2017 has seen a hot start to the northern hemisphere summer and the as the weather starts to heat up, the European cycling races have been whetting the appetites for cycling fans worldwide. The start of July means that one of the world’s most recognisable sporting events is upon us. The iconic Le Tour de France, the most gruelling and most watched cycling race on the planet, the jewel in the crown of the three 'Grand Tours'.
The 2017 Tour De France is scheduled to start on July 1 with Australian rider Richie Porte (BMC) opening at the head of the market with UBET as odds favourite to win the general classification (Yellow Jersey) title. Former BMC team member Cadel Evans is the only Australian to have won Le Tour and Porte will be looking to emulate the deeds of his countryman and improve on his 5th placing in the 2016 edition.
Englishman Chris Froome (Team Sky) is on the 2nd line of the betting market as he goes in search of a three-peat after successive wins in 2015 and 2016 and his fourth overall after also claiming success in 2013. Not since the great Miguel Indurain claimed 5 successive Tour victories from 1991-1995, has a rider been able to win 3 straight, and Froome’s 2016 success saw him also become just the first since Indurain to win successive titles.
In 2017 the Grand Depart of the Tour will be from outside of France, with Stage 1 a 14km time trial in Dusseldorf, Germany with Stage 2 a 203.5km cycle out of Dusseldorf to Liege in Belgium. 23 days after starting and after 3,540km, the peloton will enter the French capital with the traditional finish into the streets of Paris and along the Champs-Elysees on Sunday July 23.
With Le Tour split in to 21 stages, UBET will offer markets for victory in each stage as well as other bet types across the gruelling 23 day event including, Le Tour de France Team Classification winner and King of the Mountains winner.
21 Stages split into -
The 2017 Tour will visit 3 neighbouring countries. With the race starting in Germany for the first time since 1987 and will also visit Belgium and Luxembourg. Riders will be competing for supremacy across 6 different categories.
The ‘maillot jaune’ is worn by the rider that is the leader of the general classification, basically the overall leader of the race. Chris Froome took the title in both 2015 and 2016. In the 2016 Tour, Froome first wore the Yellow following the completion of Stage 8 and did not relinquish for the remainder of the race. That followed his 2105 domination where he was in the yellow for the majority of Le Tour, taking the Yellow at the completion of stage 3, relinquishing after just 1 stage, then gaining it back at the end of stage 7 and wearing it for the remainder of the Tour.
The ‘maillot vert’ is worn by the leader of the points classification. Points are awarded every stage at an intermediate sprint point and at the finishing sprint, with the leader of this classification wearing the green jersey. The cult-hero, Peter Sagan of Slovakia will be out to defend his title and if he can secure the points title in 2017 will equal the record of the German Erik Zabel for most point classification victories. Zabel won the Green jersey on 6 successive occasions from 1996-2001, while Sagan has won the maillot vert the past 5 years in succession.
‘Maillot blanc a pois rouges’ is worn by the leading climber. At the top of every classified slope points are awarded for the leading rider, with double points awarded at summit finishes. The overall leading point scorer in this classification wears the Polka Dot Jersey. Russian rider Rafal Majka was able to secure the Polka Dot jersey in 2016. Majka first took the jersey at the completion of stage 8, relinquished it at stage 9 before gaining it back after stage 15 and holding it for the remainder of the Tour. That was the 2nd King of the Mountains title for the Russian after he was successeful in the 2014 Tour. In 2015 Chris Froome became the first rider since Eddy Merckx in 1970 to win both the general classification and mountain classification in the same year.
The ‘maillot blanc’ jersey is worn by the leading rider in the general classification category that is aged 26 and under. In 2016, Adam Yates of the Australian owned Orica team was the winner of the White Jersey. Yates first wore the jersey at the completion of Stage 7 and dominated the rest of the race for the age classification, wearing the maillot blanc until the completion of Le Tour and finishing 4th in the overall classification. Nairo Quintana won the 2nd of his White Jerseys in 2015 after previously winning the title in 2013. Quintana joined Marco Pantani, Jan Ullrich and Andy Schleck as the only riders to have won the maillot blanc on multiple occasions and he also holds claim to being the only rider to win both the white and polka dot jerseys in the same Tour.
There may be 4 clearly identified jerseys that show who leads each of those classifications, however there are also two other highly sought after categories that the riders will be chasing.
These are identified by the numbers worn on the jerseys of the rider.
‘Le Prix de la combativite’ is a discretionary prize awarded at the end of every stage. A panel of cycling experts decide on a winner at the completion of each stage with that winner then wearing a number on their jersey during the following stage. The winner of this category can be recognised by the race number worn on his back that shows a white number on a red background, whereas all other riders will have black numbers on a white background. At the completion of the Tour, the same panel then award the overall winner. The 2016 winner was Peter Sagan.
‘Le classement par equips au temps’ is awarded to the best team. The times of the 3 leading riders from each team are added together, with the winner the team that has the best time from their three accumulated times. The leading team is recognised by a yellow bib or the race number showing a black number on a yellow background and the riders in that team have the opportunity to wear a yellow helmet. During the period 2009-2014 the team classification was won by a different team each year. Movistar were the champion team in 2015 and were able to make it successive titles in 2016. The last team to win le classement par equips au temps on 3 successive occasions was T-Mobile, successful in the period 2004-2006.
Staged during the first week of the Tour, Stage 5 will be the shortest of the first 12 stages outside of the time trial on the opening day and comes after the riders have faced three consecutive days of greater than 200km in the saddle.
This will be the first summit finish of the 2017 Tour and will provide a good guide as to which of the key riders in line for the grand classification are ready to stand-up for that shot at the title and might just help sort out who are the main players to watch out for.
A stage of Le Tour has culminated at the summit in the Vosges mountains on two previous occasions. In 2012 is was the scene of Chris Froome’s maiden stage victory in the Tour when it was the seventh stage of that year’s race and in 2014 Vincenzo Nibali won the tenth stage en-route to his general classification victory in that year’s Tour.
It is a relative short final climb to the finish at just 5.9km, but it is a viscously steep ascent. The average gradient is 8.5% through this section and reaches a savage 14% before a brutalising leg burner that passes between 22% to 28% through to the finish line. If any of the main contenders are feeling the pinch in the first week, this could well put their chances to rest very early in the Tour.
Moving into the Jura Mountains for stages 8-9, it is stage 9 where the general classification riders are likely to be to the fore after stages 7 and 8 might be opened up by breakaways. This will serve as the last stage before the first rest day, which will be well received by many riders after stage 9 which looks to be particularly tough even by Tour de France standards.
There are three big climbs across the stage, broken into the Col de la Biche, the Grand Colombier and the Mout de Chat before a descent to the finish. The first climb of the Col de la Biche will see riders go from an elevation of 280m to the 1,325m of the summit.
Dropping to a mild 648m they then begin the next ascent to 1,501m of Grand Colombier. A descent over the next 22km will see them reach a low of 236m and maintain a relative plateau for the next 28km. The final climb of the stage will see riders through an elevation of 428m up to 1,504m at the summit of Mont du Chat in 13km.
It will be the first time since 1974 that Mont du Chat features in the Tour.
This is the second-longest stage in terms of distance on the 2017 Tour and will see the climbing action return following two days where the sprinters are likely to feature following the rest day.
The final ride to the summit of the Peyragudes will be seen for the first time in Le Tour with the finish line positioned on the runway of the Pyrenean airport!
This stage could well see the peloton blown apart with a series of successive climbs through the closing 80km making the stage brutally tough for even the most seasoned climbers.
From the 123km point through a 16km ascent, riders will go from an elevation of 519m to 1,349m at the peak of Col de Mente. A descent down to 612m will see them then ascend over 20km to 1,755m to the top of Port de Bales.
The final ascent is only a short 200m sprint, but at a 16% gradient.
An interesting stage at just a very short (by TDF standards) 101km and coming after what will be a brutal day in the saddle for the riders.
While the 101km may seem a short ride, there are three sharp climbs that must be negotiated before a downhill run to the finish. Add to this it is Bastille Day, July 14, where many of the French riders will be looking to secure national pride, it shapes as an enthralling stage.
The stage does offer ‘something for everyone’ with a fast finishing downhill section to finish, however it will be the general classification riders that you would expect to be to the fore along with the mountain men, in 3 steep climbs.
After ascending 5.6km to Col de Latrape, with a steepest point of 10.6%, they descend back down to the valley before tackling the climb to Col d’Agnes, a 10km section to the 1,570m summit.
The final climb will certainly sort the peloton out in a ferocious 24 hours on the bike, with the third climb of the day heading to the summit of Mur de Pegeure. A steady climb, it continues to punish the riders, reaching its steepest through an 18% gradient in 9.3km of agony. Once at the 1,375m summit there will be a 27km descent to the finish line in the village of Foix.
This will be the 3rd visit to Foix for Le Tour with previous stage winners Asle Arvesen and Leon Sanchez.
Stage 13 might be short at 101km, but Stage 19 will also be a key stage to the tour and is the longest on the 2017 route at 222.5km.
The stage starts in a hilly region which will make tactics extremely important as once the initial hill regions are covered, it becomes a flat course and is an important stage leading in to the 2nd of the time trials that will be held the following day.
The opening sections of the stage will feature 2 climbs that accrue points towards the Polka Dot jersey and could well help decide who takes the title of King of the Mountains. With the flat conditions prevailing after the early climb the chance for a breakaway will be prime. However, the sprint teams will be keen to limit the damage and look to hold on to overall team points.
The second and final of the two time trials and exactly 200km shorter than stage 19.
This will be the first time that the city of Marseille has held a time trial within Le Tour and the start and finish points of the stage takes place inside the Stade Velodrome, home of Olympique Marseille who play in the French Ligue 1.
The penultimate stage is a relative flat ride with the exception of a short climb towards the Notre Dame de la Garde. With just a short 22.5km, will the 2017 Tour de France be won and lost in such a short stage, with the traditional etiquette of riders not attacking on the final stage.
Or will the rider in the maillot jaune, just confirm their standing and enjoy the final ride to the Champs Elysees champagne in hand, having sewn up the general classification well before the time trial. Either way, it promises to be another great 3 weeks.