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VIDEO: Tour de France Stage 17 preview

British race-leader Chris Froome is favourite to come out on top in Wednesday's stage 17 time-trial, but could well be caught out by a strong challenger or a rainy afternoon. See this video preview of the sprint from Embrun to Chorges

VIDEO: Tour de France Stage 17 preview
Photo: Le Tour/Screengrab

The 32-kilometre time-trial takes the riders from the town of Embrun, at the eastern end of the artificial Lake Serre-Poncon in the Alps, to the village of Chorges via two second-category climbs, the Cote de Puy-Sanieres and the Cote de Reallon.

Germany's Tony Martin, the two-time world time-trial champion, has dominated the discipline recently, with his stunning time at Mont-Saint-Michel in last week's 11th stage recorded as the third-fastest in Tour history.

Only overall race leader Chris Froome came anywhere close to Martin on that occasion, but this time around the nature of the route means the Team Sky rider is the clear favourite to record his third stage win so far.

The two challenging climbs are likely to rule out Martin and present Froome with another chance to show off his ascending skills following his dominant wins at Ax-Trois-Domaines and on Mont Ventoux.

Alberto Contador will expect to feature strongly too, while Colombian expert climber Nairo Quintana may also be a decent bet to do well.

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However, the weather could have a significant role to play too, with fine and dry conditions early in the day expected to give way to heavy rain and thunderstorms as the afternoon progresses.

That means the late starters' chances could be severely compromised if they are not comfortable on the downhills.

The first rider off the ramp on Wednesday will be the Canadian Svein Tuft, last in the general classification, at 10.17am, with yellow jersey wearer Froome last to go at 2.33pm.

The following is a video preview of stage 17, from Global Cycling Network.

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SPORT

Inaugural Women’s Tour de France to start at Eiffel Tower

The route for the inaugural women's Tour de France was unveiled on Thursday with eight stages, embarking from the Eiffel Tower on July 24th next year.

French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race.
French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race. Photo: Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP.

The first complete edition of the women’s version of cycling’s iconic race starts on the day the 109th edition of the men’s Tour ends.

After a route that winds through northern France, the race culminates in the Planche des Belles Filles climb in the Vosges mountains.

Danish cyclist Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig said she was over the moon to be taking part.

“I want it to be July now so we can get stared,” she said actually jumping up and down.

“The Tour de France is a reference and when you say you are a cyclist people ask about that. Now I can say I race the Tour de France,” she said after the presentation.

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Race director Marion Rousse, a former French cycling champion and now a TV commentator, told AFP it would be a varied course that would maintain suspense over the eight days.

“It is coherent in a sporting sense, and we wanted to start from Paris,” she said of the 1,029km run.

“With only eight stages we couldn’t go down to the Alps or the Pyrenees, the transfers would be too long.

“The stages obviously are shorter for the women than for the men’s races. The men can go 225 kilometres. For the women the longest race on our roster is 175km and we even needed special dispensation for that,” she said. “But it’s a course I love.”

Christian Prudhomme, the president of the Tour de France organisers, was equally enthusiastic.

“The fact it sets off from Paris the day the men’s race ends gives the new race a boost because it sets the media up to follow it more easily.

“It also means that with the Tour de France starting on July 1st and the women’s race ending on the 31st, there will be cycling on television every day of July.”

The men’s race is broadcast in around 190 countries.

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