The 2017 Tour de l'Avenir will again reveal future Grand Tour contenders, with this year's route starting in Brittany and heading south through central France for three consecutive and selective mountain stages in the Alps.
The nine-day race will start on August 18 and end on August 27, with the introduction of a rest day to give the Under 23 riders a chance to recover before the tough finale.
Some of the biggest names in the sport won the Tour de l'Avenir before going on to success in Grand Tours. Greg LeMond won it in 1982, Miguel Indurain in 1986, Laurent Fignon in 1988 and, more recently, Nairo Quintana won in 2010. Other recent winners include Esteban Chaves, Warren Barguil, Ruben Fernandez and Miguel Angel Lopez. French climbing talent David Gaudu won the race in 2016 and is now riding for FDJ.
The Tour de l'Avenir was created in 1961 by Jacques Marchand, the then editor-in-chief of L'Equipe. It has changed name and format over the years but is now part of the UCI Europe Tour and the UCI U23 Nations Cup. The four classification jerseys replicate those of the Tour de France, with the winner awarded a yellow jersey.
Expected contenders in 2017 include the USA's Adrien Costa, recent Giro d'Italia Under 23 winner Pavel Sivakov, Australia's Lucas Hamilton, and Colombian climber Egan Bernal, who is already a professional with Androni Giocattoli.
The 2017 race route was unveiled on Monday evening in France, confirming the Brittany start and the testing finale in the Alps, with summit finishes in Hauteluce Les Saisies, Sainte-Foy Tarentaise and Albiez-Montrond.
Both Barguil and Gaudu come from Brittany and the 2017 Grand Départ will celebrate their success, even if the opening stages in Loudéac, Lochrist and Chateaubriant are more suited to sprinters and rouleurs. Three other stages in the Loire area will take the race across central France. There are no time trial stages but a rest day on August 24 will help the riders recover and transfer to the Alps.
Stage 7 is from Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc to the Olympic venue of Les Saisies, with the 15km climb to the finish topping out at 1650m. Stage 8 from Albertville to Ste-Foy Tarentaise includes the 19km climb to Comet de Roselend, the climb to Les Arcs, and a final 6.5km climb to the finish. The final stage includes the massive Col de la Madeleine, with the 11km, 7.5 per cent climb to the finish in Albiez-Montrond set to crown the final overall winner.
Tour de l'Avenir 2017 stages
August 18: stage 1: Loudéac (Côtes d'Armor) - Loudéac 134km
August 19: stage 2: Inzinzac-Lochrist (Morbihan) - Bignan (Morbihan) 132.4km
August 20: stage 3: Missillac (Loire-Atlantique) - Châteaubriant (Loire-Atlantique) 125.7 m
August 21: stage 4: Derval (Loire-Atlantique) - Saumur (Maine-et-Loire) 166.6km
August 22: stage 5: Montreuil-Bellay (Maine-et-Loire) - Amboise (Indre-et-Loire) 157.1km
August 23: stage 6: Montrichard (Loir-et-Cher) - Saint-Amand-Montrond (Cher) 139.1km
August 24: rest day in Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc (Haute-Savoie)
August 25: stage 7: Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc (Haute-Savoie) - Hauteluce Les Saisies (Savoie) 118.4km
August 26: stage 8: Albertville (Savoie) - Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise (Savoie) 120.5km
August 27: stage 9: Bourg-Saint-Maurice (Savoie) - Albiez-Montrond (Savoie) 107.4km