Preview: Everything you need to know about Stage 1 of the 2017 Tour de France

by Matthew de Vroet


Date: Saturday, July 1
Start: Düsseldorf, Germany
Finish: Düsseldorf, Germany
Distance: 14km (8.7mi)

The opening 14km time trial along the banks of the Rhine river will see the first yellow jersey of the 2017 Tour de France rewarded. The Germans will hope to see local Tony Martin (Katshua-Alpecin) take the win however, he will be pushed to the limit by ex-ski jumper Primoz Roglic (Lotto NL-Jumbo) who has taken some impressive recent TT victories, as well as European Time Trial champion Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar). There will be plenty of riders hoping to spring a surprise and the GC men will not want to concede any unnecessary time early on in the Tour.

Christian Prudhomme, race director: “Of the 13 kilometers of the inaugural time-trial course, close to 10 will be set on the banks of the Rhine river or the bridges above it… and bends can be counted on the fingers of both hands! There will be no or almost no mystery; the “rouleurs” will have their word to say. In this speciality where a new generation is showing up, a multiple world-champion boosted by the support of his fans could well be the fastest man.”

Andre Greipel, Lotto-Soudal: “Many people I know will come to the start in Düsseldorf. That makes it very unique. During a fourteen kilometres long time trial you can’t take that in, but it is a nice thought that there are many familiar faces along the course.”

Christian Knees, Team Sky: “Just to get into the Tour de France team, even if the start wasn’t in Germany, would represent a great year for me. But with the Grand Depart in Germany, very close to my hometown – just 80 kilometres away – makes it very special. Dusseldorf is also the town where my wife used to live. I know it well so that makes it doubly special for me. I’m very proud to be there on the start line. The racing is definitely going to be exciting. I’m sure the crowds will be out, with the time trial on the opening day and the start of stage two. I know plenty of people in the area and it sounds like the schools and towns are all getting ready, painting bikes and dressing up the roadside. It’s a big deal for everybody, and I hope it will be a big celebration of cycling across the two days in Germany.”

Marcel Kittel, Quick-Step Floors: “”I am very happy and proud to be in Germany and experience a Tour de France start in my home country. Cycling is popular here, I could see that again this morning, when I was on the bike and saw only happy faces. A lot of people are looking forward to have the Tour de France back in Germany, and we want to give fans reasons to be proud of us. Having the Grand Depart here is an important step for the German community and I hope everybody will have a great time. Hopefully, the weather will be by our side and allow the fans to enjoy the race, while at the same time making it safer for us. My goal for the ITT is to do my best; just go into the race and ride full gas once I roll down the ramp. I am confident and I’ll see once the stage will be over if my ride can influence the possibilities I have on the second stage. But my primary focus is on the flat stages of the Tour, where we hope to show the same good form and fantastic team spirit that carried us here since the start of the season.”

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