendish into the barriers just 200m from the line as Demare took advantage.

Sagan was later disqualified for his action and a broken shoulder for Cav put him out the race – removing two clear green jersey hopefuls.

Read the full report here

Stage three: Verviers  – Longwy, 212.5km

Peter Sagan wins stage three of the Tour de France (Sunada)

Peter Sagan took the victory on stage three of the Tour de France 2017, with Michael Matthews (Sunweb) in second and Dan Martin (Quick Step Floors) third.

Richie Porte (BMC) did make a solo attempt in the final 800 metres, but was swept up around 400 metres later. Tour leader Geraint Thomas finished in the bunch, retaining his yellow jersey lead. Team Sky team mate and defending champion Chris Froome was close by, moving into second on GC.

Read the full report here 

Stage two: Düsseldorf – Liége/Luik, 203.5km

Marcel Kittel wins stage two of the Tour de France Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

A flat stage played out in typical fashion – with a break launching from the start, only to be hoovered up before a sprint finish claimed by Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors).

The previous day’s rain had far from subsided – with riders dodging standing water throughout.

The break consisted of Taylor Phinney (Cannondale-Drapac), Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie), Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Gobert) and Lauren Pichon (Fortuneo-Oscaro). They were caught at the Flamme Rouge, leaving sprint trains with time to prepare their riders.

Geraint Thomas retained his lead and will wear the yellow jersey for stage three.

Read the full report here 

Stage one: Düsseldorf (DE) 14km ITT

Geraint Thomas wins the stage one time trial of the 2017 Tour de France. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) will enter the second stage of the Tour de France in yellow after winning the time trial in Düsseldorf.

Thomas, fresh from disappointment at the Giro, blasted into first place, five seconds ahead of Stefan Küng (BMC) and seven seconds faster than Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky). Time Trial expert Tony Martin was in fourth, eight seconds back.

The closest GC potential was Chris Froome, who was 12 seconds back. Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) finished 37 seconds back, Richie Porte (BMC) was 47 behind with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) back by 48 seconds.

The stage was marred by torrential downpour, which saw several riders hit the deck – including Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who abandoned the race as a result of his injuries.

Read the live report here  | Read the race report here 

Who to watch at the Tour de France

Chris Froome (Team Sky) will line up at the Tour de France with the number 1 on his back – but he’ll face competition from Giro d’Italia second place rider Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and BMC’s Richie Porte. 

Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) was the stand-out performer in 2016 with his fourth place overall and victory in the young rider classification. However he won’t be on the start line in Düsseldorf having ridden the Giro d’Italia, with Orica-Scott backing twin brother Simon and Esteban Chaves at the Tour.

Alberto Contador put off his expected retirement to have one last crack at victory in the Tour de France, and after being forced out of the 2016 edition due to crashes and illness, he’ll be hungrier than ever for one last win to put him on the top step at a Grand Tour.

The route looks less mountainous than 2016, which could further suit Froome, but the three-time winner hasn’t enjoyed his usual stellar start to the year, and has been vulnerable to ambushes in the past.

A tactical howler from Team Sky at the 2016 Vuelta a España saw the British rider lose more time to Quintana on one stage than he lost by in total by the end of the race.

The organisers have been open about the fact that the 2017 Tour de France route has been designed to encourage attacking racing, which was lacking in 2016 – with the exception of Romain Bardet’s (Ag2r La Mondiale) brilliant ride in the final week to take second overall.

Romain Bardet riding to victory on stage 19 of the 2016 Tour de France. Photo: Graham Watson

In news that will please spectators more than commentators, each and every one of the Tour de France’s 21 stages will be shown live from start to finish in 2017.

For the first time since it launched in 2014, La Course by Le Tour de France will be held away from the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The women’s peloton will ride part of the men’s stage 18, which is also where L’Étape du Tour sportive will take place.

The women’s race will not reach the same summit as the men’s race or the amateur sportive, which has led to criticism from some fans.

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