Here’s the 2017 route map. See below for Gareth, our lead cyclist’s route analysis…
The 2017 route, fairly unusually, takes in five distinct mountain ranges. I really think that this is a wonderful way to spread the ‘interest’ across the whole Tour for both Tour de Force participants and television audiences. There will be the combination of beautiful mountainous scenery and the potential for exciting racing throughout.
As early as stage 5 up to La Planche des Belles Filles there are likely to be key GC battles. In the last two editions of the Tour Chris Froome has, more or less, created a lead when perhaps other teams were not expecting it and then defended towards the end of the race. This could be the situation again and Movistar and other hopeful GC teams will have to be agressive in breaking up the race on stages 9 (to Chambery), 12 (to Peyragudes) and 17/18 in the Alps as there are only three other summit finishes after La Planche des Belles Filles.
It’s always nice to go somewhere new so having Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg in the first week is a treat – different beers to sample and towns with tonnes of cycling history and fervour! When you’re cycling through with the Tour de Force you get perfect roads (we call it Tour Tarmac) and the full force of locals anticipation of next week’s pros.
I think the rural roads and variety of countryside will be a highlight with plenty of opportunity for group riding, chatting, socialising and enjoyment.
But then there are some epic days (stages 9, 12 and 17…) and those can make for the most memorable if we’re talking about highlights.
If your highlights don’t need to include epic then look no further than stages 7 and 19 (sunshine guaranteed).
I think that this is a fantastic Tour on which to be a lifer. The transfers are far less long and onerous than last year and there are no horrendously long stages to be nervous about like the 240 kilometres of years past and there is also a good sprinkling of 160-180km stages and a couple of very short days. The lack of time trials in the middle of the race does mean that there are fewer opportunities to catch a sneaky ‘rest day’ but I think that the varied nature of stages will more than compensate for that.
There’s certainly lots to consider for anyone picking a Tour Taster. It looks like a good year for choice…
Short options might include the few stages (3-5 or 4/5) leading to the Planche des Belles Filles, then the Dordogne to Pyrenees or the second weekend of a short mountain stage plus the massif central (that’s surely way too tempting for anyone looking for an office escape!).
People with more time either have the choice of a great first week of flatter but still amply challenging stages – or an epic Alpine visit.
If you’re considering being a semi Lifer, you’ll feel like you’ve seen it all – this year, ever day is a new challenge, a new part of France and it’ll definitely feel like being on ‘The Tour’.
There’s so much variety, I’m not sure where to start! Check out stage 3: rapidly changing views, something a bit different, plenty of villages and rural views: can’t wait. And then look at stage 7 heading from Troyes up high enough for proper vistas and then sweeping down into wine country.
I’ve got a soft spot for the wild Pyrenean scenery so stages 12 and 13 have obvious appeal – but then the transition from Pyrenees to Alps over stages 14-16 (particularly 15) will be jaw droppingly beautiful going by the images we saw at the route presentation.
I remember the Embrun to Chorges time trial of 2013 and have been wanting to return ever since – stage 19 with mountains in the distance and a huge lake below will be a stunner!
I’m pleased that we’re again going over the Cols du Telegraph and Galibier as, in 2015, when the race last used these mountains, we were unable to complete them because a huge landslip had blocked the Galibier. From the route presentation it looks like there may well be a lot of lovely lakes and valleys to cycle through and I suspect there will be a couple of stages (maybe 6 for example) that turn out to be a lot more challenging than they look on paper. Finally I’m excited to ride the Mont du Chat, which is new to me, as its final 6 kilometres look to be some of the steepest of the race….I think making it over that climb at the end of an already tough day will be very rewarding.