Cavendish will be pleased by an increase in sprint finishes, while Froome can duel for a fourth Tour triumph on the shorter but steeper mountain stages
Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome had reason to smile on viewing the 2017 Tour de France roadway should like to thank an increasing number of the number of sprint stages and a resuming emphasis on the shorter, steeper climb that have favoured Froome, three times the winner and once the runner-up in the past five Tours.
The Tour organiser, Christian Prudhomme, said his objective was a more open, less restrained race, with the aim of rediscovering a kind of cycling in the spirit of the five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault, who will be absent from the race in either an official or competitive capacity for the first time in more than 40 years as he has adjourned.
Whether the objective is reached remains to be seen. Prudhomme and his roadway finder, Thierry Gouvenou, have tried difficult to free up the race in the past few years to no obvious consequence, although Prudhomme too recited his calls for the UCI to enable a reduction in the number of equestrians in each unit from nine to eight, with the purpose of manufacturing it harder for teams to shut down a race.
There is a reduction in medium mountain stages, which are often the more difficult for squads to prevent a control on. That croaks against the tendency in recent years, as does a reversion to longer mountain stages. Next time there is only one day in the mountains under 160 km the second Pyrenean stage to Foix at 100 km while most are around 180 km.
With simply 36 km of age tests the final one in Marseille is merely 23 km long this will be another Tour for the climbers. Froome said: Its very light on time-trial kilometres but thats all part of the hasten and thats something Im going to have to focus my set on, being the best I can be on the clamber. Its about to become a race that is won or “ve lost” the mountains.
The 2017 Tour, which starts in Dsseldorf on 1 July, will have only four mountain-top finishes but they include the super-steep climb to La Planche des Belles Filles in the Vosges, where Froome acquired his first Tour stage in 2012. That is coming back stage five, terribly early in the hasten, and the serious climbing starts only four weeks later with a stage through the Jura containing 4,600 m of ascent and three steep ascents en route to Chambry: the Mont du Chat, Grand Colombier and Col de la Biche, all around 10 km long.
The major Pyrenean ascents such as the Aubisque and Tourmalet are absent, so too Mont Ventoux on the 50 th anniversary of Tom Simpsons demise on its ascents, but there is a return to Alpine giants such as the Cols de Croix de Fer and Galibier, with the final summit finish on the closing Thursday on the Col dIzoard, in accordance with the clamber of the Col de Vars, an absolute monster of a theatre, in Froomes words.
What is striking is the steepness of some of the clamber, beginning with an 11% ascent close to the finish of stage three at Longwy. As well as La Planche des Belles Filles and the climb in the Jura, the stage to Peyragudes in the Pyrenees includes an ascending at 16%, the following has the Mur de Pgure, stage 15 included the Col de Peyra Taillade, at 14%, while even the final duration tribulation takes in the 17% rising to La Garde. These are leg-breakers but again recent history proposes they are not usually sufficient to split up the strongmen.
After two years when the quota of flat theatres destined for a sprint finish has been low-grade seven in 2016, five in 2015 there is a distinct growth, with at the least nine stages suited to Cavendish and companionship, with a further two Longwy and Rodez including short climbing at or near the finish. Cavendish, with 30 stagecoach winnings, has grumbled that sprint openings on the Tour are being curtailed but next year, if his form is the same as in 2016, he had been able to close on Eddy Merckxs record of 34.
Hints that the womens hasten run alongside the Tour, La Course by the Tour de France, would be expanded to a multiday phenomenon were premature, as the hastens transformation in time was to enable it to be held alongside the stage finishing on the Izoard, the first time that La Course has moved from its initial format of a criterium on the Champs lyses. That they are able to partly placate those announcing for a tough street race but the distance of 67 km is suddenly for Lizzie Deignan, ne Armitstead, and her ilk, and the finish is likely to be 4km short of the top of the Izoard.
There are nods to history a visit to Charles de Gaulles home village of Colombey-les-Deux-glises on stage six, and a start in Montgeron, where the first Tour began in 1903 and to the venues sloped as part of Pariss bid for the 2024 Olympics, including Marseille and a passage right through Pariss Grand Palais on the final stage.
Most amusing as the British agonise over Brexit and surely an ironic nod to episodes by the organisers is the visit to Luxembourg on stagecoach four, which will pass through the town of Schengen, where such arrangements paving the course for the elimination of border controls in most of the EU was signed in 1985.