In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Tour 2017 unveiled: less time trialing, fewer climbs but steeper gradients; Froome weighs up 2017 Tour route: ‘It’s going to be more challenging for me’; Bardet reacts to 2017 Tour de France route; Froome still questions Wiggins’ use of TUEs; Cavendish set to ride with Wiggins’ in final race of career; MPCC says 2017 successful, reaffirms call for ban on corticoids; Live on-bike camera feeds, real-time performance data for Abu Dhabi Tour; Mathieu van der Poel ponders road racing; Gary West steps down as Cycling Australia track head coach; 2017 Tour de France 3D route; 2017 Tour de France Grand Depart in Dusseldorf; Froome talks about his 2016 Tour de France victory; An in-depth look at crosswinds and echelons from the Doha World Championships.
Your Wednesday Daily News Digest
Avoiding the most famous stage finishes of Alpe d’Huez and Mont Ventoux, the organisers of the Tour de France have opted for a course with many new climbs in the 2017 route. The parcours of the race was unveiled on Tuesday in Paris, and sees the race begin in Dusseldorf in Germany and visit Belgium and Luxembourg before reaching France on day four.
The race will visit all five of the mountain regions in France, beginning with the Vosges and Jura, then tackling the Pyrenees, the Massif Central and the Alps. There will be a total of 23 HC, first or second category climbs, compared to 25 in 2014 and 2015 and 28 in 2016. However the organisers point out the steepness of some of this year’s ascents, with peak gradients ranging from 14% on the Col de Perya Taillade to 22% on the Grand Colombier.
The 2017 Tour de France totals 3516 kilometres in all, spread over 21 stages, and features a short 13.8 kilometre time trial on the opening day and a 23 kilometre solo effort on the penultimate stage. There will be just three summit finishes, namely La Planche des Belles Filles on day five, Peyragudes on stage 12 and the Col d’Izoard on stage 18. The other mountain stages will conclude on descents, designed, perhaps, to help the 2016 runner-up Romain Bardet. He is vying to become France’s first winner since Bernard Hinault in 1985.
There will be a total of nine flatter stages which will appeal to rouleurs and bunch sprinters. Providing he is on form, this could give Mark Cavendish the platform to equal or beat Eddy Merckx’s all time stage win record of 34 victories. Cavendish brought his tally up to 30 in 2016 when he clocked up four stage wins.
According to race organiser Christian Prudhomme, one motivation behind the route design is to dissuade what he termed a ‘catenaccio’ racing style. He was referring to the dominance of one squad, taken to mean Team Sky, and he hopes that the route will help to achieve this goal. He has also echoed calls for teams to drop from nine to eight riders in the 2017 race. This too is intended to make things harder to control and to increase suspense.
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Today’s feature image is from the GP Zonhoven race. Photo: Kristof Ramon.