Tour de France 2017 preview: Fourth Title for Froome?

Tour de France 2017

Stage 1, Saturday July 1 Düsseldorf to Düsseldorf (14km) – ITT
Stage 2, Sunday July 2 Düsseldorf to Liège (203.5km)  – Flat
Stage 3, Monday July 3 Verviers to Longwy (212.5km) – Hilly
Stage 4, Tuesday July 4 Mondorf-les-Bains to Vittel (207.5km)
Stage 5, Wednesday July 5 Vittel to La Planche des Belles Filles (160km) – Hilly
Stage 6, Thursday July 6 Vesoul to Troyes (216km) – Flat
Stage 7, Friday July 7, Troyes to Nuits-Saints-Georges (214km) – Flat
Stage 8, Saturday July 8, Dole to Station des Rousses (187.5km) – Hilly
Stage 9, Sunday July 9, Nantua to Chambéry (181.5km) – Mountain
Rest Day Monday, July 10th  Dordogne

Stage 10, Tuesday July 11, Perigueux to Bergerac (178km) – Flat

Stage 11, Wednesday July 12, Eymet to Pau (203.5km) – Flat

Stage 12, Thursday July 13, Pau to Peyragudes (214.5km) – Mountain

Stage 13, Friday July 14, Saints Girons to Foix (101km) – Mountain

Stage 14, Saturday July 15, Blagnac to Rodez (181.5km) – Hilly

Stage 15, Sunday July 16, Laissac-Sévérac l’Église to Le Puy-en-Velay (189.5km) – Hilly

Rest Day Monday July 17 Le Puy-en-Velay

Stage 16, Tuesday July 18 Le Puy-en-Velay to Romans-sur-Isère (165km) – Flat

Stage 17, Wednesday July 19 La Mure to Serre Chevalier (183km) – Mountain

Stage 18, Thursday July 20 Briançon to Izoard (179.5km) – Mountain

Stage 19, Friday July 21 Embrun to Salon-de-Provence (222.5km) – Flat

Stage 20, Saturday July 22 Marseille to Marseille  (22.5km) – ITT

Stage 21, Sunday July 23 Montgeron to Paris Champs-Élysées (103km) – Flat

 

The Rouleur Tour de France collection

 

Total Distance 3540km

 

9 Flat Stages

5 Hilly Stages

5 Mountain Stages

2 Time Trials

Peter Sagan

Previous Winners
2016 Chris Froome (GBR)
2015 Chris Froome (GBR)
2014 Vincenzo Nibali (ITA)
2013 Chris Froome (GBR)
2012 Bradley Wiggins (GBR)
2011 Cadel Evans (AUS)
2010 Andy Schleck (LUX)
2009 Alberto Contador (ESP)
2008 Carlos Sastre (ESP)
2007 Alberto Contador (ESP)

 

Five Time Winners
Bernard Hinault  1978-1979, 1981-1982, 1985
Eddy Merckx 1969-1972, 1974
Jacques Anquetil 1957, 1961-1964
Miguel Indurain 1991-1995

 

Three Time Winners
Greg LeMond 1986, 1989-1990
Chris Froome 2013, 2015-2016
Louison Bobet 1953-1955
Philippe Thys 1913-1914, 1920

 

Four Time Winners
None…

 

STAGES OF NOTE

 

Stage 5 – “Board of the Beautiful Girls”

 Chris Froome

The last time the Tour visited La Planche des Belles Filles, “The board of the beautiful girls”, in 2014, Vincenzo Nibali won the stage and kept the jersey. Rather more memorable was Chris Froome’s victory two years earlier, when Team Sky not only teed up Bradley Wiggins for the overall win, but showed their teeth for the first time as a fearsome, formidable unit, able to plan, and execute, a single goal to perfection. Setting new standards in teamwork and tactics (love it or hate it), Edvald Boasson Hagen and Australian Michael Rogers rode hard on the early part of the climb, eliminating as many contenders as possible, before passing the baton to Richie Porte who took Wiggins up to the 2km marker. Froome took over from there, delivering Wiggins steadily to the summit before it was safe for him to fly solo with 500m to go. Froome used Cadel Evans’ surge as a lead-out to catapult himself to the stage win. The rest, as they say…

 

Stage 8 – Chava’s Last Stand?

Sylvain Chavanel

The tiny Jura ski resort of Station des Rousses welcomed the second home win of the 2010 Tour de France, along with the second yellow jersey for Sylvain Chavanel. Chavanel was perfectly primed to take advantage of Fabien Cancellara’s wobbly time triallist’s legs on the final climb of the day. Chavanel has not since enjoyed such glorious days and, at 37, this year must be one of his last chances to shine.

 

Stage 9 – Full Chat

Eddy Merckx 1974

Mont du Chat may not have featured in the Tour de France since 1974, but it’ll feel pretty familiar to some of these riders, having also been the final up-and-over on stage 6 of this year’s Dauphiné. Jakob Fuglsang won a three-up finale that saw Richie Porte claim the maillot jaune. Although the Tour stage profile is a very different kettle of fish, with 40 extra kilometres and two equally testing climbs (Col de la Biche and Grand Colombier) before they even arrive at Mont du Chat, as it’s the final stage before the first rest day there’ll be incentives to get into – as well as stay out of – yellow. Could we witness a repeat?

 

Stage 18 – Mountain Due

Col de L'Izoard

The mighty Izoard awaits, a barren scree slope of pain peaking at 2,360m above sea level that could well provide the decisive moments of this year’s race – although that is more likely to come down to the 22.5km time-trial in Marseille. By this point, Chris Froome will either have ridden himself into shape – his Dauphiné performance was, unusually, less than convincing – or he will have cracked. We are in for a gripping contest here, either way.

 

EINS, ZWEI, DREI – GRAND DEPARTS IN GERMANY

1965 Cologne
WINNER: Rik Van Looy (Solo-Superia)
Rik van Looy

Caps, not hats… The Rouleur casquette in Tour yellow

 

After four successive wins, Jacques Anquetil stayed at home because he didn’t reckon another victory would earn him higher criterium fees. This Tour was wide open – perhaps too open: British star Tom Simpson had his bike stolen from outside the race headquarters in Cologne days before the start.

 

The Tour headed west from the city’s hulking Gothic cathedral for a whistlestop German jaunt: within 110 kilometres, they were over the Belgian border and Rik Van Looy sprinted to victory in Liège.

 

In the absence of his nemesis Anquetil, Raymond Poulidor was the big pre-race favourite, but 22-year-old Felice Gimondi prevailed. The neo-pro only started the race at late notice, at the insistence of his Salvarani directeur sportif Luciano Pezzi, after team-mate Battista Babini fell sick.

 

1980 Frankfurt
WINNER: Bernard Hinault (Renault)

Bernard Hinault 1980

The crowd roared for hometown hero Dietrich Thürau, but Hinault, fresh from winning his first Giro d’Italia, dashed their hopes in the opening 8km time-trial.

 

There had been pre-race talks of a rider’s strike over racing conditions, but it never materialised. However, another group followed up on their discontent. A 250-strong protest flared up over the lack of cycling infrastructure in Frankfurt, traffic restrictions and the city’s expenditure to host the Tour. Fifty-six people were detained following scuffles with the polizei.

 

The next day, TI-Raleigh took the race by the scruff of the neck, with Jan Raas winning a bunch sprint to Wiesbaden in the morning and the Dutch team taking the afternoon TTT in Frankfurt.

 

They set off for France on a 276-kilometre stage. In cold, rainy conditions, typical of that edition, four riders gained a lead that peaked at 24 minutes. Rudy Pévenage – later a team manager for Germany’s Telekom team – took the victory in Metz.

 

Midrace in the Pyrenees, maillot jaune Bernard Hinault carried out one of the Tour’s most dramatic abandons. Suffering with knee tendonitis, he sneaked out of the hotel under cover of darkness to avoid the press, and holed up in the house of his team-mate, Hubert Arbes. It left the way clear for Joop Zoetemelk to win his only Tour de France.

 

Legends mugs by Richard Mitchelson, including Bernard, Sagan, Froome et al

 

1987 West Berlin
WINNER: Jelle Nijdam (Superconfex)
Tour de France 1987

La Marseillaise trilling out next to the Reichstag for a Tour de France stage start? Strange, but true. The Grand Départ behind the Iron Curtain in Berlin was the furthest the Tour has ever been away from home, a full 1,000 kilometres from Paris. It was in line with the city’s 750th anniversary celebrations.

 

The saying goes that sport and politics shouldn’t mix, but this became more than a mere bike race. Amidst glasnost and the weakening of communism in the Eastern Bloc, there was a growing will to end the division of Berlin and Germany. On a visit that coincided with the Tour, French prime minister Jacques Chirac dubbed the Berlin Wall “an accident of history”. Within two and a half years, it was down.

 

In the days before the prologue, riders busied themselves trying to get through Checkpoint Charlie and pre-race favourite Stephen Roche toured an observation tower that surveyed the barbed wire-strewn no-man’s land that split West and East Germany. “Seeing it really brought home the awfulness of the situation. It was sobering to think that something like that could still happen in 1987,” he wrote in his autobiography, Born to Ride.

 

Dutchman Jelle Nijdam won the opening time-trial, run up and down Berlin’s famous Kurfürstendamm. It was the first chapter of a bloated Tour that numbered 26 stages, 207 starters and 4,231 kilometres – the longest Tour in the modern era.

 

The five stages in Germany were run in broiling heat in front of vociferous crowds. The ’87 edition was memorably fought out between Stephen Roche and Pedro Delgado in the Alps, and the Irishman emerged with the yellow jersey. Thirty years on, the Tour would do well to enjoy a similarly stirring Teutonic welcome and tussle for triumph.

 

Extract from the Tour issue 17.4, on sale now

Rouleur Tour Yellow T-Shirt – £30
Rouleur Yellow Cap – £15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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