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Grand (Tour) Plans: Who's racing where in 2021

PARIS FRANCE SEPTEMBER 20 Podium Primoz Roglic of Slovenia and Team Jumbo Visma Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia and UAE Team Emirates Yellow Leader Jersey Richie Porte of Australia and Team Trek Segafredo Celebration Trophy Mask Covid safety measures during the 107th Tour de France 2020 Stage 21 a 122km stage from MantesLaJolie to Paris Champslyses TDF2020 LeTour on September 20 2020 in Paris France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

With races being cancelled by the day, making concrete plans for the new season still seems a bit of a fool's errand yet most WorldTour teams now have a picture of their major goals and where they’ll be sending their riders in 2021. 

Training camps have been taking place throughout Europe and as far as the UAE this January, with pre-season meetings an ideal occasion to thrash out race programmes. 

As always the outlines around which the calendar is coloured in are the Grand Tours, with the Giro d'Italia from May 8-30, the Tour de France from June 26-July 18, and the Vuelta a España from August 14-September 5.

2020 Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar has already confirmed he will target a second yellow jersey, before going on to ride the Vuelta a España. UAE Team Emirates have announced that the Slovenian will be joined in France by new signing Marc Hirschi and Alexander Kristoff.

Jumbo-Visma, who were rocked when Pogačar snatched yellow from Primož Roglič on the penultimate time trial, have announced that they’ll return to France with Steven Kruijswijk joining Roglič and perhaps Tom Dumoulin, depending on how long he takes out of the sport. 

Chris Froome has stated his aim of winning a fifth yellow jersey as he embarks on life at Israel Start-Up Nation, while Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), and the Movistar duo of Enric Mas and Miguel Angel López are all set to play a part in the overall battle.

The greatest Grand Tour mystery surrounds Ineos Grenadiers, who have yet to publicly outline their plans for 2021.

2019 Tour de France champion Egan Bernal suggested in one interview that he would target the Tour, but then in another that he would prefer to make his Giro debut. The British team also have former Grand Tour winners Geraint Thomas, Richard Carapaz, and Tao Geoghegan Hart to consider, plus new signing Adam Yates.

With so many flat stages, it’s no surprise to see a quality sprint field already in place, featuring the likes of Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), and the Bora-Hansgrohe duo of Pascal Ackermann and Peter Sagan. 

Giro popularity and Olympic uncertainty

The Tour isn’t for everyone, however. 

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) have already taken a look at the 58km of time trialling on the 2021 route and decided it’s not worth their time. Despite the fact that the route for the Giro d’Italia has yet to be publicly unveiled, they’ve already decided to head to Italy in May. 

Another factor that could put even more riders off the Tour is the Olympic Games road race, which takes place in Tokyo just five days after the peloton reaches Paris. While many riders enjoy good form in the races following a Grand Tour, there is little wiggle room when it comes to overcoming jetlag and acclimatising. What’s causing the real uncertainty is the coronavirus situation, and the lack of clarity over whether the Games will actually go ahead and if athletes would have to quarantine for a certain period of time upon arrival in Japan. 

Remco Evenepoel is arguably a Giro favourite but there's even uncertainty about his 2021 after he was forced to slow his recovery from his Il Lombardia crash. The pelvis fracture that prevented him from making his Grand Tour debut in Italy last season has thrown up more complications. He stopped training in mid-December, with no specific timeframe on his return to racing or if he will ride the Corsa Rosa. 

As well as Pinot and Buchmann, challengers for the maglia rosa include two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali - part of a Trek-Segafredo team that also includes Mollema and Giulio Ciccone -  Mikel Landa - who's doing the Giro-Tour double - George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), Alexandr Vlasov (Astana), and Marc Soler (Movistar).

La Vuelta

As for the Vuelta, the start list is always a little thinner at this time of the year. Given it’s autumn slot, it’s more of an afterthought, with riders waiting to see how they perform and come out of the Giro or Tour. 

While Pogačar has announced his presence at the race where he won three stages and finished third overall in 2019, Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) is the rider who has shouted loudest about his intentions, with the plan to learn from Vincenzo Nibali at the Giro before taking the reins in Spain. 

Movistar, predictably, are treating their home race with the utmost respect, sending all four of their Grand Tour leaders, with Alejandro Valverde and Marc Soler - who’s leading at the Giro - joining Mas and López. 

The Vuelta has also been treated as a warm-up race for World Championships contenders, and Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) has confirmed his presence ahead of trying to right his 2019 Yorkshire wrongs on a Flanders course that should suit the Classics specialists. However, the majority of the big-name Classics stars are likely to head to the Tour de France once the spring commitments are out of the way. 

Mikel Landa and Bauke Mollema are doing the Giro-Tour double but the award for Grand Tour enthusiast goes to Caleb Ewan, who's racing all three, with the aim of winning stages in all three - something not seen since Alessandro Petacchi in 2003.

Below is a list of confirmed riders for each Grand Tour, which we'll be keeping updated as we get more information.

Giro d’Italia

GC riders

  • Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
  • Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)
  • Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo)
  • Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)
  • Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo)
  • Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe)
  • George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma)
  • Alexandr Vlasov (Astana)
  • Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious)
  • Marc Soler (Movistar)
  • Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates)
  • Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates)
  • Domenico Pozzovivo (Qhubeka Assos)

Sprinters

  • Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal)
  • Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ)
  • Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates)
  • Elia Viviani (Cofidis)

Tour de France

GC riders

  • Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)
  • Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation)
  • Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma)
  • Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma)
  • Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious)
  • Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)
  • Enric Mas (Movistar)
  • Miguel Angel López (Movistar)
  • David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ)
  • Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe)
  • Guillaume Martin (Cofidis)

Sprinters

  • Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
  • Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal)
  • Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ)
  • Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe)
  • Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)
  • Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates)
  • Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo)
  • Elia Viviani (Cofidis)

Other

  • Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
  • Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates)
  • Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)
  • Jakob Fuglsang (Astana-Premier Tech)
  • Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal)

Vuelta a España

GC riders

  • Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)
  • Enric Mas (Movistar)
  • Miguel Angel López (Movistar)
  • Marc Soler (Movistar)
  • Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
  • Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo)

Sprinters

  • Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal)
  • Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates)

As Features Editor, Patrick is responsible for Cyclingnews' long-form and in-depth output. Patrick joined Cyclingnews in 2015 as a staff writer after a work experience stint that included making tea and being sent to the Tour de Langkawi. Prior to that, he studied French and Spanish at university and went on to train as a journalist. Rides his bike to work but more comfortable on a football pitch.