Date: Saturday 26th June - Sunday 18th July
Grand Départ: Brittany, France
TV Coverage: Eurosport/GCN Race Pass, ITV4, S4C
Total Distance: 3383 km
The excitement of the next edition of the Tour de France begins as soon as the winner of the previous edition crosses the line on the Champs-Elysées. The 2021 event is particularly special as we all look forward in hope after a turbulent year wracked with the realities of living in a pandemic.
Allez! Allez! The show must go on and that it will! We’ve never been more ready for the 2021 Tour de France and we can’t wait for three weeks of racing to begin on Saturday 26th June in the French coastal city of Brest.
Tour de France 2021 route and stages
The Tour de France 2021 route is split into four categories: flat, hilly, mountain and time trial stages. Each year, team managers will use the route to decide which riders to take. In previous years, the route has favoured sprinters over time-trialists but this year, that looks to have changed.
In recent years, the Grand Départ has kicked off proceedings both within France and as far away as the United Kingdom and Ireland. Following the Grand Départ, the race ventures across France in the direction of the mountains. This year the route’s first mountainous port of call is the Alps then the Pyrenees. The order of the mountains typically alternates year-on-year.
Flat Stages of the Tour de France 2021
Out of the 21 stages of the Tour this year, most of them are classified as flat. They’re evenly spread out throughout the whole event but with sprinters keen to make their mark on the race before the mountains, it’s likely to be a fiery start to the race.
Flat stages are prime opportunities for bunch sprints. The yellow jersey usually belongs to a sprinter at this stage of the race and it’s his team’s job to set him up for bonus finish line points to increase his lead before reaching the mountains.
Arguably the most famous stage of the race is one of the flattest - Stage 21 which finishes on the most distinguished road in Paris. Though it is little more than a procession for the yellow jersey, a win on the Champs-Elysées is a special moment in a rider’s career.
- Stage 3: Lorient - Pontivy, 182 km
- Stage 4: Redon - Fougères, 152 km
- Stage 6: Tours - Châteauroux, 144 km
- Stage 10: Albertville - Valence, 186 km
- Stage 12: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux - Nîmes, 161 km
- Stage 13: Nîmes - Carcassonne, 220 km
- Stage 19: Mourenx - Libourne, 203 km
- Stage 21: Chatou - Paris Champs-Elysées, 112 km
Hilly Stages of the Tour de France 2021
The rolling roads of France feature regularly throughout this year’s event. The race begins with two such stages in the Armorican Mountains of Brittany where there’ll be no time for a warm up on the steep slopes of north-western France.
Hilly stages tend to feature both short, punchy climbs as well as longer but more gentle ascents. Indeed the longest stage of this year’s race is hilly, featuring an eye watering 18% leg-burning climb up the Le Signal d’Uchon - a climb that’s never been used in the Tour before.
- Stage 1: Brest - Landerneau, 187 km
- Stage 2: Perros-Guirec - Mûr-de-bretagne Guerlédan, 182 km
- Stage 7: Vierzon - Le Creusot, 248 km
- Stage 14: Carcassonne - Quillan, 184 km
- Stage 16: Pas de la Case - Saint-Gaudens, 169 km
Mountain Stages of the Tour de France 2021
The mythical mountains of the Tour are often where the race is decided. As well as the mountains of Brittany, the Massif Central, the Alps and the Pyrenees will devour the riders this year. The first mountain stage appears on 3rd July with no less than three mountains to ascend at the back end of the stage.
There’s as much skill involved in the climb as there is on the descent but with the recent announcement of new safety measures, we’re not going to see riders do the supertuck in an effort to glide through the air a little quicker than their opponents.
Tignes returns this year after a somewhat catastrophic 2019 which saw a landslide prematurely end the stage and the yellow jersey change hands. This same town will host the first summit finish of the Tour where we expect fireworks before the first rest day.
Stage 11 of this year’s Tour de France sees the peloton return to Mont Ventoux not once but twice, first from Sault and then from Bedoin.
On the eve of the second rest day in Andorra, the riders have to get themselves up and over the highest col of the entire race: Port d’Envalira at 2408 m above sea level.
The Pyrenees is the last mountain range on the Tour de France route, which again features a summit finish on Stage 17 up the Col de Portet. The final mountain stage combines two giants: the Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden.
- Stage 8: Oyonnax - Le Grand-Bornand, 151 km
- Stage 9: Cluses - Tignes, 145 km
- Stage 11: Sorgues - Malaucène, 199 km
- Stage 15: Céret - Andorre-La-Vieille, 161 km
- Stage 17: Muret - Saint-Lary-Soulan Col du Portet, 178 km
- Stage 18: Pau - Luz Ardiden, 130 km
Time Trials of the Tour de France 2021
We saw one of the most nail-biting finishes to a Grand Tour in recent history during last year’s final individual time trial on Les Planches des Belles Filles. Tadej Pogacar snatched the rainbow jersey as Primoz Roglic gave everything he could to save himself.
This year we’re being treated to two individual time trials, however both are relatively flat. Despite the lack of elevation, these two stages could prove to be decisive in the general classification especially as Tour de France winners are historically very good time trialists.
- Stage 5: Changé - Laval Espace Mayenne ITT, 27 km
- Stage 20: Libourne - Saint-Emilion ITT, 31 km
- Stage 20: Libourne - Saint-Emilion ITT, 31 km
Who’s riding the 2021 Tour de France?
A lot of teams structure their riders’ seasons around Grand Tours, particularly the Tour de France. Already most teams have named at least a handful of riders who’ll make their way to Brest on 26th June. Teams will choose riders who excel both in the mountains and in time trials.
Team Ineos have confirmed their team which includes the 2020 Giro d’Italia winner Tao Geoghegan-Hart alongside the 2015 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas.
Last year’s winner Tadej Pogacar will return with UAE-Team Emirates with a strong support squad to take turns on the front. The TdF showdown of 2020 will resume with Primoz Roglic lining up with Team Jumbo-Visma.
Speaking of showdowns, we’ll also see Alpecin-Fenix at this year’s tour and with them will be Mathieu van der Poel, the 2021 Cyclocross World Champion. After what we hope is a fruitful Classics season for MVDP, we’ll be looking forward to seeing the two cyclocross riders jumping on to their road bikes.
Other Canyon contenders for the yellow jersey will be Nairo Quintana (Team Arkea Samsic) and Enric Mas (Team Movistar), who won the young rider jersey last year. He’ll be unable to defend the young rider jersey this year, so can he take yellow?
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