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Stage 4, Tour de France 2017: Mondorf-les-Bains to Vittel

A guide to Stage 4 of the Tour de France 2017, which is 207.5km from Mondorf-les-Bains (Luxembourg) to Vittel. It's the 2017 Tour's thermal baths and mineral water stage. The route broadly follows the river Moselle south, and passes via the town of Toul. The stage is classified flat. It might be affected by crosswinds, but is likely to end in a bunch sprint. Read about Stage 4 of the Tour de France 2017 here.

Sagan elbows Cav out on Stage 4, Démare wins

4th July 2017

Arnaud Démare

Arnaud Démare, by Doha Stadium Plus Qatar, Licence CC BY  2.0

Stage 4 came to the boil in Vittel after a long, solo break by Guillaume van Keirsbulck (Wanty Groupe Gobert). Peter Sagan moved across and elbowed Mark Cavendish in the sprint, making the Manxman fall and injure his shoulder, while Arnaud Démare took the win.

Stage 4, Tour de France 2017: facts, figures, and map

Stage 4 of the Tour de France 2017 starts in Mondorf-les-Bains (Luxembourg), and heads south along the Moselle river, to finish at Vittel

Stage classification Flat
Distance 207.5km
Intermediate sprint Govillier
Climbs Col des Trois Fontaines (Category 4)

This is the official map of Stage 4.

The official Tour de France stage profile for Stage 4:

Profile of Stage 4, Tour de France 2017

Profile of Stage 4, Tour de France 2017, © ASO/Tour de France

Stage 4, Tour de France 2017: date & timings

Stage 4 takes place on Tuesday 4th July 2017.

The publicity caravan sets off from Mondorf-les-Bains at 10h10, and arrives at the finish in Vittel at 15h23.

The peloton leaves Mondorf at 12h10 (départ fictif), and the racing starts at 12h20. The finish in Vittel is between 16h56 and 17h23 (depending on the average speed).

Stage 4, Tour de France 2017: the route

On Stage 4, the riders head from Luxembourg into the Lorraine region of France. (The administrative region now including Lorraine is called the Grand Est). The route of the stage is broadly south, along the course of the river Moselle. It goes through the French départements of Moselle (57), Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), and Vosges (88). 

Stage 4, Tour de France 2017: the start in Luxembourg

Thermal establishment, Mondorf-les-Bains

Thermal establishment, Mondorf-les-Bains, by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The stage starts in Mondorf-les-Bains, a little spa town in Luxembourg close to the French border, and home to Andy and Frank Schleck.

The race goes through Schengen before crossing into France. Schengen is a small wine-making village in Luxembourg, near the French and German borders, which gives its name to the Schengen Agreement

The official Tour de France website seems to be making a political point when it states: 'Passing through Schengen and before returning to French territory, the peloton will have confirmation it can go around freely...' Those of us who value the right to move freely will agree!

Stage 4, Tour de France 2017: Luxembourg to Toul

River Moselle at Schengen

River Moselle at Schengen, by Cayambe, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Stage 4 follows the Moselle via Contz-les-Bains and Koenigsmacker to Thionville (actually its suburb of Yutz, on the right bank).

Thionville

Thionville, by LaurPhil, Licence CC BY 2.0

A number of forts were built around Thionville by the Germans after their annexation of this area in the Franco-Prussian War (1871). The forts, including those at Koenigsmacker, Yutz, Illange, and Guéntrange, were constructed in the early 1900s, to guard against any French attack to recover Lorraine and Alsace.

Walygator Park

Walygator Park, by Martin Lewison, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The route continues via Illange to Ay-sur-Moselle and Maizières-lès-Metz (home to the Walygator amusement park).

The riders drift away from the river to Saint-Privat-la-Montagne (the location of a battle on 18th August 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War; the Prussians won, and 20,000 people were killed). They return to the Moselle just south of Metz, and continue alongside it, leaving the Moselle département to enter the Meurthe-et-Moselle. 

River Moselle at Pont-à-Mousson

River Moselle at Pont-à-Mousson, by Rolf Krahl, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Pont-à-Mousson is one of the towns along the river. It suffered badly in both World Wars. The iron foundry here was established in 1856, and the factory, now owned by Saint-Gobain, continues to produce cast iron pipes for water, irrigation, and sewage.

A little further along the river is Dieulouard, which has a link with Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire.

After 129km of racing, the peloton reaches Toul.

Cathedral at Toul

Cathedral at Toul, by Rd Piccard, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

Stage 4, Tour de France 2017: Toul to Vittel

Parc Thermal, Vittel

Parc Thermal, Vittel, by stephane333, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

After Toul, the race route leaves the Moselle, and travels via Thuilley-aux-Groseilles. (Groseilles are redcurrants; groseilles blanches are gooseberries). It reaches Govillier for the intermediate sprint.

Profile of the intermediate sprint at Govillier

Profile of the intermediate sprint on Stage 4, at Govillier, © ASO/Tour de France

After passing through Vandeléville, the riders begin the only classified climb of the stage, the Col des Trois Fontaines. There's 1.9km of ascending, at an average gradient of 7.4%. The height at the top is a modest 475m.

After the climb comes the village of Tramont-Lassus, then the race enters the Vosges département. The route in the Vosges is through gently rolling countryside and small villages. The sprinters' teams will keep the pace high as the peloton approaches Vittel.

Stage 4, Tour de France 2017: the finish in Vittel

Grand Hotel, Vittel

Grand Hotel, Vittel, by Pymouss, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Stage 4 finishes in Vittel, in the Vosges département. Vittel Tourisme has a map of the route in Vittel at the finish:

Map of the finish of Stage 4, Tour de France 2017, in Vittel

Map of the finish of Stage 4, Tour de France 2017, in Vittel, © Vittel Tourisme

The sprinters will take note of the three sharp bends within Vittel, and try to position themselves well.

Stage 4, Tour de France 2017: favourites for the win

Mark Cavendish on Stage 1, Tour of Britain 2016

Mark Cavendish on Stage 1, Tour of Britain 2016, by Cs-wolves, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Stage 4 is a second chance on the 2017 Tour for the pure sprinters, after Stage 2. Crosswinds might create the conditions for a split in the bunch, but the chances are, it will come down to a battle among the usual suspects - Mark Cavendish, André Greipel, Marcel Kittel, and perhaps Nacer Bouhanni or Dylan Groenewegen. 

Cavendish is returning from an illness which affected him this spring, and it remains to be seen whether he can be at his top level. He has his own doubts: 'I could be doing myself more damage going and not winning than not going at all. I could be setting myself up to fail.'

Stage 4, Tour de France 2017: comments

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Stage 5, Tour de France 2017

La Planche des Belles Filles

La Planche des Belles Filles, by Thomas Bresson, Licence CC BY 2.0

Stage 5 of the Tour de France 2017 is 160.5km from Vittel to la-Planche-des-Belles-Filles. This first summit finish of the race should indicate which of the GC favourites are in good form.

Read about Stage 5, Tour de France 2017.

Stage 4, Tour de France 2017: towns, sights and attractions

Stage 4, Tour de France 2017: Mondorf-les-Bains

Thermal establishment, Mondorf-les-Bains

Thermal establishment, Mondorf-les-Bains, by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Mondorf-les-Bains is a small spa town in the Remich canton of Luxembourg. It has Luxembourg's only casino, and is home to bike racers Andy and Frank Schleck.

The town has Roman origins (they built a castle here in 65BC, on a site already inhabited by the Celts). The name 'Mondorf' comes from Charlemagne's niece, Muomina. It was part of her possessions when she gave everything she owned to an Abbey; at this time, the town got the name Muomendorph, which evolved to Mondorf.

From the 1840s, it became a spa resort. Thermal waters were discovered as a result of deep drilling for salt. Thermal baths were opened in 1847. French guests flowed to Mondorf-les-bains, until the German occupation of 1871, during the Franco-Prussian war. 

Mondorf was a German spa during World War II, then after the war the Palace Hotel was used to hold senior Nazis awaiting trial at Nürnberg.

The current spa facilities date from 1988.

Sun lounge, Mondorf-les-Bains

Sun lounge, Mondorf-les-Bains, by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Andy Schleck's retirement

Andy & Frank Schleck road art

Andy & Frank Schleck road art, by Robbie Shade, Licence CC BY 2.0

Andy Schleck's retirement from professional cycling aged 29, on 9th October 2014, was reported by CyclingNews. This is CyclingNews's comment: 'The arc of Schleck's career was a curious one. He turned professional under the tutelage of Bjarne Riis at CSC in 2005 and managed to finish a surprise second in the 2007 Giro d'Italia at the age of just 21, yet he won just a single race after his 26th birthday. Schleck's motivation seemed to wane following his brother Fränk's positive test for Xipamide at the 2012 Tour, though rumours of a problem with alcohol and concerns over his biological passport were both swiftly rebuffed by Schleck and his team.'

Stage 4, Tour de France 2017: the Schengen Agreement

River Moselle at Schengen

River Moselle at Schengen, by Cayambe, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The Schengen Agreement was signed on 14th June 1985. It abolished passport and other border controls for travel between the participating European countries.

The Agreement was signed on the Princess Marie-Astrid boat, on the river Moselle, near Schengen. It was originally signed by five countries (Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and West Germany), independently of the EU. It was later adopted by the EU.

Schengen has a European Museum.

Stage 4, 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 4, Tour de France 2017: Lorraine

River Moselle at Metz, Lorraine

River Moselle at Metz, Lorraine, by Hauke Musicaloris, Licence CC BY 2.0

Lorraine is an historical and cultural area of France which is now part of the Grand Est administrative region. Its name comes from the Medieval Kingdom of Lotharingia, probably named after the Emporer Lothair I, a grandson of Charlemagne, who inherited part of the Frankish Empire.

Charlemagne's son Louis the Pious was Emporer after Charlemagne. When Louis died, the Empire was split amongst his sons by the Treaty of Verdun (843).

Lorraine was annexed by France in 1766; Germany gained some of it in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871; it was regained by France in 1919, after the First World War; the Nazis occupied France including Lorraine from 1940-44, then Lorraine was freed from Occupation with the rest of the country at the end of World War II.

German is widely spoken in the Moselle département, otherwise French is the main language. However, two traditional dialects also exist: Lorrain, in south-eastern Lorraine, and Lorraine Franconian (or Platt).

Croix de Lorraine, Colombey-les-deux-Eglises

Cross of Lorraine at Colombey-les-deux-Eglises, by Mathieudu68, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

The Cross of Lorraine was adopted as the symbol of the Free French during World War II.

Traditional ingredients in Lorraine cooking include the potato, smoked bacon, and the mirabelle plum. Well-known local dishes include Quiche Lorraine, pâté Lorraine, and potée Lorraine (a stew with smoked meat and sausage, cabbage, and root vegetables). Wikipedia says that there's a dish called Karotewasser, which is carrots in black tea; I'm not sure if I believe that.

Stage 4, Tour de France 2017: the Moselle river

River Moselle at Pont-à-Mousson

River Moselle at Pont-à-Mousson, by Rolf Krahl, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

The Moselle river flows south to north through France, Luxembourg, and Germany, joining the Rhine at Koblenz. There are terraced vineyards on its banks, with many of the grapes used to make Riesling wines. There's also heavy industry, with coal mining and steel-making between Metz and Thionville.

The source of the Moselle is on the Col de Bussang, on the western slopes of the Ballon d'Alsace in the Vosges mountains. It is in France for the first 314km of the total of its 544km.

Stage 4, Tour de France 2017: Toul

Cathedral at Toul

Cathedral at Toul, by Rd Piccard, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

Toul is an historic town, capital of the Celtic Leuci tribe, and known to the Romans as Tullum Leucorum.

It was a Free Imperial City under the Holy Roman Empire, but it was annexed to France in 1552. Thereafter, its history is the same as that as the rest of Lorraine, passing between France and Germany on a number of occasions.

In World War II, Toul was the primary base of the US Army's Air Service.

Fortifications of Toul

Fortifications of Toul, by M Strikis, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Sights in Toul include Vauban's fortifications around the old town (from 1699-1700, in the time of Louis XIV), and the Gothic Cathedral.

Stage 4, Tour de France 2017: Vittel

Hotel de Ville, Vittel

Hotel de Ville, Vittel, by Harald Bischoff, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Vittel is a small town in the Vosges département of France, famous for Vittel mineral water.

Vittel was founded in 1854, when lawyer Louis Bouloumié bought the Fontaine de Gérémoy. He built a pavilion there, and a spa resort grew up around it.

In World War I, the US Army Base Hospital 36, from Detroit, Michigan, occupied five hotels and the casino.

In World War II, the grass airstrip at Vittel was used by the US Army Air Forces for light liaison aircraft during the Battle for France in 1944. Captured Luftwaffe aircraft were stocked in Vittel in 1945.

Vittel mineral water has been bottled since 1854. It is owned by Nestlé.

Mondorf-les-BainsRiver Moselle at SchengenLa Grande Source, Vittel

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