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Tour de France 2021: Stage 11 preview

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Tour de France 2021 stage 11 profile map

(Image credit: ASO)
Image 2 of 2

Tour de France 2021 stage 11 profile map

(Image credit: ASO)

Stage 11: Saugues - Malaucène

Date: July 7, 2021 

Distance: 198.9km

Stage timing: 12:00 - 17:18 CEDT

Stage type: Mountain

Stage 11 preview video

This highly anticipated stage that features the Tour’s first ever double ascent of Mont Ventoux takes place wholly within the Vaucluse. It starts in the Rhône valley at Sorgues, where 'the Giant of Provence' is a looming presence on clear days, heading east to begin with into the Luberon Natural Park.

Here, there are two fourth-category climbs that will provide a launch pad for the break if it’s not formed beforehand and a chance for the escapees to open up a significant gap on the peloton. The route weaves its way onwards to Apt, where it tacks directly to the north, leaving the Luberon via the first-category Liguière pass.

The steady drop from the Liguière leads to Sault and the start of the first ascent of the Ventoux, via the easiest of the three routes to this infamous summit, but also the longest at 22.5km. Winding up through thick woodland, the gradient isn’t at all taxing until the road reaches Chalet Reynard and joins the route up from Bédoin. At this point, above the trees and exposed to the elements, the gradient becomes significantly steeper, the distinctive tower at the summit regularly visible but never seeming to get closer as the road weaves in and out of the gulleys etched into the mountainside.

From the summit, which is rated first-category on this first passage, the riders will plunge down the western side of the Ventoux to Malaucène, a descent where 1966 Tour winner Lucien Aimar said the police motorbike following him down this flank in 1967 touched 140km/h. After passing through the finish at Malaucène for the first time, the riders will bump over the uncategorised (and not the renowned) Col de la Madeleine to Bédoin to take on the classic ascent of the Ventoux, 15.7km long and averaging 8.8%.

The first section through the woods to Chalet Reynard is relentlessly steep. At the tiny ski station, the riders will return to the course they followed 90 minutes earlier, battling up to the summit, then hurtling away from it down to the finish in Malaucène.

Audrey Cordon Ragot's view

I just spent three weeks training at Mont Ventoux, and I know stage 11 pretty well, and it’s a really nice parcour. The field will race up Mont Ventoux twice, but they do not finish at the top. The first time is from the easier side and the second time up is from the harder side, but both of them are really mythical. 

Mont Ventoux is a mythical climb and they have been working a lot of the roads to make it good for the spectators, so they are expecting a  lot of people to come out to cheer for the riders. For me, this will be the queen stage of the Tour de France because of the location and because it is on such an iconic climb. 

The nicest part of this stage is that it doesn’t finish at the top,  but the riders have to descend toward a somewhat technical finish, and so it could suit someone like Richie Porte because the descent is not too technical, and he could really go full-gas to the finish line in Malaucène.

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).

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