For the fourth time in its more than 100-year-old history, the Tour de France began in Germany. This year's edition of cycling's most prestigious race features fewer but steeper-than-usual mountain stages.
For the first time in the history of the Tour de France the Grand Depart, as the start of the race is known, took place in Düsseldorf. It was the fourth time that it has kicked off in Germany, after Cologne in 1965, Frankfurt in 1980 and West Berlin in 1987. The race began with a 13-kilometer (eight miles) time trial stage through the capital of the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
On the day after the time trials, the second stage departs from Düsseldorf and takes riders through the old town to the Grafenburg Forest, where a mountain classification is planned, before they ride on to the Neander Valley and Mettmann before returning to Düsseldorf. The first intermediate sprint will take place in Mönchengladbach and the stage will end in the Belgian city of Liege.
Riders and fans can look forward to a balanced route for the 2017 Tour de France, which shouldn't favor any particular style of rider. The only thing about the course that has raised eyebrows among the specialists is the fact that time trials make up less than 40 kilometers of the route. Apart from that, there is quite a bit of variety, with six stages for the sprinters along with three mountains stages. For the first time in the race's history, it will take the riders through each of France's mountain ranges.
What is unusual is that the queen's stage comes so early in the race, when the riders will climb to a 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) above sea level as they traverse the Cole de la Biche, the Colombier and the Mon du Chat to Chambery. This will make things complicated for contenders for stage wins, as they will have hardly any time to test out their legs and their opponents and on the ninth day, the cards will already be on the table.
Finish line on the Col d'Iozard mountain pass
Depending on the how much time there is between the riders going into the 18th stage, the Col d'Iozard could be where this year's overall race is decided. The mountain pass has often been part of the route but this will be the first time that a stage will end there. The 22-kilometer time trial in Marseille on the second-last day will give those specialists the chance to make up time, even though this won't be easy due to how short the course is. The riders will cover 3,540 kilometers over the 21 days of the race.
An overview of the stages:
July 1 - Stage 1: Individual time trial in Düsseldorf (14 kilometers)
July 2 - Stage 2: Düsseldorf - Liege, Belgium (203.5 kilometers)
July 3 -Stage 3: Verviers, Belgien - Longwy, France (212.5 kilometers)
July 4 - Stage 4: Bad Mondorf, Luxemburg - Vittel, France (207.5 kilometers)
July 5 - Stage 5: Vittel - La Planche des Belles Filles (160.5 kilometers)
July 6 - Stage 6: Vesoul - Troyes (216 kilometers)
July 7 - Stage 7: Troyes - Nuits-Saint-Georges (213,5 kilometers)
July 8 - Stage 8: Dole - Station des Rousses (187.5 kilometers)
July 9 - Stage 9: Nantua - Chambery (181.5 kilometers)
July 10 - rest day in Dordogne
July 11 - Stage 10: Perigueux - Bergerac (178 km kilometers)
July 12 - Stage 11: Eymet - Pau (203.5 kilometers)
July 13 - Stage 12: Pau - Peyragudes (214,5 kilometers km)
July 14 - Stage 13: Saint Girons - Foix (101 kilometers)
July 15 - Stage 14: Blagnac - Rodez (181.5 kilometers)
July 16 - Stage 15: Laissac-Sévérac l'Église - Le Puy-en-Velay (189.5 kilometers)
July 17 - rest day in Le Puy-en-Velay
July 18 - Stage 16: Le Puy-en-Velay - Romans-sur-Isere (165 kilometers)
July 19 - Stage 17: La Mure - Serre-Chevalier (183 kilometers)
July 20 - Stage 18: Briançon - Izoard (179.5 kilometers)
July 21 - Stage 19: Embrun - Salon-de-Provence (222.5 kilometers)
July 22 - Stage 20: Individual time trial in Marseille (22.5 kilometers)
July 23 - Stage 21: Montgeron - Paris (103 kilometers)