Preview: Your stage breakdown of the Tour de France course 2021
The Tour de France 2021 starts on Saturday, June 26th and runs until Sunday, July 18th. The 108th edition of the world's largest cycle race was scheduled to start in Copenhagen, Denmark, but this visit has been postponed to 2022 due to scheduling issues.
Instead, the tour will start in Brittany in 2021, in the far north-west of France. From there the race sweeps east-south-east across the country and reaches the Alps on stage 8.
After a few alpine stages, the riders swing southwest towards the Pyrenees and a short visit to the neighboring Principality of Andorra.
The race then heads north from southwest France before the traditional long-distance transfer to Paris for the final stage on the Champs-Élysées takes place.
Without further ado, here is a breakdown of each stage of the Tour de France 2021. It's the perfect companion as you prepare to see the tour … especially if you've signed up for our fantasy competition (more on that soon) .
Stage 1: Brest to Landerneau (198 km) | Saturday June 26th
There is no boring sprint stage to start this year's tour. Instead, we get a pretty lumpy day with four fourth category climbs and two third category climbs. The last of these is actually an ascent in the route: 3.1 km at 5.6% with a maximum gradient of 14%. It's not exactly the toughest climb in the world, but still a fascinating way to start the tour.
For whom is it suitable: Strong puncher who dream of wearing yellow.
What to look out for: There are many changes of direction on this stage and it can get windy in Brittany …
Stage 2: Perros-Guirec to Mûr-de-Bretagne (184 km) | Sunday June 27th
Another tough day! Just like stage 1, this stage includes four fourth category climbs and two third category climbs. And just like on the first stage, the last of these climbs leads the riders to the finish.
The last two climbs are both on the famous Mûr-de-Bretagne. Riders will reach the summit for the first time 17.5 km from the finish, then do a loop before reaching the climb again. From this approach, the Mûr-de-Bretagne is 2 km with 6.9%, but 10% for the first kilometer. From there it gets a little easier.
Note that there are time bonuses (eight, five and two seconds) on the first ascent of the Mûr-de-Bretagne above. Could this have an impact on the GC at the start of the race?
For whom is it suitable: Probably the puncher again, but expect some climbers and GC men in the mix.
What to look out for: The first 115 km are along the Atlantic coast, so it could be windy.
Stage 3: Lorient to Pontivy (183 km) | Monday June 28th
After two bumpy days, the sprinters get their chance to shine. There are two fourth category climbs that day, but a flat target should mean it's a regular sprint stage.
For whom is it suitable: The fastmen.
What to look out for: Three tight turns of 90º or sharper in the last 2.5 km, the last 1.5 km from the line and rather narrowing.
Stage 4: Redon to Fougères (150 km) | Tuesday June 29th
An even flatter day than stage 3, this one has no categorized climbs. That too will very likely end in a sprint, but race director Christian Prudhomme mentioned "windy conditions on the few unprotected heights" when describing this stage, so it could be fun.
For whom is it suitable: Again the sprinters.
What to look out for: Seasons? Also: what happens to yellow?
Stage 5: Changé to Laval ITT (27.2 km) | Wednesday June 30th June
The first of two individual time trials. This is the longest ITT in the first week the tour has had since 2008 (a tour that, by the way, also started in Brest).
There are a few small lumps in the course, but nothing that should keep the TTers' powerhouses from getting through their day. It's not a very technical course, but there are a number of turns in the final kilometers, including a U-turn with just over 2km to go and three sharp turns in the final 500 meters.
For whom is it suitable: TT specialists.
What to look out for: Yellow should change hands here. It's our first chance to see who looks strong among the GC contenders.
Stage 6: Tours to Châteauroux (161 km) | Thursday 1st July
A day for the sprinters. There's a fourth category climb along the way, but other than that, some lovely Renaissance castles might be the highlight for the first few miles. The last 1.5 km are dead straight.
For whom is it suitable: The sprinters.
What to look out for: Has a sprinter already proven to be dominant?
Stage 7: Vierzon to Le Creusot (249 km) | Friday July 2nd
Yes, 249km. This is the longest stage of the tour in 21 years. But this is not a pan-flat stage like these super long ones are. No, this stage through the Morvan Mountains comprises 3,000 meters in altitude with two climbs of the fourth category, two climbs of the third category and the first ascent of the second category of the tour.
This increase in the second category, the signal d’Uchon, reaches its climax 18 km from the finish and offers bonus seconds at the top. It's a bit of an odd climb: the first 3km are easy, downhill, then an average of more than 10% over the last 2km, with a maximum of 18%.
The final climb is a fourth category climb (2.4 km at 5.3%) that peaks 8 km from the finish. Nice launch pad?
For whom is it suitable: Probably the outlier?
What to look out for: Some possible action on the Signal d'Uchon, especially the steep part above.
Stage 8: Oyonnax to Le Grand-Bornand (151 km) | Saturday 3rd July
Stage 8 brings the first real taste of the mountains with it. After an ascent of the third and fourth categories, there is a series of three consecutive ascent of the first category, each time increasing in altitude.
These climbs (the first Cat 1s of the race) are the Côte de Mont-Sayonnex (5.7 km at 8.3%), the Col de Romme (8.8 km at 8.9%) and finally the Col de la Colombière (7.5 km at 8.5.). %). There are bonus seconds on top of the Colombière, after which it is mostly downhill to the destination, apart from a flat last 3 km or so.
For whom is it suitable: Probably for the outliers unless the GC teams feel like lighting it up.
What to look out for: All signs of weakness from the GC candidates.
Stage 9: Cluses to Tignes (145 km) | Sunday 4th July
The tour leads to Tignes, two years after a landslide failed the last attempt to complete a stage there. This phase is not very long, but it is tough. Two climbs of the second category, two climbs of the first category and the first HC ascent of the race combine on one stage with the first real mountain finish of the tour.
Well, technically it's not a summit destination – the final climb, the first category Montée de Tignes (21km at 5.6%) actually reaches 1.9km to go – but it's close enough. After that, the drivers have their first day of rest.
For whom is it suitable: The GC contenders.
What to look out for: This stage goes up to 2,100 m. Could the height be a factor? Advantage Colombians?
Stage 10: Albertville to Valence (191 km) | Tuesday July 6th
On the first stage after the first day of rest, the drivers are still in the Alps, but stay on the valley roads. There is an early ascent of the fourth category, but this is a day for the fastmen.
For whom is it suitable: Sprinter.
What to look out for: Shortly before 3 km there is a sharp right turn … exactly where GC drivers jostle with jacking trains to protect their GC time. That could be interesting. There is also a right turn just a few hundred meters from the finish.
Stage 11: Sorgues to Malaucène (199 km) | Wednesday July 7th
What's better than climbing Mont Ventoux? Ventoux twice! After two early climbs in the fourth category and one increase in the first category, the riders will tackle the “Giant of Provence” using two different approaches.
The first (cat. 1) is from the simpler Sault side, which is rarely used in the tour (22 km with 5.1%), while the second (HC) is the regular approach from Bédoin (15.7 km with 8.8%). This climb meets the Sault climb at Chalet Reynard, which means we can see the riders twice as they tackle the mythical lunar landscape near the summit.
But it doesn't go uphill – after the second conquest of Ventoux (there are bonus seconds at the top), the 22 km long descent to the finish in Malaucène is in front of the drivers.
For whom is it suitable: The GC men. Even if an outlier wins the day (unlikely?), This stage will have a significant impact on the overall standings.
What to look out for: Something always happens on the legendary Mont Ventoux. Chris Froome blows Nairo Quintana away in 2013, Froome runs up the mountain on a windless stage in 2016. What will happen this year That final descent could play a role …
Stage 12: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Nîmes (160 km) | Thursday July 8th
With a single climb to the third category on the menu, this should be a day for the sprinters. But in the words of Monsieur Prudhomme, the drivers "have to be particularly careful: the wind could be a key factor on wide roads and relays could occur".
The finish is very similar to that of 2019, when Caleb Ewan won stage 16 in a mass sprint. It should be a straight sprint finish: The last corner is more than a kilometer from the finish.
For whom is it suitable: Sprinter.
What to look out for: The possibility of relays.
Stage 13: Nîmes to Carcassonne (220 km) | Friday July 9th
At this point the race is approaching the Pyrenees. But before that, the sprinters get another chance. But here, too, Prudhomme seems to propose a different result: “Despite what the geography seems to suggest, a goal at the Carcassonne towers is never finished with a mass sprint. Good news for the brave! "
I admire his optimism, but that should be a lot of kick.
For whom is it suitable: Sprinter.
What to look out for: Aerial views of the magnificent Carcassonne Fort, just before the finish.
Stage 14: Carcassonne to Quillan (184 km) | Saturday July 10th
Off to the Pyrenees, albeit with a starter for the tougher stages ahead. For stage 14, there are two Cat 3s and three Cat 2s. The final climb is the Col de Saint-Louis of the second category, which is 4.7 km with 7.4% and reaches 17 km from the finish. There are bonus seconds at the top.
For whom is it suitable: That looks like a day for the outliers.
What to look out for: The spectacular Viaduc de l’Escargot (on the last climb).
Stage 15: Céret to Andorre-La-Vieille (191 km) | Sunday July 11th
A really tough stage in the Pyrenees that spends its last 50 km in Andorra. This stage offers three Cat 1s and one Cat 2 in one day, which compresses most of his climbing into its Andorran conclusion.
The penultimate climb is the tricky Cat 1 Port d’Envalira (10.7 km with 5.9%) – the highest point of the tour at 2,408 m above sea level. This is followed by the Col de Beixalis (6.4 km at 8.5%) with bonus seconds 15 km from the finish. From then on, it's all downhill. The second rest day follows this stage, so expect the drivers to hold back little.
For whom is it suitable: It can go either way. Could be an outlier if the GC contenders are happy with a group on the road.
What to look out for: The altitude could play a role up to 2,400 m.
Stage 16: Pas de la Case to Saint-Gaudens (169 km) | Tuesday July 13th
The riders will start on Andorran soil for the last week but will be back in France after the end of the neutral zone. This is a lumpy day with a fourth category promotion, two second category promotion, and one first category promotion. The final climb is the Cat 4 (800 m with 8.4%), which peaks 7 km from the line. The last 400 meters of the stage are uphill.
For whom is it suitable: The outlier.
What to look out for: This final climb looks like a great launch pad for someone on the breakaway who is still feeling fresh.
Stage 17: Muret to Col du Portet (178 km) | Wednesday July 14th
A day with two opposing halves in the Pyrenees. The first 120 km are mostly flat, then there are three solid climbs in succession.
First the Col de Peyresourde (13.2 km with 7% – Cat. 1), then the Col de Val Louron-Azet (7.4 km with 8.3% – Cat. 1) and finally the Col du Portet (16 km with 8.7% – HC). This will be a test day.
For whom is it suitable: GC men.
What to look out for: With just a few GC days left, who is running out of time to make a name for themselves?
Stage 18: Pau to Luz Ardiden (130 km) | Thursday 15th July
A short stage of only 130 km, but still a tough one. Sure, the first 75 km are easy enough, but like the day before, the action only takes place in the back half, this time in the form of two HC climbs. First the Col du Tourmalet (17.1 km with 7.3%) followed by a descent and then the ascent to the destination Luz Ardiden (13.3 km with 7.4%).
This is the last mountain stage of the race. There should be fireworks.
For whom is it suitable: The GC men again.
What to look out for: Is the tour now as good as decided? Or could the last time trial change something … again?
Stage 19: Mourenx to Libourne (207 km) | Friday July 16
After a few tough days in the mountains, the sprinters get their chance to shine again. There is an early climb in the fourth category and a few lumpy spots throughout the stage, but it's hard to see that goal in anything other than a mass sprint.
Getting to the destination in Libourne is very easy, but the last kilometer is very slightly uphill.
For whom is it suitable: The sprinters.
What to look out for: Who of the sprinters came out of the mountains on the Champs-lookinglysées in search of victory?
Stage 20: Libourne to Saint-Émilion ITT (30.8 km) | Saturday 17th July
The last chance for GC drivers to improve their overall ranking. The second and final ITT of the race is not particularly tough. It's basically flat and there aren't any particularly technical details that make things tricky.
For whom is it suitable: The Power-TTer.
What to look out for: The GC contenders. Who could forget last year's 20 ITT stage?
Stage 21: Chatou to Paris Champs-Élysées (108 km) | Sunday July 18th
After a six-hour transfer from Saint-Emilion, the drivers embark on the traditional final procession into the heart of Paris. It gets hot on the cobblestones of the Champs-Élysées, however, where the Fastmen fight for one of the biggest prizes a sprinter can win: a stage win on the last stage of the Tour de France.
For whom is it suitable: Sprinter.
What to look out for: The eventual GC winner and his teammates sip champagne as they slowly roll towards Paris.
If you are unable to see every leg of the tour, we believe that we should prioritize the following:
- Level 2: Mûr-de-Bretagne's finish could be great.
- Level 9: The first real climb on the tour.
- Level 11: Double Ventoux Day!
- Level 15: A great day of climbing at great heights.
- Level 17: Three tough climbs and one uphill goal.
- Level 18: Another big uphill finish.
- Level 20: The last time trial.