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Tour de France 2021

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Tour de France 2021 map

The route of the 2021 Tour de France  (Image credit: ASO)

The 2021 Tour de France will start in Brest in Brittany, on Saturday, June 26 having originally been scheduled for a Grand Départ in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The opening two stages to Landerneau and Mûr-de-Bretagne will provide a chance for the puncheurs, versatile sprinters and climbers to take the maillot jaune early on before the sprinters get two chances to win as the race heads east across the centre of France.

An early GC showdown will come on stage 5 with the 27.2-kilometre time trial from Changé to Laval Espace Mayenne before the road racing resumes with two stages that take the peloton to the Alps.

Stage 8 to Le Grand Bornard will see the first major climbing of the Tour, with three first-category climbs – including the Col de la Colombière – in the second part of the 150.8-kilometre stage. The following day to the 21-kilometre long summit finish at Tignes is just as tough, revisiting the Critérium du Dauphiné one-two of the Col du Pré and Cormet de Roselend.

Tignes also hosts the first rest day on July 5, ahead of a sprint stage in Valence and stage 11's visit to Mont Ventoux, which will be tackled twice before a descent straight to the finish in Malaucène.

Nîmes and Carcassonne offer up two more sprint chances on the following days before a nailed-on breakaway stage in the hills to Quillan take the peloton to the Pyrenees.

There, stage 15 to Andorra brings with it three first-category tests, including the Souvenir Henri Desgrange as the race hits 2,408 metres at Port d'Envalira. A rest day in the microstate. A tough stage to Saint-Gaudens follows but all minds will be on the final two mountain stages.

Stage 17 takes the riders over the Col de Peyresourde and Col de Val Louron-Azet before the HC-rated summit finish at 2,215 metres at the Col du Portet. Stage 18 provides two more HC tests in the Col du Tourmalet and the summit finish at Luz Ardiden, the last chance for climbers to make their mark.

A penultimate sprint stage follows, taking the peloton to Libourne, where stage 20 brings the GC finale in the shape of a 30.8-kilometre time trial to Saint-Emilion. If the Tour hasn't already been decided, then it certainly will be here.

As ever, the grand finale and the crowning of the Tour de France champion comes in Paris on the Champs-Élysées following a 108.4-kilometre ride from Chatou on July 18.

Check out the full details of the 2021 Tour de France route here.

Race history

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) is the reigning champion, having overhauled his Slovenian compatriot Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) in the final time trial at last year's race. The 21-year-old became the race's second-youngest winner after Firmin Labot back in 1904.

Pogačar broke a Ineos/Sky stranglehold on the race, with the British team having won seven of the previous eight Tours de France with Egan Bernal, Geraint Thomas, Bradley Wiggins and four-time winner Chris Froome. Vincenzo Nibali, then riding for Astana, was the other man to break the British squad's dominance with a win in 2014.

The Tour wins record is currently held by four men, with Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil and Miguel Indurain all on five titles.

2020 was also the year which saw the rare occasion of Peter Sagan getting beaten in the battle for the green jersey. He lost out to Sam Bennett after a race-long battle, but still holds the all-time green jersey rankings with seven wins in nine participations. Erik Zabel's six jerseys lie second, ahead of Sean Kelly's four.

Pogačar is the reigning mountain classification champion, too, having won the yellow, polka dot and white jerseys in 2020. He broke a three-year French stranglehold on the jersey after wins for Romain Bardet, Julian Alaphilippe and Warren Barguil.

Richard Virenque holds the record for polka dot jersey wins at seven, and it won't be beaten anytime soon as Rafał Majka is the only current rider to have won more than one king of the mountains title, with two.

The contenders

PARIS FRANCE SEPTEMBER 20 Podium Primoz Roglic of Slovenia and Team Jumbo Visma with his son Levom 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 Michael SteeleGetty Images

Pogačar, Roglič and Richie Porte on the final podium in 2020 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Once again, Pogačar and Roglič will be the main favourites for the title. The two are among the strongest climbers in the peloton and are also world-leading time trialists, which could prove decisive with two tests against the clock lying in wait for the riders.

The pair have enjoyed stellar starts to 2020, with Pogačar taking wins at the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, while Roglič took three wins at PAris-Nice and the overall at Itzulia Basque Country.

The main challenge to the Slovenian duo should come from Ineos Grenadiers, who are led by 2018 winner Geraint Thomas and 2019 Giro d'Italia champion Richard Carapaz. The Welshman recently finished third at the Critérium du Dauphiné and looks best placed to challenge in both the mountains and time trials, while Carapaz is arguably the stronger climber.

Movistar's triumvirate will this year be headed up by new signing Miguel Ángel López, alongside Enric Mas and Alejandro Valverde. The Colombian looked in dominant form at the Mont Ventoux Dénivéle Challenge in June and will hope to improve on his sixth place in 2020.

His compatriot Nairo Quintana is a three-time podium finisher at the Tour and once again leads out Arkéa-Samsic. He won the Vuelta Asturias earlier this year but was off form at the Dauphiné.

Another Colombian to watch is EF Education-Nippo's Rigoberto Urán, who finished second in 2017 and has taken two top 10s since. His teammate and countryman Sergio Higuita could end up the team leader this year.

Elsewhere, look out for Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation), Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious), Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe), Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), and Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange). They're all likely to be in the top 10 GC battle, though fighting for the very top spots looks a little tougher.

Finally, the battle for sprint victories and the green jersey looks as wide open as ever, with Sagan and Bennett facing challenges from Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious), Tim Merlier and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Elia Viviani (Cofidis), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka Assos), Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), Cees Bol (Team DSM), Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), and more.


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