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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

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Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence. - Erma Bombeck

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2017 Tour de France route team comments

Here's our 2017 Tour de France page.

2017 Tour de France route

Here's Lotto-Soudal's view of the 2017 Tour de France route:

Today the 104th Tour de France was officially presented at the Palais des Congrès in Paris. For the fourth time in the Tour history the Grand Départ will take place in Germany, the race kicks off on Saturday 1 July in Düsseldorf. The Tour will also visit Belgium with a finish in Liège on Sunday 2 July and a start in Verviers a day later.

Only 36 time trial kilometres are scheduled: thirteen in the opening time trial and 26 in the time trial on the penultimate day. The Tour will pass through all French mountain ranges next year: Vosges, Jura, Pyrenees, Massif Central and Alps. There is a summit finish on three stages: La Planche des Belles Filles (stage 5), Peyragudes (stage 12) and Izoard (stage 18). All these ingredients make it an atypical Tour, maintaining the finish on the Champs-Elysées on Sunday 23 July.

Lotto Soudal manager Marc Sergeant and Tony Gallopin attended the presentation. What’s their first impression of the route?

Marc Sergeant: “At first sight this Tour might seem not very spectacular, but it promises to be a very open race with stages for every type of rider. There are several stages that could surprise us. It’s possible that unexpected names will turn up to determine the race. Because of the low number of summit finishes the GC riders won’t get a chance to make a decisive move every day. It’s a Tour for sprinters and attackers. With a rider like André Greipel in the team we can only be happy with so many sprint stages. We also have riders in our team who can win after an attack, like Thomas De Gendt and Tony Gallopin. There are other riders in the team with the potential to perform well on this course too, but it’s too early to talk about selections.”

Tony Gallopin: “It’s a very beautiful and complete route next year. There are stages for all kinds of riders: sprinters, punchers and climbers. The Tour has included all French mountain ranges into the route, also the Jura which I know very well. There are several beautiful and tough stages. It will be another type of race every day.”

Team Sky's view of the route:

Team Sky Sport Director Nicolas Portal believes there will be only a limited amount of opportunities to gain time at the 2017 Tour de France, after the route was announced by race organisers ASO. Portal was in attendance at the route presentation with reigning champion Chris Froome and, speaking afterwards, he declared the route 'good' for the team, but warned that any time losses will be punished heavily.

With just three summit finishes on the route and only 36 time trial kilometres - including an opening prologue - the general classification race is set to be one of the tightest in years.

Portal said: "In general, we know it is always hard and interesting, but there are some big Alps and Pyrenees stages missing this year. That doesn't mean it's going to be easier though. It's a Tour where if you lose a bit of time, it will be pretty hard to bring it back on GC. In years gone by there have been big, big mountain stages where you could say OK that one wasn't very good for me, but let's wait two or three days and we can maybe do something again, gain some time back. But in this Tour, if you start to lose time, it will be pretty complicated."

The race will start in Dusseldorf, Germany, and move onto Belgium and Luxembourg, before reaching France on day four. The route will take in all five of the mountain regions in France yet it features less HC, first or second category climbs than the 2016 race - 23, compared to 28.

Portal is already eyeing up the race's first summit finish, atop La Planche des Belles Filles - where Froome won his first Tour stage in 2012 - on stage five and Portal believes that will create early splits between the contenders. "That will be the first proper summit finish," he added. "That will clearly be really hard and you will quickly see which five or six guys will play out the GC. If you can gain some seconds there then you need to do it. Obviously if you got the yellow jersey there it's pretty far from the finish, but as a team you would deal with that situation."

After the opening prologue blast around Dusseldorf the time trial bikes won't come out again until stage 20, for a 23km test against the clock in Marseille. "The time trial in Marseille will be hot and it is quite short, with a small climb in the middle of the parcours. It will be all about what is left in the tank after a long three weeks. The Tour is OK for Chris. It would be nice if we had more time trial kilometres because he is good at that, everybody knows that. But he's good at everything, even now at descending, and the team knows how to control a race in the crosswinds. He's a really good climber, so for us it's a good Tour."

Here's Etixx-Quick Step's report:

The 104th edition will visit three countries, tackle three mountain top finishes and put on the table two individual time trials.

For the first time in three decades, the Tour de France will kick off in Germany, where Düsseldorf will host a 13km-long stage against the clock suited to the powerful specialists of the discipline. One day later, on Belgian soil, the sprinters will get their first chance of glory, with the puncheurs set to fight for victory on Monday, in Longwy, after leaving Belgium behind and passing through Luxembourg.

The yellow jersey contenders are set for showdown early next year, in stage 5, which will take the peloton on the already familiar La Planche des Belles Filles. It will be the first of the three mountain top finishes of the 2017 edition, with Peyragudes and Col d'Izoard coming in the second half of the race; the latter will feature on stage 18 and will see the riders go up the infamous La Casse Désserte area.

A challenging individual time trial held over 23 kilometers in the Mediterranean city of Marseille will give the GC riders one more chance to reshuffle the overall standings, just one day before the race goes to Champs-Élysées for what will be the 42nd consecutive time that the Tour de France will conclude in Paris.

This year, Dan Martin raced the Tour de France for the fourth time in his career and completed the race in 9th place, notching up his first top 10 finish in the Grande Boucle. The 30-year-old Irishman attended Tuesday's presentation and has already made an idea on how the race might look like next summer.

"It's a good course for our team, because the sprinters will have plenty of opportunities, but there will be chances also for me and Julian. Having less time trial kilometers is another thing playing into my advantage, but with the second ITT coming on the penultimate day you still need to have some energy left in the legs after three hard weeks, otherwise you can lose a lot of time", said Dan, the first Irishman in 24 years to get a top 10 finish in the Tour de France. "Overall, it's a nice route and it suits me even better that the one of 2016. I think we'll see an aggressive race, with many opportunities to go to the attack, and this is very much to my liking."

Joining Dan Martin at the official route presentation was teammate Julian Alaphilippe, who got to wear the white jersey for six days at his debut in the competition and who made a short analysis of the parcours: "It's the first time that I'm coming here and I can say it's a nice experience. At first glance, this is a parcours which smiles to attackers and puncheurs, such as myself, but we need to do a proper recon in order to discover it, because it's difficult to know more after seeing just the map. What I can say is that I'm eager to discover other legendary roads and climbs of the Tour de France, such as Mont du Chat or Col d'Izoard."

And finally, here's what Ag2r-La Mondiale sent me:

Romain Bardet: "The Tour de France 2017 is really attractive with new climbs and a stage finish just beside Ag2r-La Mondiale team headquarters. It will be more challenging to ride the four French mountains. Many stages are unknown therefore it will be tricky. We will definitely have to be smart to perform.

The route seems to be less mountainous than last years, which is not an advantage for pure climbers. Izoard will be the most crucial ascent to climb. It is part of the cycling legend. Then we will have 36km to ride in time trial stages which is quite a lot. We will have to think carefully about our strategy because Marseille time-trial will be a decisive one. Finally, I am glad the last rest day is located close to my hometown, at the Puy en Velay. "

Vincent Lavenu: "Chambéry, Briançon:  I am delighted ! We could think Christian Prudhomme wanted to make me happy when we see this 2017 Tour de France.
One stage will end in Chambéry but it is incredible we are about to ride in front of my home after the Relais du Chat descent. Another stage will end in Serre Chevallier where I am skiing regularly and we will also have an official start in the city of Briançon where I am born. And I am not talking about the Izoard…

Organizers dared to come to the Alps once and coming a second time. It promises a ruthless battle.

This route appears to be homogenous because there will have stages for spinters, punchers and climbers. Certain days will be more difficult than others especially when riders will have to climb the Grand Colombier or Relais du Chat cols.
This Tour fits perfectly well riders who have an alpine profile such as Romain Bardet. That's why I can't wait to start this 2017 edition!"

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