PA Sport

Chris Froome bid for fourth Tour title boosted by challenging route

Chris Froome bid for fourth Tour title boosted by challenging route
By PA Sport

18/10/2016 at 13:33

Briton Chris Froome will be optimistic of a fourth Tour de France title in 2017 after a challenging route was unveiled in Paris on Tuesday.

Briton Chris Froome will be optimistic of a fourth Tour de France title in 2017 after a challenging route was unveiled in Paris on Tuesday.

Froome won the 2013, 2015 and 2016 Tours and will be among the favourites for the 104th edition, which will visit all five of France's mountain ranges for the first time in 25 years.

The Col d'Izoard represents the final summit finish, before the penultimate day's time-trial in Marseille, which finishes inside the Stade Velodrome football arena. Froome likes tests against the clock, too.

"It's definitely going to be a climbers' race from what I can tell," Froome, who was at the route unveiling in Paris, said on cyclingnews.com.

"It's very light on time-trial kilometres but that's all part of the race and that's something I'm going to have to focus my training on, being the best I can be on the climbs.

"Certainly, from my first reaction there were quite a few stages going up over 2,000 metres.

"The Izoard goes up to 2,300 metres; that's going to be an absolute beast of a stage.

"Initial feelings are that it's going to be a race that is won or lost in the mountains.

"Of course, it's the Tour and anything can happen so we have to be ready for all eventualities."

Mark Cavendish will have chances to add to his 30 stage victories - second to Eddy Merckx's 34 - with nine stages for the sprinters on a 3,516 kilometres route that begins in Dusseldorf, Germany, with a 13km time-trial.

La Course by Le Tour, the women's race which has run in Paris in each of the last three years, will take place in the Alps in 2017.

The women's peloton will compete over 66km from Briancon to the Col d'Izoard.

The race remains over one day despite suggestions it might be extended.

The venue for the Grand Depart was already known. The Tour will start in Germany on July 1, 2017, 30 years after the 1987 Grand Depart in Berlin, before passing through Belgium and Luxembourg.

The Tour will visit the Vosges, Jura, Pyrenees, Central Massif and Alps mountain ranges for the first time since 1992, before the Paris finish on July 23, 2017.

Shorter, steep stages feature throughout the race as race organisers hope to make the race more dramatic and less controllable.

Rival teams struggled to break the tempo dictated by Froome's Team Sky squad in the mountains in recent years, but may have more opportunity in 2017.

There are three summit finishes - at La Planche des Belles Filles, where Froome won his first Tour stage in 2012; the Pyrenees ski station of Peyragudes; and the Col d'Izoard in the Alps - while other mountain stages finish following descents.

And the 23km time trial on the penultimate stage will be the final chance for time gains in the race.

The first sprint opportunity will likely be on stage two, the first road stage, finishing in Liege.

Further bunch sprints are likely on stage four to Vittel, stage six to Troyes, stage seven to Nuits-Saint-Georges and stage 16 to Romans-sur-Isere before the Champs-Elysees conclusion.

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