Flamboyant Italian sprinter Mario Cippollini wore the yellow jersey for several days in the first week, then little-known French rider Cédric Vasseur wore the yellow jersey for nearly a week. But the real battle for the yellow jersey started in the Pyrénées when Germany's Jan Ullrich took control. On the 252-kilometer, five mountain-long stage from Luchon to Arcalis, Andorra, Ullrich powered away from climbers like Richard Virenque and Marco Pantani to take the yellow jersey. He consolidated his lead by winning the opening time trial in Saint-Etienne, and despite faltering slightly in the Alps, Ullrich won his first Tour with nearly a ten-minute advantage.
In dominating the 1997 Tour de France, Jan Ullrich became the first German to climb on the final Tour podium since Kurt Stoepel finished second in 1932, and certainly he became the first German to win the French race. And at the ripe age of 23, Ullrich promised to be a champion for the future.
Cédric Vasseur wins a stage on the Tour twenty seven years after his father Alain. Pantani beats his record on the climb of the Alpe dHuez (37 min 35 against 38 min in 1994)
The piano replaces the accordeon on the Tour . François-René Duchable plays Listz and Bach at the peak of the Tourmalet climb.
The first German victory on the Tour de France 65 years after a place on the podium for Kurt Stoepel (2nd behind Leducq in 1932).
11 towns host the Tour for the first time.