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Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: Duesseldorf to Liège

A guide to Stage 2 of the Tour de France 2017, which is 203.5km from Duesseldorf, Germany, to Liège, Belgium. The stage begins with a loop to the east, to Erkrath and the Neander valley, then returns to Duesseldorf to head west south west to Belgium. The stage is classified flat, and is likely to end in a bunch sprint in Liège. Read about Stage 2 of the Tour de France 2017 here.

Marcel Kittel sprints to Stage 2 win

2nd July 2017

Marcel Kittel

Marcel Kittel riding in Giant-Alpecin colours in 2015, by youkeys, Licence CC BY 2.0

On a rainy day in Germany and Belgium, Taylor Phinney took part in a breakaway, but the race came back together shortly before the finish line for a bunch sprint. Marcel Kittel beat Arnaud Démare and André Greipel, with Cavendish fourth.

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: facts, figures, and map

Stage 2 of the Tour de France 2017 is 203.5km from Duesseldorf (Germany) to Liège (Belgium). The route is shown on the Google map above.

Stage classification Flat
Distance 203.5km
Intermediate sprints Mönchengladbach (after 83km)
Climbs Côte de Grafenberg Forest (Category 4)
Côte d'Olne (Category 4)

This is the official map of the first part of the stage in and around Duesseldorf. The city of Duesseldorf has its own Stage 2 page. This is Duesseldorf's map of the whole of Stage 2. This is the Tour de France organisers' map of Stage 2.

The official Tour de France stage profile for Stage 2:

Profile of Stage 2, Tour de France 2017

Profile of Stage 2, Tour de France 2017, © ASO/Tour de France

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: date & timings

Stage 2 takes place on Sunday 2nd July 2017.

Départ fictif: the publicity caravan sets off at 10h00, and the riders at 12h03. Départ réel: the publicity caravan starts at 10h30, and the riders at 12h30.

The publicity caravan arrives at the finish line in Liège at 15h27, and the riders between 17h01 and 17h27, depending on their average speed.

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: the route

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: the start in Duesseldorf

Tonhalle, Duesseldorf

Tonhalle, Duesseldorf, by Norbert Blech, Licence CC BY 2.0

The stage starts in Duesseldorf. On 2nd July 2017, the riders leave the Tour de France village on the Tonhalle embankment. (The Tonhalle was a planetarium, and is now a concert hall). They take the Joseph Beuys embankment to Burgplatz, where they sign on, and are introduced to the public. 

Burgplatz & Schlossturm, Duesseldorf

Burgplatz & Schlossturm, Duesseldorf, by Quido X, Licence CC BY 2.0

From Burgplatz, there's an 8km neutralised section, through the Altstadt, or Old Town. It is along Marktstrasse, Bergerstrasse, Carlsplatz, Benratherstrasse, Maxplatz, Orangeriestrasse, Bäckerstrasse, along the Rhein past the Landtag Nordrhein-Westfalen and the Rheinturm, then along Stromstrasse and Kaistrasse towards the Medienhafen (the old docks, which have been transformed into an area for media and high-tech companies, and bars and restaurants). 

There'll be a ceremony on the Living Bridge which spans the inner harbour. The riders go around the docks on Speditionstrasse and Hammer Strasse.

Medienhafen, Duesseldorf

Medienhafen, Duesseldorf, by Simon, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The neutralised section continues away from the Medienhafen on Stromstrasse, Ernst-Gross-Strasse, Neusserstrasse, and Haroldstrasse. It dips back into the Altstadt, and takes Schwanenmarkt, Hohe Strasse, Benrather Strasse, Königsallee, Theodor-Körner-Strasse, Heinrich Heine Allee, Maximilian Weyhe Allee, and Kaiserstrasse. The flag goes down, and the racing starts, on Kaiserstrasse/Fischerstrasse. The riders head east out of the city towards Erkrath and Neandertal.

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: Duesseldorf to Erkrath & the Neandertal

Neandertal Museum, Mettmann

Neandertal Museum, Mettmann, by Unterkünfte Duesseldorf, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

Leaving the city to the east, the first categorised climb of the 2017 Tour comes at the top of Fahneburgstrasse, in the well-to-do suburb of Grafenberg. It's a Category 4 climb.

The route then winds its way south, through the suburb of Gerresheim (founded by Frankish nobleman Gerricus in the year 870). It heads east to Erkrath, a town on the river Düssel, and on the edge of the Neandertal.

Leaving Erkrath, the riders cross the Autobahn, and follow the L357 Mettmanner Strasse along the river Düssel and through the Neandertal (past the Neanderthal Museum).

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: Mettmann, Ratingen, and back to Duesseldorf

Wasserburg, Haus zum Haus, Ratingen

Wasserburg Haus zum Haus, Ratingen, by Alexostrov, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Next, the route veers north to Mettmann, then north west on the L239 Ratinger Landstrasse to the southern edge of the town of Ratingen. (Ratingen has existed since 849, and in the Middle Ages, belonged to the Counts (later Dukes) of Berg. It was a pioneer of the industrial production of textiles, from 1783, and now has a Rhein Industrial Museum).

From Ratingen, the riders head south west back towards Duesseldorf, crossing the Rhein on the Theodor Heuss Brücke, to reach Kaiser Friedrich Ring.

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: Duesseldorf to Aachen

Hexenturm, Jülich

Hexenturm, Jülich, by Bert Kaufmann, Licence CC BY 2.0

Leaving Duesseldorf, the race goes through Meerbusch (a well-to-do suburb of Duesseldorf which is home to Florian Schneider, a founding member of the band Kraftwerk) and Neuss. It then takes in Büttgen. Büttgen, a suburb of Kaarst, is circular in shape, and seems to have a circular theme: there's a windmill called the Braunsmühle, with sails which go round and round, and a velodrome, for cyclists to go round and round; the Tour de France takes a straight line through Büttgen, however.

Wasserturm, Monchengladbach

Wasserturm, Mönchengladbach

Next, it's on via Korschenbroich to Mönchengladbach, where the first intermediate sprint takes place after 83km of racing, on Bismarkstrasse, in Gladbach (to be confirmed). The riders leave Mönchengladbach via the southern part of the city, Rheydt, and continue south to the Lordship of Wickrath (which got its name because it was a lordship within the Holy Roman Empire).

Schloss Wickrath

Schloss Wickrath, by Clemens Vasters, Licence CC BY 2.0

After that, the riders go past the Garzweiler 1 opencast mine. (Astonishingly, the mine covers an area of 48km2. Lignite - one of the worst types of coal, in terms of carbon pollution - is extracted). There's a reminder of less polluting form of energy, as Stage 2 goes past the Immerather windmill.

Immerather windmill

Immerather windmill, by Pappnaas666, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

The route continues to Jülich (where former professional bike rider Bobby Julich's ancestors are from), then Aachen.

Aachen Cathedral

Aachen Cathedral, by Aquiles Carattino, Licence CC BY 2.0

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: Aachen to Liège

Chaudfontaine

Chaudfontaine, by Jean-Pol Grandmont, Licence CC BY 3.0

From Aachen, Stage 2 heads south west, and crosses the border into Belgium. Although in Belgium, in Neu-Moresnet, the first town over the border, the local language is German, as well as a Limburgish dialect called Platdiets.

Fort de Battice

Fort de Battice

Next on the route is Henri-Chapelle, which has an American World War II cemetery to the north of the village. Continuing the Second World War theme, the riders pass the Fort de Battice

The second and final climb on the stage is the Côte d'Olne (Category 4), on the N604 leading up to the town of Olne. The route then joins the river Vesdre at Nessonvaux, and follows the course of the river to the spa town of Chaudfontaine. (Chaudfontaine gets its name from several natural hot springs which exist here; it had one of the forts built in the 1930s to protect Liège, now used for adventure activities and team building). 

The river Vesdre and the Stage 2 route both join the river Ourthe at Chênée. Where the Ourthe meets the river Meuse, the riders cross over the pont de Fragnée, to the left hand side of the river, and begin the run-in to the finish in Liège.

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: the finish in Liège

Liège

Liège, by Stephane Mignon, Licence CC BY 2.0

The finish of Stage 2 is in Liège. According to rtbf, the finish is on boulevards around the city centre (boulevard d'Avroy/boulevard de la Sauvenière). Sudinfo.be says that the race enters Liège on pont de Fragnée, then takes quai de Rome, and avenue Blonden (past the parc d'Avroy), which leads to boulevard d'Avroy/boulevard de la Sauvenière.

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: favourites for the stage win

Nacer Bouhanni

Nacer Bouhanni, by Laurie Beylier, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

This is a stage for the sprinters. Who will be the best? Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel, André Greipel, John Degenkolb, Michael Mathews, Peter Sagan, Arnaud Démare, and Dylan Groenewegen are all possible winners, but I suggest that someone who would probably be regarded as an outside bet, could take the victory: Nacer Bouhanni, leader of the Cofidis team.

Bouhanni's Cofidis teammate Luis Angel Mate said, 'Nacer is a powerful leader and we will do our best for him. We all are physically well, and we hope to break our bad stretch at the Tour. If we try our best but get beaten, then we'll just congratulate the winner. This is sport, and this is how it works.' That may not sound like a big vote of confidence, but Bouhanni will believe in his own chances.

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: comments

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Stage 3, Tour de France 2017

The Ardennes, Belgium

The Ardennes, Belgium, by Sergey Ashmarin, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Stage 3 of the Tour de France 2017 is 202km from Verviers (Belgium), via Luxembourg, to Longwy (France). 

This stage takes in the rolling forests of the Ardennes, and finishes with a kick uphill, which should make it ideal for the puncheurs, like Peter Sagan. 

Read about Stage 3, Tour de France 2017.

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: towns, sights and attractions

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: Duesseldorf

Rathaus, Duesseldorf

Rathaus, Duesseldorf, by piccus, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

Duesseldorf is the capital of the Nord Rhein-Westphalia state, and the seventh biggest city in Germany (population 593,000). It is sometimes known as 'little Paris'. It is the venue of the Grand Départ 2017.

It gets its name from the river Duessel, which flows into the Rhein here.

It is a business and financial centre, with telecommunications one of the important industries (D2Vodafone and E-Plus are based here). Messe Duesseldorf holds a lot of trade fairs. Mercedes Benz Sprinter vans are built here.

The band Kraftwerk come from Duesseldorf, as did metal merchants Warlock. There's a significant Japanese community.

There were farming and fishing villages here in the C7th and C8th, but Duesseldorf is first mentioned in 1135. It came under the rule of the Counts of Berg, and was granted priviledges by Count Adolf VIII in 1288. It was part of the territory conquered by Napoleon, then belonged to the Kingdom of Prussia from 1815.

Duesseldorf was bombed during World War II, particularly by the RAF in 1943. It was captured by the US Army on 18th April 1945, and became the capital of Nord Rhein-Westphalia in 1946.

Altbier is the speciality beer in the bars of Duesseldorf. It's a little like a pale ale.

The city's symbol is the Radschläger, which is a boy doing a cartwheel. It may originate from the 1288 battle, won by the Counts of Berg. Legend has it that children did cartwheels in the street to celebrate this victory.

Medienhafen, Duesseldorf

Medienhafen Duesseldorf, by Christine und Hagen Graf, Licence CC BY 2.0

The Medienhafen is the location of the old docks, now transformed into an area for media and high-tech companies, and bars and restaurants.

Duesseldorf is twinned with Reading (UK), Toulouse (France), and Lillehammer (Norway).

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: Neandertal

Neandertal

Neandertal, by Robert Brands, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

The Neandertal, or Neander valley, is famous as the place where Neanderthal 1, the first homo neanderthalensis was found in August 1856. Limestone was quarried here, and during the quarrying operations, the Neanderthal bones were found in a cave in a limestone cliff. (The cave no longer exists).

The valley's name comes from a local pastor who lived in Duesseldorf in the C17th, Joachim Neumann (Neander, in Greek). Neumann loved the valley, which inspired his paintings.

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: Neuss

Neuss

Harbour of Neuss, by Peter Köves, Licence CC BY 2.0

Neuss is an historic city which was founded by the Romans. It celebrated 2,000 years since its foundation in 1984, making it equal 'oldest city in Germany' along with Trier.

The Romans built a castrum here in 16BC, which was called Novaesium. The Gallic 16th Legion of the Roman army was stationed there. The civilian town of Novaesium grew up in the C1st AD.

In the Middle Ages, Neuss thrived due to its strategic location on a number of routes, and due to its harbour and ferry across the Rhein. It obtained the remains of Saint Quirinus, and became a destination for pilgrims. Neuss's Minster is dedicated to Saint Quirinus.

Neuss was part of France in the time of Napoléon Bonaparte (from 1794 to 1814), then joined the Kingdom of Prussia in 1815.

There's a replica of the Globe Theatre in Neuss, and an annual Shakespeare festival.

Neuss is twinned with Châlons-en-Champagne in France.

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: Mönchengladbach

Borussia Park, Mönchengladbach

Borussia Park, Mönchengladbach, by Sascha Brück, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Mönchengladbach is a German city west of Duesseldorf. Joseph Pilates was born in Mönchengladbach in 1883.

An abbey was founded here in 974, and named after a local brook, the Gladbach. The monks started a market, and eventually local craftsmen settled near it. A town charter was granted around 1365. The monastery was closed when Gladbach fell to Napoléon, and (since it was on the left bank of the Rhein) became part of France. It joined the Kingdom of Prussia in 1815 after the defeat of Napoléon.

Mönchengladbach was bombed by the British on 11th May 1940, in response the German invasion of Belgium.

Borussia Mönchengladbach is the local football team. They are well-supported, with the 4th largest fan club of any team in Germany. (The fans are called Die Fohlen, the foals).

Mönchengladbach is twinned with Bradford, UK. 

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: Jülich

Hexenturm, Jülich

Hexenturm, Jülich, by Bert Kaufmann, Licence CC BY 2.0

Jülich is a town on the river Roer (or Rur). It was on a Roman road through the Roer valley, and known as Juliacum; when the Roman Empire fell, the Franks settled the area.

Jülich burnt down in 1547, and was rebuilt as an ideal city in a Renaissance style thereafter. However, 97% of Jülich was destroyed by Allied bombing in 1944.

Today, Jülich is known for its Forschungszentrum, or scientific research centre, established in 1956. Among the areas of study is nuclear physics.

American cyclist Bobby Julich has traced his ancestry back to Jülich.

Bobby Julich

Bobby Julich, by Frank Steele, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: Aachen

Aachen

Münsterplatz Aachen, by Frans Berkelaar, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Aachen is an historic city, which was the preferred residence of Charlemagne. Holy Roman Emporers were crowned kings of the Germans here for many centuries.

The name Aachen signifies 'water' or 'stream', like the Latin aquae. Since the earliest times, people settled on the site due to the hot springs. The Romans built a spa resort, called Aquae Granni because it was dedicated to the Celtic god Grannus. 

As the Roman Empire crumbled, the Franks advanced, and they ruled Aachen by 470. Frankish Emporer Charlemagne spent most winters here between 792 and his death in 814. He was buried here, and his alleged remains are preserved in a shrine. German kings were crowned here until the early 1500s, then the ceremony moved to Frankfurt, and Aachen lost its power and influence.

Nevertheless, from the mid-1600s, Aachen became popular as a spa resort (and for prostitution).

Aachen was badly damaged in October 1944, when it was besieged and captured by the US Army.

Today, Aachen has a leading technological university, and has become something of a tech hub. A company called StreetScooter manufactures electric vans.

246,000 people live in Aachen. It is also at the top of many people's list of places to visit - at least, those who make their lists alphabetically.

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: Fort de Battice

Fort de Battice

Fort de Battice

The Fort de Battice is a Belgian fortification just east of the town of Battice. It was built in the 1930s as part of the fortifications of Liège - one of four new forts near the frontier with Germany. It was begun in 1934, and some work continued in 1940 after the outbreak of war.

When the Nazis attacked in May 1940, the Fort de Battice held out until 22nd May 1940. On 28th May 1940, all Belgian forces surrendered.

Stage 2, Tour de France 2017: Liège

Liège, Montagne de Bueren

Liège, Montagne de Bueren, by Stephane Mignon, Licence CC BY 2.0

Liège is a major city on the river Meuse in the province of Liège, in French-speaking Wallonia, Belgium. In Dutch, Liège is called Luik, and in German, Lüttich. It's known as 'la cité ardente', or the fervent city.

The area was settled in Roman times, but the first references to Liège were in 558. Liège was part of Napoléon Bonaparte's France, then it was awarded to the Netherlands after Napoléon's defeat, in 1815. It became part of Belgium in 1830.

Liège was badly damaged in World War II, particularly after it was re-taken by the Allies in September 1944, because the Nazis bombarded it with missiles.

Liège suffered economic decline linked to a downturn in the coal and steel industries. There was a Winter General Strike in 1960-61. It is showing some signs of recovery, with an economy based on shopping and services.

Liège is the only city which has hosted stages of all three Grand Tours.

Tonhalle, DuesseldorfChaudfontaineLiège

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