Tour Guide

Here’s the 2017 Tour de France guide. There’s a profile of every stage with a quick take on the day as well as details on the points and mountains competitions, the suggested unmissable stages and more.

You’ll find this post duplicated as a page which you can access with the navigation bar at the top of the page for desktop browsers / drop down menu for mobile browsers. 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, a tricky descent and then 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 onwards to 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, 16, 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, 19): 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:

  • 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

43 thoughts on “Tour Guide”

  1. Very much looking forward to this year’s race. I’m not usually a betting man and I’m even less likely to this year based on the main contenders’ performances recently – It’s all feels very open, especially with the lack of TT miles.

    p.s. Which stage is that last pic from? It’s fantastic!

  2. What. An. Image.

    Cyclingnews podcast saying Froome doesn’t race with panache. What does the guy have to do…
    Hopefully photos like that will tell the real story – so many wonderful mountain attacks over the years and now he’s adding brilliant descents and flat attacks to the bundle.

    I’ve always found Froome wonderfully exciting to watch and feel timid opposition and coming after Wiggins-trains has negatively affected the public perception of Froome’s watchability. I even find it exciting when he drops of in Vuelta and rides by numbers – it’s something to talk about at least! More than most the favourites say…

    Viva Pinot & Bardet for excitement value, think Porte’s new found confidence will make for great watching and Contador likely to spice up a few stages.

    Snorefest Quintana may come good with another friendly course to his skillset, Valverde likely to follow pretty boringly and then strike a few times *(fair enough with his ability)… except Chavez to fall away due to injury, but doubt he and Yates would be that spectacular in any case…

    Fully expect Froome to add another nail in the coffin of being Monsieur Dull even if it’s going down in flames.

    Thank You INRNG! This is all tres tres exciting. Fingers crossed Tommy V gets a final stage win farewell.

    • I can never decide whether my dislike for Thomas Voeckler stems from the shortness of his shorts or because of Carlton Kirby’s absurd man-crush on him. I concede that neither is particularly fair on the man or the rider, but it can be hard to shake a prejudice once it takes hold.

      Thanks for the overview of the stages, Inrng – it was also an invaluable resource in the Giro.

      • I found it hard to warm to Voeckler thinking he was a bit spiky and aloof but I think it’s largely a persona he adopted to deal with the press and protect himself and his family. That’s understandable, he didn’t have the most conventional upbringing and lost his father at sea. But he’s always been popular with his team, from fellow riders to the mechanics. And maybe he has softened a bit. Seeing him at the Tour de Yorkshire this year and last, he was warm and engaging, genuinely seemed moved by the reception he got. There is footage of him taking part this year in a bikes for kids initiative before the race got under way which might help change your mind if you can track it down.

        • Wasn’t aware of his back-story (though as noted above, my prejudices entirely superficial!). Will see if I can find that Tour de Yorkshire footage. Thanks!

    • Is your ‘Monsieur Dull’ Nairo Quintana?

      Whilst he’s not my favourite racer, he deserves huge credit (as will his bank balance, no doubt!) for doing the Giro / Tour double. It will be fascinating to see how he goes.
      What if he goes very well – will it usher in a new modern era of GC?
      You can imagine that there will be plenty in RCS’ camp cheering him on.

      In his favour too, he has Valverde back. I think Quintana may have won the Giro if he’d had Valverde with him.
      And Contador to act as a catalyst.
      If there’s such a thing as secret pacts, could a Quintana / Valverde / Contador alliance repeat their Vuelta mystique?

    • I don’t find Froome dull but maybe some people do because all his moves are on the *final* ascent or recently the *final* descent or once the *final* few kms of a flat stage and only after being set up by his team. Most contenders ride like that most of the time except they don’t often have such a strong team.

      If Froome finds himself 3 minutes down at some stage during this TdF then we’ll really see if he can ride with panache. I suspect he would but several other riders have *already* proven they will, even boring valverde and Quintana.

    • Cyclingnews podcast is truly awful…´s got no structure and relatively no idea as far as I´m concerned. Try thecyclingpodcast with Daniel Friebe, Lionel Birnie and Richard Moore….much more insight.

  3. A few initial thoughts:

    Stage 1 – a romantic Tony Martin victory and Yellow on his home soil?

    Stage 2 – Belgium. There *has* to be an attempt at a high-class breakaway surely? GVA, Quick Step? Weather?

    Stages 3/4 – the return to France, can Arnaud Demare wear the Maillot Jaune? (Hope s0).

    Stages 9/13 Bardet and on Bastille Day too?

    In general; the weather as usual will play a role.
    I’m fearing a significant crash or two with all those sprints and downhill finishes, particularly it it’s wet.
    Loads of breakaways too – Pinot. Inner Ring should be in his element here 🙂 As a Brit, I’m hoping that Steve Cummings has got back to his best.
    Can’t wait.

    • Stage 1 – yep, but is it too short for Martin?

      Stage 2 – agreed. although any winds, surely the writing’s on the wall for a Quickstep victory.

      Stage 3/4 – good shout, bet Demare’s too far off Yellow by then though – and can he really take Kittel et al in a sprint? I think a stage win this year is possible though, it’s overdue.

      Stage 9/13 – I just wonder whether this route plays to Bardet wreaking havoc on more stages than just these? He knows he cannot outclimb the best, but there are so many opportunities for chaos if he teams up with Contador to goes for it from the off? He’s been 2nd so a podium isn’t the best reward, same goes for Contador, they know the likely scenario if they do push things early – I think for this to be an a legendary tour, it’s down to those two.

      other predictions
      5 Porte. Valverde/Martin is the pace doesn’t explode.
      6 Demare.
      7 Kittel.
      8 Tommy V/Cummings
      9 Froome/Bardet.
      10 Kittel.
      11 Kittel.
      12 Pinot.
      14 Sagan.
      15 Swift.
      16 impossible to really even give vague guess. to many variables.
      17 Froome.
      18 Porte/Quintana
      19 Cavendish (if he’s still in the race)
      20 Porte/Froome.
      21 Kittel.

      My thinking is the will be a year without many unusual victors or first timers – the battles will be so fierce on GC that the scraps will be gobbled up by the other big names – Sagan, GVA, Kittel.

      I have a hunch Swift will nab a stage though.

      Porte to take GC by less than 30secs.

  4. Great informative article.
    NBC Sports Gold (cycling subscription) for $40/year has a lot of the major cycling races live and full replays for those in the USA. Daily TDF coverage. Watching on the TV via Roku beats the internet on a pc monitor.

  5. “A confounding mix of terrain…”

    That about sums it up. Could it be a race for those with more in the way of race-craft and nous?

    With plenty of climbing but not many hors category climbs, and a chance for tactics to come t0 the fore – Valverde to go well, with Quintana as super-domestique, perhaps?

      • I’d suggest looking at climbs by their label is useful for a quick take but it’s too reductive, the Jura climbs on Stage 9 are very different to other HC climbs like, say, the Galibier because they’re steeper and more intense. What Ragtime Cyclist might be trying to say is that there are not so many long high altitude climbs?

    • Don’t think the stages before it are hard. Short stages can be very good if there are a couple of hard multi-mountain stages before them – means the domestiques are exhausted and once attacks start coming the race can break in pieces very quickly. This one might be a damp squip though.

  6. Any stats on how this course compares to the Giro just gone in terms of average stage length and total vertical gain? Intuitively it feels a lot less ‘epic’.

    Normally I’d prefer more TT km to create bigger gaps so the pure climbers have to go from further out, but it’s obvious ASO don’t want to handicap the likes of Bardet. If Froome or Porte win this year and Bardet doesn’t push them close I expect a big increase in TT km next year to give Dumoulin his best chance.

    Will be looking forward to stage 18 most of all, not least because I did those climbs last autumn and will be interested to see how easy the pros make them look. The thing they don’t tell you is, unlike the super-even ski-station climbs, there are some significant downhill bits, that feel very demoralising because you know you’re losing your hard-earned vertical gains and will have to do them all over again…

    • No stats because they’re not supplied and trace all the stages is a big job for another day but the difference is the Giro had gentler climbs, the ski station access roads and the Tour has steeper climbs, the Jura forest roads, Peyragudes etc, when it’s normally the reverse.

  7. Only 2 real mountain stages in the Alps/Pyrenees. 3 other hill top finishes. Not much. TDF profile prepared especially for Bardet (not much TT kms neither in which Bardet really poor).

  8. The first picture up top from last year’s TdF is a good reminder that it doesn’t necessarily take summit-top finishes for Froomey to take the lead–he can do it on the flats with an opportunistic breakaway too. And let’s not forget he has a bit of a kick sprint when he’s in the right finishing group. As the old adage goes: it’s the riders that make the racing on any given day, and not necessarily the parcours.

  9. Quote : “Hors Catégorie passes (6 in total): 20-15-12-10-8-6-4-2 points respectively for first 10 riders”

    Something does not add up mathematically here.

    May I state my appreciation for your excellent blog.

  10. It’s a weird course with very few TT’s and comparatively few serious mountain stages. I’m not sure you can say its designed to suit Bardet, more that its to try and prevent Froome/Sky totally dominating it. If they had put big time bonuses on the stages a la Moser/Saronni era Giri then you could’ve said it was to suit somebody like Valverde or even a Matthews or GVA. Personally I’d rather see more time trialling and a couple more mountain stages.

    • Agree, as much as i want to see exciting racing it would also be nice if the best rider won the most important race of the year.

      This course seems like anyone who can hang on in the mountains, and not do a terrible TT could just get ‘lucky’ on one day and be ahead of a crash or a split in the peleton and take 1-2 minutes on one stage which would be enough to win the overall.

  11. “Again the rider with the most points wears the jersey and the race celebrates the 40th anniversary of the jersey this year.”

    Isn’t it 42 years? As I recall, the polka dot jersey was introduced in 1975, not 1977.

    Thanks for your previews and insight throughout the year!


  12. Thanks as ever INRNG. Essential reading.

    Expect the unexpected the French want… how about Froome puts the big dog on for Saturday, takes 30secs from other GC guys and then its catch-up as per normal.. Sorry.

    And i hope that’s not the scenario we get.

  13. Good work INRNG!
    anything in the pipeline for predications? I’ve got to do my velogames team and I’m holding off in case there’s some gems on the way 🙂

  14. I see this Tour as the Tour de Opportunism. Its a parcours for those who are prepared to try and win a race rather than wait for their natural terrain to turn up so they can batter the opposition. Personally, I like that. I’m not one of those who wants 20 mountain stages because they think bike racing is only really about climbing a mountain. I want an all round test, a test in which the rider is also challenged to think on the hoof (or the pedal, as it were) and I think that, actually, the ASO have done a pretty good job of delivering that. Even the seemingly strange stage 19 (surely there must be some more mountains down there?) offers the possibility of wind. I hope this course will provide a yellow jersey who had the guts and nous to take risks and try to win this race and less of the wheel sucking fair we often see in the TDF. In short, I hope the winner is someone who saw the course as an opportunity to win rather than someone who rode it scared to lose.

  15. I see that this year only the 19th stage finish gets double KOM points.
    Last year 9-12-17-19 KOM finish stages got double points.
    I thought the finish on 5th and 12th stage this year would also get double KOM points.
    Then the HC category has been slightly lesser win points this year than last.

    You sure about this ?

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