06/24/2021 at 9:25 PM CEST
The Tour has decided this year to limit the field of operations for sprinters and to try to activate the event practically from the first kilometer, which is why there will be a high finish in the first stage. With a double ascent of Ventoux, after visiting the Alps and with a Pyrenees that will be more decisive, the race has scheduled two individual time trials. The test begins this Saturday in the Breton city of Brest.
First stage. Brest-Landerneau, 197.8 km.
Special attention deserves the probable appearance of the wind with very uncertain weather in Brittany as is usually the custom in this Atlantic area of France. There will be no sprint, nor time trial as was traditional in the first stage of the French round. On the contrary, a fierce fight is expected on the final slope because the winner will win the reward of the yellow jersey, in a fight in which both the contenders for the final triumph such as Pogacar and Roglic, veterans led by Valverde, can enter a world champion named Alaphilippe and the one who seems the top favorite to victory that is none other than Van der Poel. The final level, called the Trench of the Wolves, has a 3-kilometer rise, at 5.7% and a maximum difficulty of 14%.
Second stage. Perros Guirec-Wall of Brittany, 183.5 km.
A similar situation presents the second stage, again through Breton territories, but towards the interior. Again with uncertain weather, the second day is presented with six heights, the last one is already known by the cycling fan, the Wall of Brittany, a straight of 2 kilometers that presents an average percentage of 6.9%, an ideal scenario to animate the final phase of the stage.
Third stage. Lorient-Pontivy, 182.5 km.
Brittany had to be a little kind, just a little, with the sprinters and let them enjoy a massive arrival so that they can fight each other, while the protagonists of the first two stages of the event regain their strength. It is difficult to contemplate at this stage any option other than a sprint.
Fourth stage. Redon-Fougères, 150.4 km.
A pity that runners do not have time to visit, or even contemplate, the wonderful fortress of Fougères, one of the most impressive in Europe, in what will be the Breton farewell to the Tour. With 150 kilometers a nervous stage is expected and surely with a very high average speed to prepare for the second sprint of the race.
Fifth stage. Changé-Laval 27.2 kms (time trial).
Since 2008, with the final victory of Carlos Sastre, the Tour did not include an individual time trial with a similar mileage to break the succession of flat stages on the journey to the Alps. The test enters the Loire territories with a flat ‘chrono’ where the favorites will have to do their best, on a day in which there may be a change of starter in the yellow ‘jersey’ and with two intermediate time controls.
Sixth stage. Tours-Châteauroux, 160.6 km.
The Tour continues in the Loire places to reach the city of Châteuroux in what may be the last sprint in days in this edition of 2021. In principle, it will be very difficult for the long-awaited getaway to arrive, which will free up work for the The runner’s team that won the yellow jersey in the individual time trial the day before.
Seventh stage. Vierzon-Le Creusot, 249.1 km.
Very complicated stage because it is the longest of the Tour and because in the final phase there is no less than a 3,000-meter drop with five passes; the last, called Signal d’Uchon, is presented as the first ‘encerrona’ of the race. With a beautiful setting, it is an ascent of almost 6 kilometers that has an average percentage of 5.7% and whose summit is 18 kilometers from the goal of Le Creusot, a commune located 160 kilometers north of Lyon.
Eighth stage. Oyonnax-Le Grand Bornand, 150.8 km.
After the first race transfer of the Tour 2021, the Alps arrive, in a short and therefore nervous day that includes the first three first-class passes of the race: Mont de Saxonnex, Romme and the famous climb to the Colombière, whose summit It is located 14 kilometers, always downhill, from the finish line at the Le Grand Bornand ski resort, which has been common in recent years in the life of the French round.
Ninth stage. Cluses-Tignes, 144.9 km.
The Tour wanted to bet this year on presenting the two alpine stages with a very short route in order to look for attacks from the first kilometer. In the alpine farewell, and before the first of the two rest days, the runners will have to ascend five passes, two of first, another two of second, and the first mountain of special category (the Pre col). The final climb to Tignes, which in 2019 had to be canceled due to a spectacular hail storm with displacement of lands, comes with 21 kilometers at an average of 5.6%. The summit is located one kilometer from the finish line.
Tenth stage. Albertville-Valence, 190.7 km.
Place bets, will there be a leak? Another sprint before Ventoux? After the first day of rest, everything can happen as the Tour leaders, supposedly, will want to continue to regain their strength from the next day’s effort on the slopes of the ‘Giant of Provence’.
11th stage. Sorgues-Malaucène, 198.9 km.
The Tour pays tribute to one of its myths, nothing less than the ‘Giant of Provence’ as Ventoux is known, the mountain whose top resembles a desert due to the ecological disaster that caused in the 19th century and earlier to uproot all trees to build boats. The wind is usually also another determining factor in a climb, marked by the death of Tom Simpson in 1967, the first recognized deceased due to doping, which this year is presented with a double ascent, the first longer and almost unprecedented by the Sault slope, in 2021 in which all the asphalt of the mountain has been renewed. The second pass through Mont Ventoux is on the south face, the best known and also tough, with 15.7 kilometers at 8.8%. The summit is 22 kilometers downhill from the finish line.
12th stage. Saint Paul Trois Châteaux-Nîmes, 159.6 km.
The sprinters will only have been careful not to get out of control in the double visit to Ventoux since in this 12th stage they may have the last chance to experience a duel before Paris, since the intermediate days, called transition, from now, they will be a call to escape in group or solo. Be careful also with the heat that can be done on the way to Nîmes.
13th stage. Nîmes-Carcassonne, 219’9 km.
A visit to the famous citadel of Carcassonne is always fantastic. The Tour will circulate through the broken Occitan roads although without banners indicating mountain passes. However, this day is called to decide on a getaway before starting, even in a moderate way, contact with the pre-Pyrenees. It is the second of the three scheduled stages with more than 200 kilometers.
14th stage. Carcassonne-Quillan, 183.7 km.
If you go by car, from Carcassonne to Quillan there are only 52 kilometers by road. However, runners will go around the famous medieval city with five mountain passes; the last one, San Luis, has the summit located 17 kilometers from the finish line.
15th stage. Céret-Andorra la Vella, 191.3 kms.
The Tour squad travels from the outskirts of Toulouse to Andorra la Vella, in the first major stage through the Pyrenees and in the only foray abroad that the French round has made this year. Two of the day’s ascents deserve attention above all, Envalira, with the summit at 2,408 meters of altitude (the highest in the test) and Beixalis, a very hard slope, with 6.4 kilometers and an average of 8.5 km , from Encamp and to La Massana. These are territories that cyclists know very well since a wide representation of runners participating in the Tour have settled in Andorra, which will host the second and last day of rest.
16th stage. Pas de la Casa-Saint Gaudens, 169 km.
The Tour returns to France from Pas de la Casa to face the smoothest of the Pyrenean stages that includes the climbs to Port, Core and Portet d’Aspet, in a day that is called a getaway in a group or alone. An important day for the squads that have their sights set on the team classification.
17th stage. Muret-Col del Portet, 178.4 km.
Very decisive day on the Tour where the leader’s jersey can already color one of the great favorites in yellow. The arrival at Col del Portet, released in 2018 with the victory of Nairo Quintana, is very tough after 16 kilometers at an average of 8.7% from Saint Lary-Soulan. It is the first of the two high-altitude arrivals considered to be special category ports and, furthermore, the longest of the high-altitude stages. Before the Portet, as an aperitif, the climbs to Peyresourde and Val Louron where Miguel Induráin first dressed in yellow 30 years ago.
18th stage. Pau-Luz Ardiden, 129.7 kms
The Tourmalet arrives and they are big words even though the stage is only 129.7 km long, which will not detract from its appeal if cyclists decide to take action as soon as the starting flag is lowered. Everything will depend on how the general is, the control that the leader’s team does and if there is a desire to assault the yellow jersey. The Tourmalet is climbed up the slope of Sainte Marie de Campan. Luz Ardiden is reached after 13.3 kilometers of ascent at an average rate of 7.4%.
19th stage. Mourens-Libourne, 207 km.
It is very difficult that at this stage of the Tour and with more than 200 kilometers in sight, after exhaustion in the Pyrenees, a team with a sprinter surviving the mountain wants to control the peloton and put a kind of bolt that prevents leaks, so the arrival in the surroundings of Bordeaux is reserved for the last break in the French round of 2021.
20th stage. Libourne-Saint Emilion, 30.8 km (time trial)
If there is something left to be decided or if there is a surprise like last year at the Planche des Belles Filles (ask Primoz Roglic) the final time trial should define the overall. A tour through the Bordeaux vineyards before transfer to Paris.
21st stage. Chatou-Paris, 108 km.
As is traditional, the Tour ends again on the Champs Elysees. If there are no unpleasant surprises this year, unlike 2020, it will be celebrated with an audience. There will be eight laps of the most famous avenue in France. Attention because the stage will end around 7:00 p.m. to begin the formal act of the delivery of ‘jerseys’.