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Stage 17, Tour de France 2016: Bern to Finhaut Emosson

Château d'Aigle

Château d'Aigle, by Tony Bowden, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

A guide to Stage 17 of the Tour de France 2016. Stage 17 of the 2016 Tour is 184.5km from Bern, via Wattenwil, Reutigen, Erlenbach-im-Simmental, Boltigen, Rougemont, Aigle, Saint-Maurice, Martigny, and Trient. There are two Category 3 climbs around the middle of the stage, the Côte de Saanenmöser and the Col des Mosses. The intermediate sprint is at Martigny, after 150km. The climax of the day comes with the Category 1 Col de la Forclaz and the hors catégorie climb to the finish at the Barrage d'Emosson. Read about Stage 17 of the Tour de France 2016 here.

Christian Prudhomme says of Stage 17, 'From north to south, it'll be a day of discovery, and 100% Swiss, with a spectacular finish situated at the Emosson dam. There will be opportunities to seize, on the 13km climb to the summit of the Col de la Forclaz, and then on the 10km ride up to the finish at the Emosson dam.'

Read the Stage 17 race report.

Stage 17, Tour de France 2016: facts, figures, and map

Stage 17 of the Tour de France 2016 is 184.5km from Bern to Finhaut Emosson.

Stage classification Mountain
Distance 184.5km
Sprints Martigny (after 150km)
Climbs Côte de Saanenmöser (Category 3)
Col des Mosses (Category 3)
Col de la Forclaz (Category 1)
Emosson (hors catégorie)

There's an official map of Stage 17, Tour de France 2016

This is the official Tour de France stage profile for Stage 17:

Profile of Stage 17, Tour de France 2016

Stage 17 profile, © A.S.O. Tour de France organisers

Stage 17, Tour de France 2016: timings

These are some of the Stage 17 timings (based on the medium estimated speed of 36kmh):

Km Place Time
Départ fictif in Bern 1200
0 Départ réel   1215
18.5 Wattenwil 1242
31 Reutigen 1301
51 Oberwil-im-Simmental 1331
55.5 Boltigen 1338
72.5 Côte de Saanenmöser (Category 3) 1408
83.5 Rougemont 1426
105 Col des Mosses (Category 3) 1503
123 Aigle 1525
131.5 Bex 1538
150 Martigny (sprint) 1607
166.5 Col de la Forclaz (Category 1) 1645
169.5 Trient 1648
184.5 Finhaut-Emosson (hors catégorie) 1721

See the full timings for Stage 17 on the Tour de France website, based on average speeds of 38, 36, and 34kmh.

Stage 17, Tour de France 2016: the start at Bern

Bern, river Aare & Münster

Bern, by martin_vmorris, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Stage 17 starts in the same place as Stage 16 finished - at the Stade de Suisse/Bern Expo, in the Wankdorf area of Bern. The départ fictif is at 12 noon.

There are details of the route out of Bern on this Stage 17 timings sheet. The riders roll out along Papiermühlestrasse, Aargauerstalden, Nydeggbrücke, Nydeggasse, Gerechtigkeitsgasse, Kramgasse, Hotelgasse, Casinoplatz, Amthausgasse, Bundesplatz, Bundesgasse, Schwanengasse, Sulgeneckstrasse, Sandrainstrasse, and Seftigenstrasse.

Bärengraben, Bern

Bärengraben, Bern, by Edwin Lee, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

This means that initially they retrace their steps from the day before, going back down to the Aare river and the Bärengraben (where Bern's bears are kept). They then cross the Nydegg bridge, to go into the old town (Altstadt), where they pass by the Zytglogge and the Swiss Federal Building (or Parliament), before turning south to head out of the city.

Zytglogge, Bern

Zytglogge, Bern, by Maksym Kozlenko, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

The départ réel is on Seftigenstrasse, 7.5km from the ceremonial start, at 1215.

Stage 17, Tour de France 2016: Bern to Martigny

Martigny & the Mont Blanc massif

Martigny, with the Mont Blanc massif behind, by Björn S..., Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

This map shows the first part of the route on Stage 17:

Map of Stage 17, Tour de France 2016, leaving Bern

Leaving Bern, Stage 17 heads south alongside the Gürbe river, and parallel to the Aare river. It passes through Kehrsatz, Belp (which is home to Bern's airport), Toffen, Lohnstorf, Wattenwil, Blumenstein, and Pohlern. It reaches Reutigen, which is close to Spiez and a lake called the Thunersee. This map shows the section of the route through Lohnstorf:

Map of Stage 17, Tour de France 2016, showing the section around Lohnstorf

Shortly after Reutigen, the race goes right on R11, following the course of the Simme river up the Simmental. It goes through Erlenbach-im-Simmental (which has a cable car up to the Stockhorn), Oberwil-im-Simmental, Boltigen, Reidenbach, and Weissenbach, to Zweisimmen.

Stockhorn

Stockhorn, by Konrad Hädener, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0 

This map shows the route in the Simmental:

Map of Stage 17, Tour de France 2016 in the Simmental

Côte de Saanenmöser (Category 3)

In Zweisimmen, the race route forks right, still on the R11/Saanenstrasse, which runs alongside the Kleine Simme river, and the Montreux-Oberland Bernois railway, to Saanenmöser. A short way beyond Saanenmöser, it reaches 1,278m, and this is the top of the Côte de Saanenmöser.

The altitude at the bottom of the climb is about 960m; the climb is over a distance of 6.6km. This gives a height gain of 318m, and an average gradient of 4.8%.

This map shows the climb of the Côte de Saanenmöser (and the route after that):

Map of Stage 17, Tour de France 2016 showing the Côte de Saanenmöser and Rougement

Beyond the top of the climb the road descends to Schönried. Zweisimmen, Saanenmöser, and Schönried are all villages linked by lifts to the Gstaad ski area. The route continues down to Saanen (which has an airport; the Saanen goat is white or cream-coloured, and is a popular dairy breed).

Saanen

Saanen, by Hansueli Krapf, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

The race follows the R11 along the Saane (or Sarine, in French) river to Rougemont. (The name Rougemont betrays the fact that the Tour de France is now in French-speaking Switzerland. It's name comes from the reddish outcrops of rock north of the village. Diana Spencer lived here in the late 1970s. There's a cable car from Rougemont up to la Videmanette, which is part of the Gstaad-Eggli ski area.)

Château d'Oex

Château d'Oex

The race continues to Château d'Oex. (There are lifts up from Château d'Oex to skiing on la Braye. Château d'Oex has a renowned International Hot Air Balloon Festival.)

In Château d'Oex, the riders cross the Sarine river, and follow the R10/route des Mosses. The road begins to climb towards the Col des Mosses.

Col des Mosses (Category 3)

This map shows the next section of the route, to the Col des Mosses and beyond:

Map of Stage 17, Tour de France 2016, section including the Col des Mosses

The official climb begins 8.5km after Château-d'Oex, at l'Etivaz (about 1160m). The distance is 6.4km, and the climb finishes at the Col des Mosses (1445m). This means a height gain of 285m, and an average gradient of 4.4%.

There are ski lifts at the Col des Mosses, which is overlooked by mountains including le Gros Van and le Pic Chaussy.

Col des Mosses in winter

Col des Mosses in winter, by ReflectedSerendipity, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

From the Col des Mosses (1445m), there's a long (18km) descent to Aigle (434m), in the wide Rhône valley floor. (The UCI is based in Aigle).

Château d'Aigle

Château d'Aigle, by Tony Bowden, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

There's now a flat section from Aigle to Bex and Saint-Maurice. This map shows the next section of the route:

Map of Stage 17, Tour de France 2016, between Aigle and Martigny via Bex

(There are salt mines in Bex, and salt has been produced here since the 1500s. Saint-Maurice is on the site of a Roman outpost or customs post, which was called Agaunum; the Medieval Abbaye Saint-Maurice is now a school; the other main sight is Saint-Maurice castle.)

Château, Saint-Maurice

Château at Saint-Maurice, by Roland Zumbühl, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Beyond Saint-Maurice, the race reaches the historic town of Martigny, the location of the day's intermediate sprint. 

Profile of the sprint on Stage 17, Tour de France 2016, at Martigny

Profile of Stage 17 intermediate sprint, © A.S.O. Tour de France organisers

Martigny & the Rhone valley

Martigny & the Rhône valley, by Olivier Bruchez, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Martigny marks the end of the flat part of the stage. The final two climbs now begin. The road winds up and out of Martigny through vineyards.

Vineyards above Martigny

The road climbs through vineyards above Martigny, by tomislav medak, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Stage 17, Tour de France 2016: the Col de la Forclaz

The route at the end of Stage 17 is the same as Stage 7 of the Criterium du Dauphiné 2014, where Alberto Contador took 20s from Chris Froome, with climbs of the Col de la Forclaz, and up to the Emosson dam

This map shows the route from Martigny to the finish at the Emosson dam:

Map of Stage 17, Tour de France 2016, including Martigny, Col de la Forclaz, & Emosson dam

This profile shows the two climbs which the riders have to tackle to finish the stage:

Profile of final two climbs on Stage 17, Tour de France 2016 - Forclaz and Finahaut Emosson

Profile of final two climbs on Stage 17, © A.S.O. Tour de France organisers

On the climb of the Col de la Forclaz, soon after leaving Martigny, the riders pass the Tour de la Bâtiaz. 

Tour de la Bâtiaz, Martigny

Tour de la Bâtiaz, by Theun Spaans, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

They continue up the road, with the Mont de l'Arpille to their right, on a fairly even gradient, to an altitude of 1,527m. The altitude at the bottom is 504m, which means a height gain of 1,023m. The climb is over a distance of 13km, giving an average gradient of 7.9%.

From the Col de la Forclaz, the road descends past the village of Trient. Just short of the village of le Châtelard, there's a sharp right turn towards Finhaut, and the final climb to the Emosson dam begins.

Stage 17, Tour de France 2016: the final climb to the Emosson dam

Emosson dam

Emosson dam, by Mike Bean, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

This map shows the route from the Col de la Forclaz to the finish at the Emosson dam:

Map showing the final part of Stage 17, Tour de France 2016, to the finish at the Lac d'Emosson

The altitude at the bottom of the final climb is 1,083m, and at the top, it is 1,960m, giving a height gain of 877m, over a distance of 10.4km. That means an average gradient of 8.4%. The climb profile shows that the steepest part is near the top.

Barrage d'Emosson

Emosson dam and lake, by Elodie50a, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

What will happen on Stage 17? This stage has been designed as a GC challenge, to test the best riders in the 2016 Tour, and to kick off the Alpine section of this year's edition of the race in style. Will Froome defend or extend his lead? Will Quintana attack and break him? Could another of the top riders, like Adam Yates, Richie Porte, Dan Martin, or Bauke Mollema, mount their own challenge for the yellow jersey? It should be an exciting stage.

Stage 17, Tour de France 2016: Geraint Thomas's view

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas, by Dacoucou, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Geraint Thomas, speaking to Peter Scrivener of the BBC, gave his view on each stage before the Tour began. This is what he said about Stage 17: 'This is the first of a super-hard four-day block, and a big effort is needed at the end of a tough stage. A lot can change over these four days, and even if a rider is a couple of minutes adrift, he can bring it back if the guy in the yellow jersey has a bad day and cracks.'

Who does he tip for the win? Nairo Quintana.

Stage 18, Tour de France 2016

Megève télécabine

Stage 18 of the 2016 Tour de France is a 17km individual mountain time trial from Sallanches to Megève. Short but difficult, it is expected to help decide the outcome of the 2016 Tour. Froome and Quintana, and maybe others, will be battling for yellow. Read about Stage 18, Tour de France 2016

Stage 17, Tour de France 2016: places of interest on the route

Stage 17, Tour de France 2016: Bern

Bern, river Aare & Münster

Bern, by martin_vmorris, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Bern is a city of 141,107 people in the Bernese Mittelland, and is Switzerland's capital, or 'federal city'. It's the fourth biggest city in Switzerland. Bernese German is the most-spoken language here.

According to the local legend, the city was named after a bear, which was the first animal Duke Berchtold V came across on a hunt. Bears are kept in the Bärengraben, but they also have a more natural enclosure to move around in, the Bärenpark.

Bern may have been founded by the Duke in 1191. It was one of the first cantons to join the Swiss confederation (1353), and it became the federal city in 1848.

Zytglogge, Bern

Zytglogge, Bern, by Maksym Kozlenko, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

The Swiss Parliament meets in the Federal Palace of Switzerland. Albert Einstein worked in the Parliament's patent office. Other sights include the Zytglogge, a Medieval clock tower, the C15th Gothic Münster, and the C15th town hall.

Stage 17, Tour de France 2016: Aigle

Aigle, Switzerland

Aigle, by Kosala Bandara, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Aigle is a town of 9,599 people.

It developed due to its position on the road to the Great Saint Bernard pass. The castle dates from 1489, when Aigle belonged to Bern.

The UCI is based in Aigle.

Stage 17, Tour de France 2016: Martigny

Martigny & the Mont Blanc massif

Martigny, with the Mont Blanc massif behind, by Björn S..., Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Martigny is a town of 15,000 people, at an Alpine crossroads, with France to the west, over the Col de la Forclaz, and Italy to the south, over the Great Saint-Bernard pass.

Because of its strategic location, it was important to the Romans, who occupied it from 57BC. Roman baths, and a Roman amphitheatre, still remain. There is cow fighting in the amphitheatre.

Cow fighting, amphitheatre, Martigny

Cow fighting in Martigny, by Christof Berger, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

In the Middle Ages, the town adopted Saint-Martin of Tours as its patron saint, and that's how it became known as Martigny.

Stage 17, Tour de France 2016: Lac d'Emosson

Barrage d'Emosson

Emosson dam and lake, by Elodie50a, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

There are three dams of the Barberine river altogether. The first was built 1920-1925 to provide electricity to run trains. The second was finished in 1955, and controls the flow of water into the lake. The Emosson dam (Barrage d'Emosson) was built from 1967-1973, to provide electricity at 50Hz. It flooded the plateau d'Emosson, and created the Lac d'Emosson.

Stage 7 of the Critérium du Dauphiné 2014 finished at the Emosson dam, with the stage won by Lieuwe Westra.

BernTour de BâtiazEmosson

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