Tour de France 2021 - Stages, schedule, route map and key dates in the battle for yellow jersey
A balanced route that leans slightly towards the general classification rider with a strong time trial, the 2021 Tour de France route is an intriguing prospect. There are as many as eight potential stages for the sprinters, as well as some epic climbing days – including a trip into the Alps in the first week, plus a double-ascent of Mont Ventoux to contend with.
Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic celebrate at the end of stage 21 of the Tour de France 2020
Allons-y, mes amis, the Tour de France is right around the corner, rolling out of Brest next Saturday 26 June.
The 19 teams of the WorldTour plus four invitee teams will converge on the biggest race in the world later this month, with – for the first time in history – two Slovenians going in as favourites. Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) will be looking to reignite the rivalry that memorably took last year’s race right down to the wire, while the comically strong Ineos Grenadiers squad look to make up with sheer numbers what they lack in an out-and-out favourite.
It’s a sprint-heavy Tour route this year with a potential eight stages for a bunch gallop, which might produce a rare green jersey win for a pure sprinter. That being said, there’s still plenty for the grimpeurs to grapple with, including a double ascent of Mont Ventoux, in what Eurosport UK is referring to as the Ven-Two stage.
18 July, Stage 21: Chatou - Paris Champs-Élysées (112km, flat)
Tour de France 2021 - route map
The Tour de France route for 2021
Image credit: Eurosport
Tour de France 2021 - KEY stages
30 June, Stage 5: Changé - Laval (27.2km, ITT)
It seems very likely that the winner of this stage will secure the yellow jersey, given its length and the relatively few opportunities to take time in the preceding four stages. It’s actually the longest opening week time trial since 2008, so it’s far from being a quick bash around a city centre to ‘kick off’ Le Tour as we sometimes see.
27km is enough road to really separate the wheat from the chaff, and a specialist like Primož Roglič could certainly use this as an opportunity to strike the first real blow in the GC contest.
Up into the Alps we go! Bloodied and beleaguered at the end of a hard opening ‘week’ (nine days, in fact), this stage will act as a real haymaker for those riders who are just hoping to reach the rest day. To hit the mountains so early in the race is rare, even cruel – but the finish is not as nasty as it might be, with a flattening off into the finish that might allow a dropped rider or two back into the pack.
Ven-Two! The most-fearsome climb in the Tour de France makes a return to the parcours this year and – not content with climbing it once, those sadistic route-planners at ASO are making the peloton go up and down the Giant of Provence twice. The wind might play a factor in this stage as it did in 2016 when the stage was shortened, and Chris Froome got off and ran.
It’s hard to predict how this year’s green jersey competition will play out, but this stage could provide a real flashpoint in the race for the maillot vert. With a double-Ventoux day in the legs, any sprinters with a little bit of energy might be persuaded to try and rip this stage into pieces – and if they do, all hell could break out in the GC too. If the famous Mistral wind starts to blow, turn that anarchy dial up to 11.
The Tour de France reaches its literal - and possibly figurative – high point. The 2,408m Port d’Envalira is the penultimate climb of the day, with a downhill finish in Andorra. This parcours has breakaway written all over it, so expect a climbing specialist who is not high on GC to go for the Souvenir Henri Desgrange, and the stage win to boot.
Stage 15 profile: Céret - Andorre-La-Vieille
14 July, Stage 17: Muret - Saint-Lary-Soulan Col du Portet (174.8km)
Expect every Frenchman and his chien to be in the break on this stage, it’s ‘quatorze juillet’, better known on the other side of the channel as ‘Bastille Day’. It’s the first part of a double whammy of hors categorie summit finishes, so it’ll be intriguing to see when and where the general classification teams decide to start tearing each other to pieces. With the second individual time trial looming at the end of this week, pure climbers will be looking for any opportunity to stick the boot into the TT specialists.
Final day TTs are boring… except – as 2020 proved – when they’re not. The whole Tour de France could be decided right here in the vineyards outside Bordeaux. It’s a very flat, and long course, so it really is all about the power. Surely we won’t see the yellow jersey change shoulders on the last day again!