2017 Tour rumors: Germany to France, via Belgium

Various news reports suggest the race will travel through Belgium after its grand depart in Germany.

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MILAN (VN) — The 2017 Tour de France, according to various reports, will skip the country’s northwest where it began this July to ride through the Jura Mountains, Pyrénées, and the Alps.

The Tour next year will start in Dusseldorf, Germany on July 1, organizer ASO announced last winter. The race will kick off with a 13-kilometer time trial Saturday and a stage start from Düsseldorf the next day.

Various Belgian newspapers report that the race will travel south through Belgium’s Wallonia region. Stage 2 should finish in Liège and stage 3 could start in nearby Verviers before entering the Tour’s homeland.

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The 2016 Tour began in Normandy, a region where troops landed on the D-Day invasion in 1944. In 2017, the Tour may not even come close to the area. Instead, various sources say the race will continue south toward the Jura Mountains and then cut to southwest France for the Pyrénées.

The race will return to La Planche des Belles Filles, reports France Bleu Besançon, where Sky’s Chris Froome won his first Tour stage in 2012. Froome went on to place second behind teammate Bradley Wiggins that year, and later won the 2013, 2015, and 2016 editions. The climb in the Jura Mountains runs 5.9 kilometers and reaches 14 percent in the final 200 meters, where Froome surged past Cadel Evans for the win.

The Grand Colombier and Mont du Chat could host another Jura battle a week in, on the Sunday before the first rest day. Le Dauphiné Libéré newspaper reported this week that stage 9 will travel up the hardest of the four sides of Grand Colombier and the 8.7km Mont du Chat before racing 25km down to Chambéry.

The rest of the Tour is coming into focus slowly. The riders will likely fly from Chambéry to Périgueux to continue the second chapter of the 2017 race.

The mountain stages in the Pyrénées and Alps will have most cyclists and fans tuning into the route presentation October 18. What ASO presents will play a part in who could win the 2017 edition.

ASO announced on Twitter that it would return to Pau, the city in the southwest that has often seen the riders off to their Pyrénéan battles. La Dépêche wrote that the Peyragudes ski station could host a stage finish as it did in 2012 when Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde won. If so, it will likely include the Peyresourde in the 15.4km summit finish.

The third and final week remains unclear. The Champs-Élysées finish in Paris is almost guaranteed for Sunday, July 23.

The Tour could ride into the history books. The race is expected to climb the 18.1km Col du Galibier from the north side and finish in Serre Chevalier on Friday (stage 19). Saturday, before the final stage in Paris, it could finish on the Col d’Izoard at 2,360 meters above sea level for the first time. Le Dauphiné Libéré reported that the stage will start in Briançon and climb Col de Vars (2,109 meters). In addition, it would be the L’Etape du Tour.

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