Tour de France 2017June 23, 2017
Tour de France preview
The 2017 Tour de France gets underway on Saturday 1st July when the field takes to the streets of Dusseldorf for the prologue. Yes, this year Germany fires off the starting gun for the Tour, before the route takes the field through Belgium and into more familiar territory in France.
The route and format is particularly interesting in this edition of the race for a number of reasons. To start with, the Stage 1 time trial is one of only two in this year’s event; and the total of these two stages combined is just 36km. There is also no team time trial this year. Another anomaly with the route, is the abundance of smaller, sharper climbs; yet lack of genuine mountain top finishes. Finally, there are far more time bonuses up for grabs for the top 3 place getters in key stages.
The 2017 edition of the race appears to be a lot more open than in year’s past. Chris Froome is still the bookmakers’ favourite, although he hasn’t shown the same sort of form in 2017, that has led him to win the past 3 Tours. In each of the 3 years that Froome has won the event, he also won the Criterium de Dauphine en-route to victory in Paris. This year’s Dauphine was taken out by Jakob Fugslang in thrilling fashion; a time bonus in the final stage, the only thing separating him and runner up Richie Porte in the General Classification. Froome was fourth, over a minute and a half off the pace.
Australian Richie Porte is the other major bookmaker fancy for the 2017 Tour de France. Porte has been in great form and was favoured to win the Dauphine, but he and his team were found wanting in the penultimate climb of the event. It remains to be seen if Porte really has what it takes to win a grand tour, he finished 5th last year, albeit he suffered terrible luck throughout the event.
Other contenders include: Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador, Fabio Aru, Jakob Fugslang and Romain Bardet. Of these, Nairo Quintana appears to have the best shot at victory. Doubts remain over Quintana though, after he chose to contest the Giro d’Italia in preparation for le Tour. For Contador, it’s been a long time since he was really competitive in a grand tour. It would be a major upset if any of Aru, Fuglsang or Bardet were to win, however, they all have a great chance of finishing on the podium.
Stage 5: The first battle between in the General Classification is likely to be fought during the mountain top finish at La Planche ds Belle Filles on Stage 5. A short but very steep climb concludes the Stage, it is here that Froome first asserted himself as a serious Tour de France contender.
Stage 9: The 9th stage of le Tour is brutal, featuring 3 Hors category climbs. Importantly, it is the treacherous descent down to the town Chambery which is likely to split the climbers. Time bonuses are also up for grabs for the first 3 place getters.
Stage 18: The last of the mountain stages may very well decide the winner of the race. Riders finish on top of the spectacular Col d’Izoard. With just a short 22.5km time trial in Marseille to come, GC contenders will be putting it all on the line in this stage.
- Winner: Chris Froome
- Top 3: Fabio Aru
Despite Richie Porte’s early season form, and Froome’s apparent lack of conditioning, it is a bridge too far to defeat Froome in a Grand Tour. If Froome’s form doesn’t improve, perhaps it will be Nairo Quintana. The consistent Fabio Aru appears to be a good bet to finish on the podium.