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Tour de France 2021: Stage 3 preview

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Stage 3 profile 2021 Tour de France

Stage 3 profile (Image credit: ASO)
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Stage 3 map 2021 Tour de France

Stage 3 map (Image credit: ASO)

Stage 3: Lorient - Pontivy

Date: June 28, 2021 

Distance: 182.9km

Stage timing: 13:10 - 17:24 CEST

Stage type: Flat

Stage 3 preview video

This stage starts in the hometown of 2017 King of the Mountains Warren Barguil and that’s sure to mean that the Arkea-Samsic climber will be the centre of attention. However, there’s not much on the route to encourage hopes of the Breton pulling off what would be the most popular of victories in Pontivy. That’s because, after two days when the puncheurs should have dominated proceedings, day three is earmarked for the sprinters. Given their number and quality on the start list, including Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Arnaud Démare (Groupama FDJ), Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) and Elia Viviani (Cofidis), they’re unlikely to pass up this opportunity to strut their stuff.

From Lorient, the route runs parallel to the Atlantic to begin and reach Carnac, the site of more than 10,000 Neolithic standing stones. Soon after, the route turns away from the sea and towards the north-east through the heart of the department of Morbihan. It passes through Grand-Champ, which hosted the French national road championships last year, and continues to the first of the day’s two categorised climbs, the Côte de Cadoudal, known as “the Breton Alpe d’Huez”, the site of a stage finish on the opening day of the 2008 Tour, when Alejandro Alejandro was the winner and took the yellow jersey, and of the team time trial in 2015 edition, when BMC edged Sky by a second.

At Josselin, the riders will turn west, passing through the intermediate sprint and, soon after, Radenac, the village where 1947 Tour winner Jean Robic was brought up. The second climb, the Côte de Pluméliau, arrives with 35km remaining. There are further undulations on this last stretch, but nothing that will trouble the sprinters now that they have the finish almost in their sights. Reaching Pontivy, the final straight is wide and a kilometre and a half long, ideal for a tense and very high-octane sprint battle.

Audrey Cordon Ragot's view

Pontivy is the town where I was born and I know this final very well, it’s where I started cycling, so I know the finish by heart. This is a bunch sprint stage but, again, the weather in Bretagne is always unpredictable and could play a factor in the outcome of the race. It’s a technical route and the final very technical, and so if it’s wet it could be a disaster. 

On a technical final like this, I can see Deceuninck-QuickStep being the most efficient team to really bring their sprinter to the finish. It’s downhill, right and then left to the finish and very technical. It will be a bunch sprint but the winner will be someone who likes to corner and who is not scared.

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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