Tour de France Guide

Here’s the 2017 Tour de France guide. There’s a profile of every stage with a quick take on the day added. In addition on the morning of every stage there will be a full preview.

Route Summary
A confounding mix of terrain. There are two short time trials totalling 36.5km, only 2015 had fewer. There are few summit finishes, just the short climb to the Planche des Belles Filles, then Peyragudes and the Izoard and just three other mountain stages. The idea is that with fewer set piece opportunities it’s up to riders and teams to formulate alternative tactics. If there are fewer summit finishes and fewer time trials one thing there is more of is sprint finishes with nine possible sprint finishes.

Stage 1 – Saturday 1 July

Twice the distance of a prologue, the opening stage is a chance to shape the overall classification from the start. The course is totally flat except for bridges over the river Rhine.

Stage 2 – Sunday 2 July

The race says auf wiedersehen to Germany and heads for Liège and a finish on the Boulevard de la Sauvenière, once the finish of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and perhaps again soon too but this stage avoids most of the Ardennes and suits the sprinters.

Stage 3 – Monday 3 July

A hilly day across three countries before a tricky uphill finish to the citadel in Longwy, a stage finish for the likes of Peter Sagan, Alejandro Valverde or Michael Matthews.

Stage 4 – Tuesday 4 July

After a start in Mondorf, home to the Schleck family, the race heads for a likely sprint finish in the spa town of Vittel, home to the bottled water brand owned by food multinational Nestlé that is a major sponsor of the Tour.

Stage 5 – Wednesday 5 July

The first summit finish of the race with the familiar Planche des Belles Filles, a short sharp climb. It’s been used before but unlike last time in 2014 where it came after a succession of hard climbs this time there’s a more direct approach.

Stage 6 – Thursday 6 July

A likely sprint stage over rolling terrain where the roads seem to rise and fall all the time, the proverbial roller coaster route. They’ll sprint through Colombey unlike 1960 when the race stopped to bow before President De Gaulle and they’ll sprint again in Troyes.

Stage 7 – Friday 7 July

A race across wine country to the delight of many in the race convoy and the press room.

Stage 8 – Saturday 8 July

The race heads into the Jura mountains and a draining day across several long climbs before the finish in the small ski station of Les Rousses. The climbs are steady rather than steep and this should be a good day for a breakaway.

Stage 9 – Sunday 9 July

The route doesn’t hit hypoxic heights but the three hors catégorie labels are well deserved. An uphill start and then over to the steep Col de la Biche, followed by a tricky descent and the Grand Colombier, climbed by directissime approach with long sections at 15% and a road sign that warns of 22%. There’s the fast descent to the Rhone valley and then the Mont du Chat as featured in the Dauphiné before its scary descent to the finish in Chambéry. There should be action up front and stress in gruppetto behind to make the time cut.

Stage 10 – Tuesday 11 July
Grand Colombier Stage
After a rest day, a jaunt around sunflower country to Bergerac with gentle landscapes, sleepy rivers and fields of sunflowers.

Stage 11 – Wednesday 12 July

A race to the foot of the Pyrenees and another likely sprint stage.

Stage 12 – Thursday 13 July
Tour de France Stage 12
A hard day in the Pyrenees, the first 100km include several draining foothills and the next half is outright mountainous including the long and draining Port de Balès with an 8% gradient for much of the way before the Col de Peyresourde and then a sting in the tail, a finish on the runway of Peyragudes airport which sounds banal but it’s a mountain altiports with a 16% gradient. You might have seen it before as it featured in the James Bond film Goldeneye and the accompanying video game.

Stage 13 – Friday 14 July
Tour de France Stage 13
Bastille Day in France and the fireworks aren’t reserved for the evening. At just 101km this is a promising stage with several untypically steep climbs and twisting descents before a fast run to the finish in Foix where any team leader isolated from their helpers can flounder.

Stage 14 – Saturday 15 July

A scenic stage up the Tarn valley past the Gaillac vineyards and then to the Aveyron and a finish in Rodez, the same uphill finish used in 2015 when Greg Van Avermaet pipped Peter Sagan. Like the stage to Vittel there’s a sponsor link as it’s right outside the HQ of RAGT, the agriculture business that backs this race.

Stage 15 – Sunday 16 July
Tour de France Stage 15
A mid-mountain stage, many riders will have marked this day as their chance to get in the breakaway and take a shot at a stage win. This one could offer more action in the first two hours than the last two with a hilly start but the Peyra Taillade is hard especially as they take a short cut to the top which saves on distance but doubles the slope.

Stage 16 – Tuesday 18 July
Tour de France Stage 15

A duel between the bunch and the breakaway, the early terrain can allow a sizeable group clear even if it’s not as mountainous as the profile suggests at first glance. Then it’s straight to Romans-sur-Isère, home to a sprint finish in last year’s Paris-Nice.

Stage 17 – Wednesday 19 July
Tour de France Stage 17

An Alpine arpeggio that hits the high notes all day long with the hard Croix de Fer as a mere warm-up for the Télégraphe-Galibier combo and then 28km downhill to the finish which sounds long but it’ll take minutes.

Stage 18 – Thursday 20 July
Tour de France Stage 18
A summit finish on the Izoard after the hard Col de Vars. This is a theatrical finish with the unique landscape.

Stage 19 – Friday 21 July
Tour de France Stage 19
A transition stage and a marathon 222km and a battle between the sprinters’ teams and the breakaways. On paper it looks dull but on paper there’s no wind and this is the kind of terrain that can be blasted by the Mistral wind.

Stage 20 – Saturday 22 July
Tour de France Stage 20
A time trial around the city of Marseille including the steep climb to the Notre Dame basilica with a twist of the start and finish inside the Orange Vélodrome… a football stadium.

Stage 21 – Sunday 23 July
Tour de France Stage 21
Ah Paris! A parade that mutates into a criterium but this year’s version is short, just 103km. After a suburban start past the dormitory suburbs of Paris the race heads for the glories of central Paris and a finish normally reserved for visiting heads of state.

The Jerseys

Yellow: the most famous one, the maillot jaune, it is awarded to the rider with the shortest overall time for all the stages added together, the rider who has covered the course faster than anyone else. First awarded in 1919, it is yellow because the race was organised by the newspaper L’Auto which was printed on yellow paper. Today it is sponsored by LCL, a bank. There are time bonuses of 10-6-4 seconds for the finish of each stage except the time trials.

Green: the points jersey, which tends to reward the sprinters. Points are awarded at the finish line and at one intermediate point in the stage and the rider with the most points wears the jersey. It is sponsored by Skoda, a car manufacturer

  • Flat stages (Stages 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 19, 21) 50-30-20-18-16-14-12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3 and 2 points for the first 15 riders
  • Hilly finish-Medium mountain stages (Stages 3, 5, 8, 14, 15, 16): 30-25-22-19-17-15-13-11-9-7-6- 5-4-3-2 points
  • Mountain Stages (Stages 9, 12, 13, 17, 18): 20-17-15-13-11- 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points
  • Individual time trial stages (Stages 1 and 20): 20-17-15-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points
  • Intermediate sprints: 20-17-15-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points

Polka dot: also known as the “King of the Mountains” jersey, points are awarded at the top of categorised climbs and mountain passes, with these graded from the easier 4th category to the hors catégorie climbs which are so hard they are off the scale. In reality these gradings are subjective. Again the rider with the most points wears the jersey. It is sponsored by Carrefour, a supermarket.

  • Hors Catégorie passes (6 in total): 20-15-12-10-8-6-4-2 points respectively for first eight riders
  • Points are doubled for the hors catégorie Col d’Izoard on Stage 18: 40-30-24-20-16-12-8-4
  • Category 1 climbs (11 in total): 10-8-6-4-2-1 points
  • Category 2 (4): 5-3-2-1 points
  • Category 3 (14): 2-1 points
  • Category 4 (16): 1 point

White: for the best young rider, this is awarded on the same basis as the yellow jersey, except the rider must be born after 1 January 1992, ie aged 25 or under. It is sponsored by Krys, a retail chain of opticians.

Obviously a rider can’t wear two jerseys at once, they’d get too hot. So if a rider leads several classifications, they take the most prestigious jersey for themselves and the number two ranked rider in the other competition gets to wear the other jersey. For example if a rider has both the yellow jersey and the mountains jersey they’ll wear yellow while whoever is second in the mountains jersey will sport the polka dot jersey. If a rider has all the jerseys the priority yellow, green, polka dot then white.

There’s also a daily “most combative” prize awarded every day to the rider who has attacked the most or tried the hardest. It is a subjective prize and awarded by a jury. The rider gets to stand on the podium after the stage and wear a red race number the next day. There will be a final Supercombatif prize with involvement from the jury and social media. It is sponsored by Antargaz, a bottled gas company.

The unmissable stages
This is the Tour de France and there’s always something to watch but there are some stages that matter more than others. If you need to plan ahead and book space in your diary, here are some suggestions for the stages to watch.

  • Stage 2: the sprint finish is the interest, a sprint royale among the top names
  • Stage 5: the Planche des Belles Filles summit finish
  • Stage 9: the Jurassic trilogy with the Mont du Chat
  • Stage 12: the long distance Pyrenean stage
  • Stage 13: the short distance Pyrenean stage
  • Stage 17: the Alpine classic
  • Stage 18: the Izoard summit finish
  • Stage 20: the Marseille TT to determine the overall classification

TV Guide
Every stage will be shown live from start to finish. Think of it like the radio, something to have in the background if you can or in a more modern way you can tune in from time to time via your phone in case there’s early action. Except for the first and last stage, the finish time is forecast for between 5.00pm-5.30pm CET.

The race will be broadcast on a variety of channels around the world. There is no free stream on the internet but you will find a feast of legitimate feeds from local broadcasters and international sources like Eurosport.

The Prizes

  • Each day on a normal stage there’s €11,000 for the winner, €5,500 for second place and a decreasing scale down to a modest €300 for 20th place
  • For the final overall classification in Paris, first place brings in €500,000 and the Sèvres porcelain “omnisports trophy”, awarded “in the name of the Presidency of the French Republic”. The full breakdown is €500,000 for first place, €200,000 for second place, €100,000 for third place and then €70,000, €50,000, €23,000, €11,500, €7,600, €4,500, €3,800, €3,000, €2,700, €2,500, €2,100, €2,000 €1,500, €1,300, €1,200 and €1,100 for 19th place. €1000 for 20th-160th overall

There are other pots of money available in the race:

  • €500 a day to whoever wears the yellow jersey, €300 for the other jersey holders
  • €25,000 for the final winner of the green and polka dot jerseys
  • €20,000 for the final winner of the white jersey
  • There’s also money for the first three in the intermediate sprint each day: €1,500, €1000 and €500
  • The climbs have cash too with the first three over an HC climb earning €800, €450 and €300 and lesser sums for lesser climbs
  • The highest point in the race sees a prize when on Stage 17 the Henri Desgrange prize is awarded at the top of the Galibier and is worth €5,000
  • The “most combative” prize is awarded and worth €2,000 each day, the “Super combative” prize is awarded in Paris and the winner collects €20,000.
  • There’s also a team prize with €2,800 awarded each day to the leading team on the overall, as calculated by the best three riders overall and €50,000 for the final winners in Paris. Note the team prize is calculated by adding the time of the best three riders each day rather than the best three on GC. For example if a team has riders A, B and C make the winning break one day then their times for the stage are taken and added together. If riders X, Y and Z on the same team go up the road the next day, their times are taken. So it’s the times of a team’s best three riders each day as opposed to the best three riders overall.

The total prize pot is €2,295,850, meagre for an event of this scale but remember that unlike, say tennis or golf, pro cyclists are salaried and prize money instead is incidental and the money is shared around the team (as well as levied and taxed) rather than pocketed by the winner. In addition, every team that starts gets paid €51,243 to cover expenses. And should a squad make it to Paris with seven or more riders they stand to collect an additional €1,600 bonus for each rider.

Downloadable Calendar
iCal Tour de France
You can download or subscribe to the iCal file with all 21 stages for your diary with summary info and a star rating to show the best and most important stages. Just head over to

Horse of the Year July 13, 2017 at 7:41 pm

Peyragudes featured in Tomorrow Never Dies I think., not Goldeneye.

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