The 1997 Tour de France was the 84th edition of the Tour de France and took place from 5 to 27 July. Jan Ullrich's victory margin, of 9' 09" was the largest margin of victory since Laurent Fignon won the 1984 Tour de France by 10' 32". Ullrich's simultaneous victories in both the general classification and the young riders' classification marked the first time the same rider had won both categories in the same Tour since Laurent Fignon in 1983. The points classification was won by Ullrich's team mate Erik Zabel, for the second time, and their team Team Telekom also won the team classification. The mountains classification was won by Richard Virenque for the fourth time.
198 riders in 22 teams commenced the 1997 Tour de France. 139 riders finished. The 16 teams with the highest UCI ranking at the start of 1997 were automatically qualified. Six wildcard intivations were also given.
The teams entering the race were:
Chris Boardman won the prologue, and was the first leader of the race. Then, sprinter Mario Cipollini took over the lead thanks to time bonuses. Cédric Vasseur took the lead in the fifth stage after a successful attack, and kept leading the race until the Pyrenées.
Ullrich took the lead in the tenth stage, which he won by more than a minute, beating his team leader, Bjarne Riis by over three minutes and assuming team leadership as well as the overall lead. He became the first German cyclist since 1978 to wear the yellow jersey. he extended his lead by winning stage 12, an individual time trial in Saint-Étienne. In the fourteenth stage, Richard Virenque made an attack to win back time on Ullrich, helped by his entire team. The margin was never more than two minutes, and Ullrich was able to get back to Virenque before the final climb. Virenque won the stage, but Ullrich finished in the same time.
In the rest of the race, Ullrich consolidated his lead, and won with a margin of almost ten minutes.
There were several classifications in the 1997 Tour de France. The most important was the general classification, calculated by adding each cyclist's finishing times on each stage. The cyclist with the least accumulated time was the race leader, identified by the yellow jersey; the winner of this classification is considered the winner of the Tour.
Additionally, there was a points classification, which awarded a green jersey. In the points classification, cyclists got points for finishing among the best in a stage finish, or in intermediate sprints. The cyclist with the most points lead the classification, and was identified with a green jersey.
There was also a mountains classification. The organisation had categorized some climbs as either hors catégorie, first, second, third, or fourth-category; points for this classification were won by the first cyclists that reached the top of these climbs first, with more points available for the higher-categorized climbs. The cyclist with the most points lead the classification, and was identified with a polkadot jersey.
The fourth individual classification was the young rider classification, which was not marked by a jersey. This was decided the same way as the general classification, but only riders under 26 years were eligible.
For the team classification, the times of the best three cyclists per team on each stage were added; the leading team was the team with the lowest total time.
After Ullrich's domination of the 1997 Tour de France at his young age, it was believed that Ullrich would dominate the Tour de France for the next years. However, Ullrich would never win the Tour again, although he did reach the podium five more times.