The 2017 Tour de France is just over a month away, and the ASO has revealed the routes and profiles for all 21 stages as the Grand Départ approaches. From the start in Düsseldorf through Belgium and Luxembourg to France, the 104th edition of the sport's main event will pit the peloton against an intriguing array of challenges, with a particular focus on a few steep ascents, across several distinct parts of France and its neighbours.
Defending champion Chris Froome and challengers Nairo Quintana, Richie Porte and Alberto Contador will find themselves on a route that may skew slightly towards the climbers but with a generally balanced feel. The time trial mileage is limited, but so are the mammoth uphill slogs.
Race director Christian Prudhomme noted late last year that he wanted a less predictable Tour de France. To that end, the 2017 Tour will spread its GC-defining days across all three weeks, with fewer climbs in total than in 2016 but several especially steep mountain gradients that will force riders to rely more on their own legs than the comfort of a teammate's slipstream.
A short opening time trial in Düsseldorf, marking the race's first foray onto German soil in three decades, will set the tone on the overall leaderboard early, though without much likelihood of serious time gaps. The stage hunters will come to the fore over the next few days as the Tour works its way south through Belgium and Luxembourg before the first true mountain stage to La Planche des Belles Filles on the fifth day of the race. The site of Chris Froome's first ever Tour stage win in 2012, where Vincenzo Nibali took hold of the yellow jersey in a victorious 2014 campaign, the relatively short but quite steep climb is sure to have a big impact on the race.
Two more mountain stages before the first rest day – a stage 8 with a late first-category climb and a stage 9 pairing the Grand Colombier with a late hors-categorie climb – are sure to delight the many fans who don't like waiting until late in the third week for GC action.
Stage 12 looks to be the next key challenge as the Tour heads to the Pyrenees. A long one at 214 kilometres, it features five categorised climbs and closes out with a fantastic trio of challenging ascents: the HC-rated Port de Balès, the Cat. 1 Peyresourde and a short but steep second-category finish to Peyragudes for good measure. A stage 13 with three first-category climbs will follow to keep the yellow jersey hopefuls on their toes.
The final week presents a pair of mountainous days on stage 17 and 18 as the final climber's test of the race. The former features the Croix de Fer and the Galibier among its four categorised climbs before a long but speedy descent to the finish. The latter finishes atop the Col d'Izoard which starts out gently before kicking up to sections of nine and 10 per cent.
The 20th stage offers one last GC challenge – an individual time trial in Marseille. Flat for the first 14 kilometres and the last five, the course features a viciously steep climb crested at 15.6 kilometres, an unusual feature for the discipline. At 22.5 kilometres in full, it's not an especially long race against the clock. Considering the topography of the Tour as a whole, however, things could still be close on the penultimate stage, and the TT could make all the difference in the battle to bring yellow onto the Champs-Élysées the following day.
2017 Tour de France route:
- Stage 1 - July 01, 2017: Düsseldorf - Düsseldorf, 14km
- Stage 2 - July 02, 2017: Düsseldorf - Liège, 206km
- Stage 3 - July 03, 2017: Verviers - Longwy, 202km
- Stage 4 - July 04, 2017: Mondotf-les-Bains - Vittel, 203km
- Stage 5 - July 05, 2017: Vittel - La Planche de Belles Filles, 160km
- Stage 6 - July 06, 2017: Visoul - Troyes, 216km
- Stage 7 - July 07, 2017: Troyes - Nuits-Saint-Georges, 214km
- Stage 8 - July 08, 2017: Dole - Sation des Rousses, 187km
- Stage 9 - July 09, 2017: Nantua - Chambery, 181km
- Rest day 1 July 10, 2017 Dordogne - Dordogne
- Stage 10 - July 11, 2017: Perigueux - Bergerac, 178km
- Stage 11 - July 12, 2017: Eymet - Pau, 202km
- Stage 12 - July 13, 2017: Pau - Peryagudes, 214km
- Stage 13 - July 14, 2017: Saint Girons - Foix, 100km
- Stage 14 - July 15, 2017: Blagnac - Rodez, 181km
- Stage 15 - July 16, 2017: Laissac-Severac 'Eglise - Le Puy-en-Velay, 189km
- Rest day 2 July 17, 2017 Le Puy-en-Velay - Le Puy-en-Velay
- Stage 16 - July 18, 2017: Le Puy-en-Velay - Romans sur Isere, 165km
- Stage 17 - July 19, 2017: Le Murre - Serre Chavalier, 183km
- Stage 18 - July 20, 2017: Briancon - Izoard, 178km
- Stage 19 - July 21, 2017: Embrun - Salon de Provence, 220km
- Stage 20 - July 22, 2017: Marseille - Marseille (ITT), 23km
- Stage 21 - July 23, 2017: Montgeron - Paris, 105km