2017 Tour de France stage previews

On Saturday afternoon, the 104th edition of the Tour de France will get underway as the first of the 198 riders strong peloton rolls down the stage 1 time trial start ramp. Over the following 20 stages, the peloton will fight tooth and nail to decide who will arrive in Paris on July 23 and add their name to the yellow jersey honour roll.

Each one of the 21 stages that make up the 2017 Tour will be of significance to the overall outcomes. However, certain stages will be of greater significance than others and to determine which days will be of greater importance in the battle for the yellow jersey, Cyclingnews sought the experience and opinion of four Australians who have enjoyed Tour de France success.

2011 Tour de France champion Cadel Evans, Tour de France winning director Scott Sunderland, 2003 green jersey champion Baden Cooke, and the first non-European to wear the yellow jersey, Phil Anderson, have looked over the parcours and previewed stages exclusively for Cyclingnews. 

For all the latest news on the Tour de France and race details, head to our hub page.

Stage 1 - July 01, 2017: Düsseldorf - Düsseldorf, 14km

Phil Anderson says

"A 14km individual time trial in the streets of Dusseldorf will keep the GC contenders honest from the outset. The flat, out and back course along the banks of the Rhine will be long enough to lose precious seconds in what is expected to be a classic Tour de France with a highly pitched battle between Richie Porte and Chris Froome but perfect for the likes of Rohan Dennis. BMC may be looking at snatching the yellow jersey early, replicating the smoking hot performance of Rohan two years back. The strategy, to keep the pressure off Richie by holding Froome at bay from the outset.

"My view, Porte needs to ride to win the Tour de France, not ride to beat Froome. He is good enough and needs to get that monkey off his back. I would expect Porte to beat Froome on this course. He will be better and want a psychological victory but the results in the next ITT in Marseille may prove to be a different story after three weeks of hard racing."

Stage 2 - July 02, 2017: Düsseldorf - Liège, 206km

Baden Cooke says

"Stage 2 from Dusseldorf to Liege will almost certainly be a day for the sprinters. With the yellow jersey having already been decided on the stage one 14km time trial, the early control of the stage while in Germany will probably rest on the shoulders of the race leader's team.

"By the time the riders hit Belgian roads expect the sprinter's teams to be in full chase mode, bearing down on the riders that will almost certainly have escaped to fight for the right to wear the first polka dot climber's jersey of the race. With 203.5 km on many of the same roads as Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the day will not be easy despite only having two category four climbs. The winner of the stage on the Boulevard de la Sauvenière will likely be still out of reach of the yellow jersey of the time trial specialists."

Stage 3 - July 03, 2017: Verviers - Longwy, 202km

Scott Sunderland says

"This will be an exciting stage, with the powerful and punchy one-day classic riders the ones feeling most at home on this hilly and winding terrain. The final ascent to the finish at the Longwy Citadel is on narrow roads with plenty of turns leading into the finishing climb; an S-bend corner which will be tricky to negotiate just before the red kite of the final kilometre.

"A stage victory for the one-day classics specialists and the candidates of the leader's yellow jersey can be expected." 

Stage 4 - July 04, 2017: Mondotf-les-Bains - Vittel, 203km

Baden Cooke says

"Stage 4 from Mondorf-les-Bains to Vittel will see riders on French soil for the first time in the 2017 Tour. Without major climbs, this stage should offer a second opportunity for the fast men. Crosswinds could quite well be a factor on the roads of Meurthe-et-Moselle, this may be a point of danger for the smaller climbers who have eyes on the overall title.

"With the intermediate sprint somewhat late at only 50km from the finish, the sprinter's teams may well leave a breakaway out in front so that the points can be taken and the fast men can save their legs to fight for the stage victory. After 207.5km the riders will arrive in Vittel for a false flat slightly uphill sprint."

Stage 5 - July 05, 2017: Vittel - La Planche de Belles Filles, 160km


Cadel Evans says

"The first summit finish of any Grand Tour is always important and an important indicator of how everyone is going and how the GC contenders stack up. On the Planche des Belles Filles stage in 2012, I remember Steve Morabito and I went and did a course recon and did everything for the stage that we could. One problem we encountered was that the road and the finish hadn't yet been built. I don't know if Chris Froome had seen the course via video or something, but it was only that I didn't know the last corner. I was second on the stage, but I think it could have been one that I could have won.

"The entrance to the climb requites a good team to get through as it's a narrow, windy road to get to the bottom of the climb. On the climb, I think it will be quite a close between the GC guys. The main thing will be not to lose time and get a look at your competitors as then you can make a better race plan from then onwards." 

Stage 6 - July 06, 2017: Visoul - Troyes, 216km

Baden Cooke says

"Stage 6 will see the riders in the saddle for another long day of 216km between Vesoul and Troyes. Riding through the Plateau de Langres, and passing through Colombeyles-Deux-Églises. With the intermediate sprint relatively early it is likely to be picked up by the breakaway riders and not affect the green jersey competition.

"At the 154km mark, the riders will hit the 3.1km Côte de la colline Sainte-Germaine category 4 climb. It'll then be the turn of the sprinter's teams to reel in the breakaway riders and prepare their lead out trains to take charge on the large avenues of the centre of Troyes."

Stage 9 - July 09, 2017: Nantua - Chambery, 181km

Phil Anderson says

"The peloton will ride into the second week of La Grande Boucle with legs tested by the relentless undulations and pace of the race through Germany and Belgium. The first fractures in form will start to appear in teams not on form while the main contenders must put their race faces on as this stage could dictate the outcome of Le Tour.

"Reverting to my own conspiracy theory on the ASO and Chris Froome's plan for him to win his fourth Tour, this stage is a classic in waiting for the Froomster. Historically he lays the cards out on the table on the first day in the mountains leaving the field in tatters. It's a GC day with seven climbs, three of which are Hors Categorie followed by the first rest day.

"BMC, Movistar and Sky will be approaching the foot of the first climb at full tilt, drag racing up the climbs then trying to re-assemble in each valley before the next repeat. Unlike Groundhog Day the riders won't get a second chance, minutes will be lost and the field will be in tatters, the contest reduced to just a few by the time they reach the Grand Colombier. A tough first half with long straight segments at close to 20% should reduce the field to the main contenders before the final climb of Mont du Chat. This will be a slug-fest, cheap undercuts like Froome's attack on Richie in the Dauphine the order of the day. I believe stage 9 will shape this year's Tour."

Stage 11 - July 12, 2017: Eymet - Pau, 202km

Scott Sunderland says

"As the Tour approaches the base of the Pyrenean mountains, the GC contenders will have one thing on their mind: to conserve as much energy as possible.

"Typically, we will see aggressive attacking from the non-climbing riders at the start to get into an early breakaway on this rather flat stage. Then it will be up to the sprinters' teams to take charge, bring back order and prepare the final for their sprinters. I expect a mass sprint into the city of Pau.

"GC riders and teams will, however, need to stay vigilant as the westerly winds could decide to blow across the south of France on this day!"

Stage 12 - July 13, 2017: Pau - Peryagudes, 214km

Phil Anderson says

"In all my years as a racer, commentator and small business operator at Le Tour, I have never quite seen a course quite like it. It's not shaking up the race per say, possibly a route for organiser, ASO's commercial reasons more than anything else, but a day in the Alps followed by the Pyrenees, then back to the Alps. As a rider, I would hate it; so much time in the bus rather than resting the legs up in the closest hotel recovering. At the pointy end of the race, the favourites will be so wrapped up in cotton wool by the teams that the spectators will not see them other than fleeting glimpses on the road, whisked to media and then the bus.

"The riders have been resting and transferring but some do it better than others, so today's stage, a long way from the Alps will see the GC contenders being vigilant, conserving their efforts. It is is not the most challenging stage other than that the intersection off Port de Bales to the final climb of Peyresourde which reduces the final climb to 10km.

"There will be a breakaway, dependent on losses in Stage 9. The battle for lesser podium places will take place on the Peyresourde with lesser GC contenders desperate to regain lost time will try and regain some dignity and battle it out for line honours." 

Stage 13 - July 14, 2017: Saint Girons - Foix, 100km

Scott Sunderland says

"101 kilometres for today's stage with three first category climbs. Following the previous stage of 214km with six categorised climbs, today will see the shortest ever stage in the history of the Tour since the decision to only have one stage per day.

"This stage will be nothing short of being spectacular and exciting to watch. I expect attacks from the start by audacious and fearless climbing specialists racing for victory in today's stage and while doing so, either stamping their authority on this year's Tour or possibly failing while trying valiantly on this exceptionally short but extremely tough 13th stage." 

Stage 17 - July 19, 2017: Le Murre - Serre Chavalier, 183km

Cadel Evans says

"There is a good chance of the breakaway staying away for this stage. The last time I raced the Col du Télégraphe and Col du Galibier from that side was during the 2013 Giro d'Italia, but the main thing in this stage will be the amount of climbing before the Télégraphe and the Galibier and that it is also the third week. Everyone is going to start the stage tired, and you are going to have a hard start and hard finish. Everyone is going to be exhausted which is another reason why I think the breakaway will stay away.

"We may see some close racing because everyone will be digging into the reserves. The Télégraphe and Galibier in my mind is probably the longest climb in Europe, not because it is the longest technically, but that from the top of the Télégraphe descent to the start of the Galibier passes so quickly in time. You get over the top, have a drink and start climbing again. There is very little respite in what is otherwise a 42km climb.

"The descent isn't that intimidating. On TV and from the helicopter I think it looks more intimidating. Obviously, it is a rough road, there are no barriers and it is very narrow with long straights with sharp switchbacks. The fact that the stage finishes with a downhill, I would expect to see a little bit of regrouping of the guys who go over the top. The stage will be decided by a small group finish, whether it's the breakaway or the GC guys."

Stage 18 - July 20, 2017: Briancon - Izoard, 178km

Cadel Evans says

"I think the Col d'Izoard on paper isn't that long but it is steep from what I remember. This stage comes the day after the biggest climbing stage of the Tour and I think already the guys would have started the previous stage going into the reserves. Col d'Izoard is going to be another one where they'll go into the reserves and if someone is having a bad day or a good day, maybe it will be a day of drama in the GC

"I think it is most likely that a breakaway will contest the stage as everyone will be pretty exhausted by the time to get to stage 18. If someone is not climbing well, they will be pushed to their limit on the climbs anyway. It's a delicate balancing act as you certainly don't want to lose any time on the climbs but if you limit your losses and save some energy for the time trial that would be ideal. I expect after the solid finish and several hard days close together in the third week that it will be Tour where the third week will count for a lot."

Stage 20 - July 22, 2017: Marseille - Marseille (ITT)

Cadel Evans says

"The emotion of winning the Tour no matter where it finishes is pretty amazing. Certainly, it will be a fantastic show, whether you are there as a spectator or a rider. If you've lost the Tour and you are in second place, which is always disappointing, to ride into an ambience like that could something special indeed.

"My compliments to ASO for being able to organise such an event for a race as big as the Tour and for such an important stage. In the past we have had stage finishes that won't come close to this in size, so to come into a finish like this will be something quite special and amazing."

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