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Tour de France 2021: Stage 20 preview

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Tour de France 2021 stage 20 profile map

(Image credit: ASO)
Image 2 of 2

Tour de France 2021 stage 20 profile map

(Image credit: ASO)

Stage 20: Libourne - Saint-Emilion

Date: July 17, 2021

Distance: 30.8km

Stage timing: 13:05 - 17:19 CEDT

Stage type: Time trial

Stage 20 preview video

Just a touch shy of 31 kilometres in length, this time trial will suit the specialists in this discipline as well as those riders who cope best with the sapping demands of three-week races.

Shorter and essentially flat compared to last year’s equivalent test to La Planche des Belles Filles, where Tadej Pogačar seized the yellow jersey from compatriot Primož Roglič, it’s unlikely to produce a similar turnaround in fortunes. However, if a pure climber happens to be in the yellow jersey at this point, this could be a very intriguing test indeed.

Running past some of Bordeaux’s most celebrated wineries, notably Pomerol, Petrus, Fronsac and Saint-Émilion, this stage will look beautiful on TV. Starting in the heart of Libourne, the riders will soon be into their biggest gear as they leave the town and head north-east on a dead-straight road.

Just beyond the village of La Patache, the course checks to the east, loops through Pomerol and then follows a comparatively straight trajectory to reach the outskirts of Lussac, at the course’s most easterly point.

Turning south-west here, the riders will power up the only notable rise on the course to reach the intermediate checkpoint at Montagne, with a little more than 10km remaining.

For the next half-dozen kilometres, the road weaves a little more, but the specialists should still be able to maintain their top speed until a sharp corner just inside the 5km-to-go banner, when they will turn south-east towards the finish in Saint-Émilion, this final section once again following a very direct line.

Matt White's view

I don’t think it will be as dramatic as last year, that’s for sure. There’s probably less room to move on a flat time trial when you’re looking at the favourites. I don’t think anyone would have expected last year’s time trial result. Roglič still finished fifth and lost the Tour de France from finishing fifth in the penultimate day’s time trial. I don’t think there’ll be as big gaps and I think it will be more a confirmation of what we’ve seen in that last week.

Last day, or second last day, time-trials in a Grand Tour are less about someone’s time trialling ability and more about how they physically are. So if you’re physically tired you are going to be losing time and if you’re in a good place exiting the Tour de France then time can be made up. But we won’t see the same gaps we saw last year.

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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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