There is just one day to go until the Tour de France 2017 route is revealed and bloggers are finalising their predictions as to where will feature on the 104th edition of the historic race.
We know that it will start in Dusseldorf and end in Paris, but what will be in store for the other 19 stages is yet to be revealed. What we do know, however, is that bits and pieces of advance knowledge will have surfaced by the time organiser ASO unveils the route.
Online sleuths have been compiling news reports, rumours and confirming hotel bookings to get a sense of where the Tour might be travelling next July. Here’s what we know so far…
Tour de France 2017 dates and details
Dates: July 1-23, 2017
Grand Départ: Dusseldorf, Germany
Finish: Paris, France
TV coverage (UK): Eurosport, ITV4
The Tour de France 2017 route
It was announced before the 2016 Tour de France that the grand départ for the 2017 edition will take place on German soil in the city of Düsseldorf. This first stage will comprise of a short time trial, similar to that of the 2015 race, which started with a 13.8km TT around Utrecht.
“Based on the stage profile, Tony Martin has the best shot at wearing the legendary yellow jersey in his home country at the end of the opening day,” read a press release from ASO.
“The stage will start opposite the Messe fair grounds, following which the riders will roll down the banks of the Rhine for several kilometres before crossing it twice and heading for Königsallee, the city’s most iconic street.
“Finally, after breezing past the opera, the riders will head north-west towards the finish line, also located near Messe. The pancake-flat course will whet the appetite of power riders, notably the 2013 individual time trial world champion.”
Stage two will also start in Düsseldorf, doing a small tour of the local area before heading out of town towards an unknown finish. The location of the city to the north west of Germany means we could be in for a stage finish in Belgium as the race heads towards France, with Verviers, in the east of the country, the rumoured location.
ASO has released a map of the opening kilometres, but the rest is yet to be confirmed.
We also definitely know that the race will once again finish on the Champs-Elysées for the 42nd consecutive time, unless something dramatic happens between now and then.
What are the key rumours?
The Tour de France organiser will present its 2017 route on October 19, but details have been trickling through about some of the key stages for weeks.
The Tour should visit the Vosges, Jura, Pyrénées and the Alps – twice – in 2017. For the third successive year it looks as if the Alps will feature in the third week (though neither Mont Ventoux or Alpe d’Huez will feature), coming after the stages through the Pyrénées at the end of week two. Due to the fact that both the 2015 and 2016 Tours culminated in the Alps, it was thought that organisers would reverse the order for 2017, but various sources show that isn’t the case.
Instead, it appears that the race will visit the Alps immediately before the Pyrénées and then return to the eastern mountain range via the Massif Central for the third year running. Unlike previous editions, however, the penultimate stage will not involve an Alpine summit finish, instead it looks set to be a time trial in the southern city of Marseille.
For the climbers, the first big test, like five years prior when Bradley Wiggins won the general classification, looks likely to come on the 5.9km summit finish to La Planche des Belles Filles as early as stage five. That stage, with 14% in the final 500 metres, was the first that Chris Froome won in the Tour de France.
Seasoned Tour de France route predictor Thomas Vergouwen believes the race will travel down to the Vosges and Jura via Belgium and Luxembourg, with the stage to La Planche des Belles Filles possibly starting in Vittel.
La Planche des Belles Filles may not be the only big day in the Vosges mountains in 2017. Le Dauphiné Libéré newspaper published details in September indicating that stage nine before the first rest day should take in the Col de la Biche followed by the Grand Colombier. The race should follow the hardest of its four sides with 22% grades, and the 8.7km Mont du Chat from Cremaire.
From there, Vergouwen predicts the race will head inland to Troyes before going south once more to the northern Alps and a stage finish in Chambery before the rest day. Following the stage, the general consensus is that the race will transfer across the country to Perigueux to spend the rest day before a stage to Bergerac the next day.
The Dordogne looks certain to host the post-rest day stage, with département chief Germinal Peiro posing for a picture with Tour director Christian Prudhomme in June to discuss hosting a stage.
The race will then travel down to Pau as a gateway to the Pyrenees, as revealed in a tweet from Le Tour’s account. A summit finish to the Peyragudes ski station is on the Tour’s programme, according to La Dépêche. This climb also featured in the 2012 Tour when Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won. With the Peyresourde before it, the climb runs 15.4km at 5.1%.
The Alps again host the final mountain stages of the Tour. Information is trickling through about the final days in the mountains, with Serre Chevalier the possible host of the finish of stage 19 on the final Friday with the riders arriving via the north face of the Col du Galibier, 2645 metres.
A summit finish to the Col d’Izoard at 2360 metres the next day would then be the final climb before the Paris finish. Le Dauphiné Libéré suggested that the stage could start in Briançon, climb Col de Vars (2109m) and feature as next year’s L’Etape du Tour for amateurs.
There’s also the belief that Meribel signed a two-stage contract with ASO, one of which was stage six of the 2016 Critérium du Dauphiné, which featured a battle between Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet for the win, and the second being at the 2017 Tour de France.
It’s not uncommon for the Dauphiné to be used as a testing ground for the Tour de France, so we could see a stage finish in Meribel in week three, although all indications show that there will only be two summit finishes in the Alps, at the Serre Chevalier and Col d’Izoard.
Vergouwen believes the race will not finish in the mountains, instead racing from Embrun to Salon-de-Provence in the south of the country on stage 19 with a possible time trial in Marseille on stage 20 to decide the general classification.
It’s just a rumour at this stage, but one that has been picked up by numerous news outlets. Should the penultimate stage take place in the coastal city there would be a very long transfer up to the outskirts of Paris that night for the final stage on July 23.
Race participants and favourites
Before the route has even been announced, bookmakers have anointed Chris Froome as the favourite to win a third Tour in a row. Nairo Quintana is currently some way back in second place in the odds list, but all is likely to change between now and next July.
Should the predicted route turn out to be correct, as it has been for numerous years, Chris Froome will be a very happy man. A penultimate stage time trial would give him a huge advantage over his rivals, who, assuming the Sky rider is in contention deep into the third week, will have to lay down some serious attacks in the two Alpine stages.
Chris Froome: Evens
Nairo Quintana: 9/2
Richie Porte: 10/1
Alberto Contador: 14/1
Romain Bardet: 22/1