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Stage 17 will cover just 65 kilometres - but there are three cols to get up, including the finish on the Portet

Stage 17 of next year’s Tour de France promises to be an absolute cracker – covering just 65 kilometres, it has a height gain of 3,000 metres and features three climbs with the final one, the Col de Portet, making its debut in the race and said by some to be the toughest ascent ever in the race.

Mike Cotty of the Col Collective is based in the Pyrenees and went out at the end of October to recce the route of a stage that will see attacking riding from the word go and which forms part of a final week which he believes could be “one of the best finishes of the Tour ever.”

> Route of 2018 Tour de France unveiled in Paris (+ video)

Here’s what he said:

Now mountains in the final week may not come as much of a surprise, but what did catch our eye (along with the rest of the cycling world) is the hyper-dynamic Stage 17, starting in Bagnères-de-Luchon with the Montée de Peyragudes, Col de Val Louron-Azet and the all new Col de Portet on the menu.

Three climbs back to back with over 3,000 metres elevation gain and all in just 65 kilometres! That’s right 65 km from start to finish … crazy days!

With autumn quickly taking hold and the first dusting of snow on the higher peaks, I’ll be honest I never have a problem getting motivated for a big day in the mountains but with such an incentive so close to home there’s no way I could get to sleep until I’d checked it out, especially as this will be the first time the Col de Portet has ever featured in the race, and at 2,215 metres in height it’s 100 metres higher than the legendary Col du Tourmalet. What a finish!

Having ridden and raced for over 25 years, these are the types of stages that really excite me. Short, explosive from the gun, nowhere to hide. Just the mountains to conquer and a million fans lining the road all the way. What could be better? I for one hope that this is the start of a new era of this type of stage within the Grand Tours.

Vital statistics

Start: Bagnères-de-Luchon

Distance: 65km

Highest point: 2,215m

Elevation gain: 3,126m

Max gradient: 13 per cent.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.