Tour de France 2021 race wrap-up
From the yellow jersey to sprint trains that threatened other WorldTour teams, we review the 2021 Tour de France.
The Tour de France is always a special time of the year. It’s the beginning of summer in Europe and the beginning of the greatest race on earth. It’s all eyes on France for three weeks of showcasing the world’s greatest cycling spectacle.
The first week of the Tour de France saw Mathieu van der Poel further establish his dominance on the world cycling stage after taking the yellow jersey from the French World Champion Julian Alaphilippe. He did what his grandfather never achieved. Even the coldest of hearts would’ve warmed with the emotion that poured from Mathieu in his post-race interviews that week.
It was clear that the Alpecin-Fenix rider is not just a cyclo-cross world champion, but a rider that can line up and win Grand Tours stages. Though it was only his first, we’re sure it certainly won’t be the last time we see van der Poel leave the peloton in his wake during the Tour.
Movistar had high hopes for this Tour given Enric Mas’ recent performance in the Vuelta a Espana last year. A strong team on the start line produced some good results most notably Alejandro Valverde finishing second on Stage 15 in Andorra-la-Vella. His perseverance and stunning athletic ability never disappoints his rivals and spectators alike. It’s always great to see someone with such a long history with the sport still fighting at the pointy end.
Arkea-Samsic took a strong team to the Tour de France this year with five Frenchmen, two Brits and the peloton’s favourite Colombian climber (sorry, Egan!) Nairo Quintana. The King of the Mountains jersey is always high on the priority list for Quintana who is no stranger to wearing polka dots having won it in 2013. He managed to hold it this year on stages 9-13.
It’s commonplace to sit back and reflect on the tour in the days afterwards and we can’t help but feel immense pride for every single one of our Canyon riders. Jasper Philipsen and Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) were constant thorns in the side of multimillion-dollar WorldTour teams. They prodded and poked their way to the finish contesting almost all the sprint stages.
One of the men they couldn’t beat was the Manx Missile Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quickstep) who now stands alongside Eddy Merckx as the rider with the most Tour de France stage victories in history (34). To miss out on stage victories to someone of that kind of stature while you’re racing your first Tour de France ever isn’t bad, is it?
The one skill that was constantly highlighted throughout the Tour was the power and finesse of the Alpecin-Fenix sprint train. Where other obvious WorldTour teams were nowhere to be seen, you could guarantee that the navy blue and red jerseys of Alpecin-Fenix were driving the pace higher and higher in an effort to bring the race to a nail-biting crescendo. And they did it stage, after stage, after stage.
One of the standout sprinters of this year’s Tour was Jasper Philipsen, who had no fewer than five podium finishes in this Tour. He is the first Canyon rider to podium on the Champs Elysees since 2016 and one of our best ever results in the Sprinters Classification (green jersey). Next year, he’ll be on the top step.
And that’s our greatest victory from this Tour de France. Yes, Mathieu wore the yellow jersey and yes there were podium finishes on multiple stages but best of all we won the gifts of hope and promise.
Hope for the future of cycling, the promise of Grand Tour winners within just a couple of years from now. The talent coming through to the highest level of our sport was indeed the most exciting aspect of this year’s Tour.