The grand départ of the 2021 Tour de France is just a few weeks away, with the race due to get underway on Saturday June 26 in Brittany. Among those on the start line will be defending champion Tadej Pogačar, who will be hoping to retain his yellow jersey in Paris again this year. The Slovenian is interviewed as part of Procycling magazine’s race preview edition, which also comes with a 36-page guide complete with all you need to know about the race route and teams.
Having become the youngest Tour winner since 1904 last September, the then 21-year-old Pogačar beat Primoz Roglič last year in a dramatic final day turnaround in the Planche des Belles Filles time trial. He will return to France as the leader of his UAE Emirates team this summer, after a spring campaign that’s seen him win the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and a first monument title at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
“For now I’m riding like this and it’s all good, I’m healthy and everything is okay. Obviously I hope it will continue like this. But you never know what can happen,” Pogačar told Procycling.
“Defending a title is the hardest thing to do, but if you won a race before you can win it again.” Then he adds with a half-smile. “Probably.”
Pogačar’s biggest rival is arguably set to be Roglič once again, his compatriot and friend off the bike. Slovenia is a nation with a short cycling history, but fate has dictated that two champion riders would emerge from the country at once. Kate Wagner examines the relationship between Pogačar and Roglič. Can they be friends? It’s complicated...
The two Slovenian’s might be the two strongest Tour contenders, but the strongest team is likely to be Ineos-Grenadiers, who have dominated stage racing so far in 2021 taking five GC wins. With three grand tour winners in Geraint Thomas, Richard Carapaz and Tao Geoghegan Hart potentially set to lead, and a supporting cast which could include Richie Porte, Rohan Dennis, Michał Kwiatkowski and Luke Rowe, Sophie Hurcom asks how the British squad might tackle this year’s race, and reclaim their position as the Tour’s number one squad.
The sprinting field at the Tour has always been highly competitive, but there has been little to pick between the top riders in recent years. Marcel Kittel was the Tour’s most dominant sprinter between 2013 and 2017, and while he may have retired from racing a recent study into his physiological numbers show just what it takes to win a Tour sprint. Sam Blanchard finds out more.
Groupama-FDJ riders David Gaudu and Valentin Madouas are both from Brittany, where the 2021 Tour’s grand départ will take place. The Frenchmen, who both hope to be on the race’s startline, tell Edward Pickering why the region is such a hotbed of cycling.
“We Bretons, whether it’s in cycling or in life, are very chauvinistic. Very proud, we have a lot of solidarity with each other and you see a lot of Breton flags. We have an identity which is different from other regions,” said Madouas.
The showpiece stage of this year’s Tour is stage 11, featuring two ascents of the mythical Mont Ventoux. The Giant of Provence will be climbed twice for the first time in the Tour’s history, as Jeremy Whittles asks what is it about the mountain that fuels drama and inspires obsessive behaviour?
The Ventoux stage is one of six mountain stages in this year’s Tour route, meaning the foundations of the race victory will be again laid in the Pyrenees and Alps. But as James Witts finds out, how well a rider and his team model drag, power-to-weight ratio and wheel choice could also have a big impact.
While La Course is due to take place on Saturday June 26th for its seventh edition, next year will also see the revival of a women’s Tour de France. Organisers ASO confirmed they will launch a new women’s stage race in 2022, and among the teams excited is FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope, the number one women’s team in France. As one of the longest-running teams in the women’s peloton, Sophie Hurcom profiles a traditional team, with a forward looking mindset.
The May issue also features all our regulars, including diarists Kevin Reza, Brodie Chapman and Charlie Quarterman, as well as Dan Martin and our columnist Laurens ten Dam.
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