Tour de Pologne organizers have unveiled the route of the 74th edition of the WorldTour race. This year's parcours sees some changes introduced to what had lately become a traditional course.
The Tour de Pologne runs between July 29 and August 4 and, just like in recent years, will be the main stage race between the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. The route features 23 categorized climbs and three uphill finishes, and follows a well-trodden trail in the southern parts of Poland. However, it includes neither a time-trial stage nor unnaturally long stages. Instead, seven days of racing are designed to give opportunities to both sprinters and puncheurs.
Krakow will host the start of the race, while Katowice and Rzeszow will be the two other major cities welcoming the WorldTour peloton. Traditionally a venue of the final time trial, this year the capital of Lesser Poland sees riders kick off racing with a short but undulating stage, likely to be snatched by sprinters. Day two will also be familiar as riders head to Katowice for a bunch sprint on a wide roads in the city centre, although there is a short climb to deal with on the way.
First moves in the general classifications are expected to take place on day three as riders tackle a hilly course on their way to the ski resort of Szczyrk. With four categorized climbs on the menu, punchy riders are likely to battle for the win on a steep climb that awaits in the final.
The sprinters will have their last chance on day five as the peloton crosses Silesian roads and finishes in Zabrze after 238km of largely flat stage. The peloton then moves east on a short stage to Rzeszow, climbing four times in the final 60 kilometres – an overture to the more mountainous part of the race.
The final two days see the riders tackling the narrow roads of the Tatra mountains, where short stages with uphill finishes are designed to create an explosive race. Stage 6 leads through five categorized ascents into Zakopane, finishing on an uphill by Wielka Krokiew, the famous ski jumping venue, where Bart de Clercq and Tim Wellens triumphed in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
On the final day the riders cover a 66-kilometre circuit twice, climbing into Bukowina Tatrzanska. The traditional queen stage – jagged with numerous steep ascents and virtually no flat sections – was cancelled last year due to heavy rain but features in 2017 program, albeit with an altered route. Eight climbs will provide the final showdown of the race and the overall winner should be decided on the five-kilometre ascent to Bukowina Tatrzanska.
The organizers have already handed out the wildcards for three Pro Continental squads – CCC Sprandi Polkowice, Gazprom-Rusvelo and Team Novo Nordisk – as well as for the Polish National Team.
In 2016, Lotto Soudal's Tim Wellens claimed overall victory, surging to a stage win on a rain-soaked day in Zakopane. The Belgian outpaced his rivals and, with the last mountain stage called off, he held on comfortably to his advantage in the final time trial.
2017 Tour de Pologne route:
Stage 1: Krakow – Krakow (137 km)
Stage 2: Tarnowskie Gory – Katowice (146 km)
Stage 3: Jaworzno – Szczyrk (161 km)
Stage 4: Zawiercie – Zabrze (238 km)
Stage 5: Olimp Nagawczyna – Rzeszow (130 km)
Stage 6: Wieliczka – Zakopane (199 km)
Stage 7: Bukovina Resort – Bukowina Tatrzanska (132.5 km)