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Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: Verviers to Longwy

A guide to Stage 3 of the Tour de France 2017, which is 202km from Verviers, Belgium, to Longwy, France. The stage heads south from Verviers, into the rolling hills of the Ardennes Forest, then through Luxembourg, before crossing the border to France. The stage is classified hilly, and has a kick at the end, and is therefore a chance for the puncheurs like Peter Sagan and Greg van Avermaet, or perhaps Philippe Gilbert, who is from Verviers. Read about Stage 3 of the Tour de France 2017 here.

Uphill finish suits Sagan on Stage 3

3rd July 2017

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan, by Chris Doelle, Flickr, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

Stage 3 could have been designed for Philippe Gilbert, native of the start town Verviers, with its uphill finish at Longwy suiting a strong, explosive rider. However, nothing could stop Peter Sagan - even when he accidentally unclipped from one of his pedals, he was able to click back in, accelerate, and beat Michael Matthews to the line.

Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: facts, figures, and map

The map above shows the route of Stage 3.

Stage classification Hilly
Distance 212.5km
Intermediate sprint Wincrange
Climbs Côte de Sart (Category 4)
Côte de Wiltz (Category 4)
Côte d'Eschdorf (Category 3)
Côte de Villiers-la-Montagne (Category 4)
Côte des Religieuses (Category 3)

This is the official map.

The official Tour de France stage profile for Stage 3:

Profile of Stage 3, Tour de France 2017

Profile of Stage 3, Tour de France 2017, © ASO/Tour de France

Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: date & timings

Stage 3 takes place on Monday 3rd July 2017.

The publicity caravan sets off from Verviers at 10h15, and arrives at the finish at 15h36. The riders leave Verviers at 12h15, and cross the finish line between 17h08 and 17h36, depending on the average speed over the course.

Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: the route

Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: the start in Verviers

Palais de Justice, Verviers

Palais de Justice, Verviers, by Jean-Pol Grandmont, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

The stage starts in Verviers, in the Belgian province of Liège. The start is said by Le Soir to be between the Hôtel Verviers and the station.

Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: Verviers to the Côte de Wiltz

The Ardennes, Luxembourg

The Ardennes, Luxembourg, by Eric Forget, Licence CC BY 2.0

The riders will spend the day on the rolling roads of the Ardennes Forest. 

The first climb of the day is the Category 4 Côte de Sart - 2.8km at 5.1%. The top comes after 18km of racing. Shortly afterwards, the peloton arrives at the motor racing circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, and they ride on part of the racetrack as they make their way south. There's free entry for spectators watching the Tour de France there.

Circuit de Spa

Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, by Evangelina Rangel, Licence CC BY 2.0

Leaving the motor racing circuit, the riders pass through Stavelot (the scene of severe fighting during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944). The route continues to Trois-Ponts, then leaves the Province of Liège, and enters the Belgian Province of Luxembourg. It follows the river Salm to Vielsalm.

Vielsalm

Vielsalm, by LaMaWieze, Licence CC BY 3.0

The next village is Salm-Château (where just two towers of the château of the Counts of Salm remain), then it's on to the Luxembourg border.

The route in Luxembourg (Canton de Clervaux) is on the D336 then N12 south to Troisvierges (where hostilities began on the Western Front in World War I, when German soldiers disembarked at the town's railway station on 1st August 1914 and began a 4-year occupation of Luxembourg). Continuing south on the N12, the riders reach Wincrange after 89km of racing, the location of the intermediate sprint.

Profile of intermediate sprint on Stage 3, Tour de France 2017, at Wincrange

Profile of intermediate sprint on Stage 3, Tour de France 2017, at Wincrange, © ASO/Tour de France

From Wincrange, the riders continue south, crossing into the Canton of Wiltz, and arriving at the town of Wiltz.

Wiltz

Wiltz, by Les Meloures, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

There's a Category 4 climb out of Wiltz, the Côte de Wiltz. It's 3.1km at an average of 4.8%, and the top is after 105.5km of the stage (at Roulingen).

Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: Côte de Wiltz to Longwy

Esch-sur-Sure

Esch-sur-Sûre, by Cayambe, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

From the top of the Côte de Wiltz, the riders pedal on to Nothum then Esch-sur-Sûre. (Esch-sur-Sûre is on the river Sûre. Am I sure? Yes, definitely. Sure-sure. It's a village within a meander of the river, just east of an artificial lake created by damming the river in order to produce hydro-electric power. Esch-sur-Sûre has a Medieval castle).

Esch-sur-Sûre

Esch-sur-Sûre, by Sjaak Kempe, Licence CC BY 2.0

Leaving Esch-sur-Sûre, there's a short, steep climb: the Category 3 Côte d'Eschdorf is 2.3km at an average gradient of 9.3%. The summit comes at Eschdorf (which holds a European Hill Race in May each year), after 120.5km of the stage.

Stage 3 heads on to Grosbous and Saeul, then crosses into the Canton de Mersch and reaches Tuntange. It crosses the river Eisch at Bour, and enters the Canton de Capellen, continuing via Dondelange, Kehlen, and Mamer (on the river Mamer, and close enough to Luxembourg city to be home to commuters to the capital).

Next, it's on via Dippach, Sprinkange, Limbach, Mondercange, and Schifflange, to Esch-sur-Alzette, at the border with France.

Esch-sur-Alzette

Rue de Schifflange, Esch-sur-Alzette, by Jwh, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

The race now crosses into France, and the Moselle département.

On the French side of the border is Audun-le-Tiche. From Audun, the route is on to Villerupt, Thil, and Godbrange. A couple of kilometres after Godbrange, the riders begin the Category 4 climb to Villiers-la-Montagne, the Côte de Villiers-la-Montagne - 1.1km at an average gradient of 5.2%.

The course then approaches Longwy via Chenières and Réhon. The final climb to the finish line at Longwy is called the Côte des Religieuses.

Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: the finish at Longwy

Ramparts & Porte de France, Longwy

Ramparts & Porte de France, Longwy, by Initsogan, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

The finish is at the Citadelle in Longwy, France. There's a short, sharp climb to the Citadelle, on the D918, from the south. The final climb is Category 3, 1.6km at 5.8%:

Profile of the Côte des Religieuses, Longwy

Profile of Côte des Religieuses, Longwy, © ASO/Tour de France

The finish is steeply uphill, so it won't suit the pure sprinters. Sagan and van Avermaet are among the riders likely to be targeting Stage 3, as well as Philippe Gilbert. The GC contenders will also want to be at the front, so as not to lose time - and maybe to gain time on any rivals who are struggling.

Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: favourites for the stage win

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert, by J-G-H Jähnick, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Stage 3 is a chance for the puncheurs , with its short, sharp climb to the finish. As always  in these circumstances, Peter Sagan has to be the absolute favourite. He'll want to give his new Bora-Hansgrohe team value for his rumoured €4 million annual salary

But it seems that the stage has been designed with another rider in mind. Veteran Philippe Gilbert (now riding for Quick-Step Floors) has thrived on this type of terrain in the past, and the fact that the stage starts in his home town of Verviers would appear to be a nod to the Belgian. Whether he has the legs to win on the day is another matter.

Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: comments

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Stage 4, Tour de France 2017

Thermal baths, Vittel

La Grande Source, Vittel, by Pymouss, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Stage 4 of the Tour de France 2017 is 203km from Mondorf-les-Bains to Vittel. It's the 2017 Tour's thermal baths and mineral water stage. Will an ageing sprinter benefit from taking a cure before the stage starts, and have the iron to take famous victory?

Read about Stage 4, Tour de France 2017.

Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: towns, sights and attractions

Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: Verviers

Palais de Justice, Verviers

Palais de Justice, Verviers, by Jean-Pol Grandmont, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Verviers is the French-speaking part of Belgium, Wallonia, and in the province of Liège. It is known as Wallonia's 'water capital', because of its many fountains.

A textile industry developed in Verviers, from the C15th. The town was damaged economically by the annexation of the province of Liège to France, in the time of Napoléon, but it began to thrive again after the defeat of Bonaparte (1815), and after World War I, it rivalled Bradford as the 'wool capital of the world'. Vervier is twinned with Bradford. This industry declined, particularly from the 1950s onwards.

Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: Vielsalm

Vielsalm

Vielsalm, by LaMaWieze, Licence CC BY 3.0

Vielsalm gets its name from the river Salm. 'Salm' comes from the Celtic salwa meaning black, and 'viel' means old. Nevertheless, it is popularly believed that Vielsalm stems from German, and means 'many salmon'.

Slate-mining was carried on here since the C16th.

A Division of the US Army had its command post here for a few days in January 1945.

The Fête de la Myrtille (bilberry festival) takes place in July every year. There's a parade, with local in traditional costume, and they hand out dishes of fruit including bilberries (blueberries).

The lake near the centre of town is the Lac des Doyards.

Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: Luxembourg

Luxembourg

Luxembourg, by Flavio Ensiki, Licence CC BY 2.0

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a small country (998 sqaure miles, about the same land area as the US state of Rhode Island, or the English county of Northamptonshire). The population is about 575,000. It's a constitutional monarchy, with a Grand Duke as the Head of State.

The European Court of Justice is based in the capital, Luxembourg City.

There's a mix of French and German cultures, and French and German are official languages, along with Luxembourgish.

Luxembourg began in 963, when Siegried I acquired the rocky Roman fortifications at the heart of the country. The Counts of Luxembourg later became Grand Dukes. Luxembourg belonged to France under Louis XIV, to Austria under Maria Theresa, then to Napoleon's France. It gained its independence after the defeat of Napoleon in 1814.

At the start of the C20th, there was a significant steel industry. More recently, Luxembourg has concentrated on banking and the knowledge economy, as well as the dubious practice of helping companies like Amazon avoid tax via transfer-pricing (the practice of routing multinationals' profits through a low-tax jurisdiction).

Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: Wiltz

Wiltz

Wiltz, by Les Meloures, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Wiltz is the capital of the Canton of Wiltz. It is a major centre for the international scouting movement.

Wiltz Castle was completed by the Count of Wiltz in 1727. It has hundreds of rooms, and sits in 600 acres of gardens.

Wiltz Castle

Wiltz Castle, by Zinneke, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Wiltz was a scene of fighting during the Battle of the Bulge, when the Nazis began their Ardennes offensive in December 1944.

Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: Esch-sur-Alzette

Belval, Esch-sur-Alzette

Steelworks at Belval, Esch-sur-Alzette, by Luxmaster051, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Esch-sur-Alzette is Luxembourg's second city, with a population of around 33,000 people. It's on the river Alzette.

Esch owes its development to the discovery of iron ore here in the 1850s. The city grew up due to iron and steel production, which flourished until the 1970s, when it contracted. (Arcelor Mittal is still one of Esch's largest employers). The site of the old blast furnaces is now home to part of the University of Luxembourg.

Esch is home to the National Museum of Resistance. It has the longest shopping street in Luxembourg.

The Tour de France came to Esch in 2006 (finish of Stage 2, start of Stage 3).

Stage 3, Tour de France 2017: Longwy

Craft market, Longwy

Craft market at Longwy, by Henrion Alain, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Longwy is a town in the Meurthe-et-Moselle département of France. Its ville neuve, fortified by Vauban (Louis XIV's military architect), is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Its traditional industry was mining and smelting iron ore, but this declined in the late 1970s, and all the furnaces had closed by the late 1980s. 

Decorative glazed pottery is made in Longwy.

Palais de Justice, VerviersArdennes, BelgiumLongwy

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