This year will be the 104th edition of the Tour de France. The race will begin with an individual time trial in Düsseldorf, Germany on 1 July 2017, and will finish with the Champs-Élysées stage in Paris on 23 July 2017. A total of 198 riders from 22 teams will participate in the race.
The Tour will visit three neighbouring countries in this year’s edition, Germany Belguim and Luxemburg. This is the fourth time that the Tour has started in Germany and the first since 1987. The return to Germany follows a resurgence in German cycling with riders, including Tony Martin, Marcel Kittel, André Greipel and John Degenkolb, enjoying success worldwide.
The full route contains two individual time trial events, which have a combined length of 36 km. The remaining nineteen stages are divided into four categories: eight flat, three hilly, three medium mountain and five mountain stages. The longest road stage is stage 19 at 220 km long and the shortest is stage 14 at 100 km long. In total the Tour this year will cover a distance of 3,540 km.
The most exciting race days in the Tour are the stages that finish on a mountain. General classification riders such as Chris Froome, the winner of the Tour in 2013, 2015 and 2016, use these days to attack and gain time on their competitors in the fight for the Yellow Jersey and ultimately winning the Tour. This year’s edition of the Tour visits the five main mountain ranges of France including the Vosges, the Jura, the Pyrenees, the Massif Central and the Alps. The rest of the stages are fought for amongst the sprinters and on the rare occasion the break-away may take the win.
The only African team at the Tour De France, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, have a strong presence in the peloton with a number of riders from Eritrea, South Africa and Rwanda representing Africa. The team are waiting on their sprinter, Mark Cavendish from Great Britain, to recover from glandular fever. Mark is ranked a close second behind the great Eddy Merckx for the most stage wins at the Tour. Should he recover in time, with enough training, the 8 flat stages on offer this year will give him ample chance to equal and possibly even better that record.
This year looks to be an exciting edition of the Tour de France with the likes of Chris Froome, Richie Porte, Alberto Contador and Romain Bardet fighting it out as the big pre-race contenders, but there is always a chance of a surprise and that is what makes the racing so exciting.