Two of cycling’s most emblematic climbs are back for 2017. Local officials have confirmed that the famed 21 lacets of Alpe d’Huez, though not part of next year’s Tour de France, will be featured in the 69th Critérium du Dauphiné in June. In Spain, the demanding steeps of the Angliru will return to the Vuelta a España next year.
The official unveiling of the 2017 Vuelta route will take place January 12 in Madrid. So far, race officials have not confirmed the Angliru news, and all that’s been revealed is that the Vuelta will start in Nimes, France on August 19 (only the third time the Vuelta has started outside Spain), and will conclude September 10 in Madrid.
Officials in Asturias, however, told a regional newspaper the deal is done, and the Angliru will be back for the first time since 2013. The climb with ramps as steep as 23 percent has been featured six times in the Vuelta (1999, 2000, 2002, 2008, 2011, and 2013), with Kenny Elissonde, now on Team Sky for 2017, being the last winner.
“It was a lengthy negotiation and we are very satisfied,” said Ana Isabel Díaz, mayor of nearby Riosa. “It’s an important boost for our tourism industry.”
The routes of the 2017 editions of the Giro d’Italia and Tour have already been announced. The Giro will celebrate its centenary with a course entirely within Italy, while the Tour will continue its trend to take the French grand tour into some unknown corners of France, steering clear of such favorites as Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez this year in favor of a first-ever summit finale atop the Izoard.
What will the Vuelta course look like? Efforts to bring the race to Spain’s Canary Islands seemed to have stalled yet again, at least for 2017. Next year’s route looks to be heading south from Nimes into Spain’s Catalunya region before picking its way south along the Mediterranean coast. There will likely be a transfer north to bring the route close to the Angliru and other stages in Spain’s Cantabria Mountains for a climactic final week before it all ends in Madrid.
In France, local media are reporting that Alpe d’Huez will be the final stage of the 2017 Dauphiné. ASO officials did not confirm the news, only revealing that Saint-Etienne will host the start of the key pre-Tour stage race.
Alpe d’Huez debuted in 1952 and has been a regular Tour stop since the 1970s. Over the past few years, the popular climb has been featured about every other year, but ASO detoured around Alpe d’Huez again for 2017. The last climb up the famed switchbacks, in 2015, was won by French rider Thibaut Pinot.