- ALREADY SUBSCRIBED?
Fill in your credentials below.
“The greatest battle is not physical but psychological. The demons telling us to give up when we push ourselves to the limit can never be silenced for good. They must always be answered by the quiet steady dignity that simply refuses to give in. Courage.”
— Graeme Fife, author of The History, the Legend, the Riders (Mainstream Publishing)
The 108th Tour de France starts on Saturday, the 26th of June from Brest, the maritime port in Brittany. As explained by Christian Prudhomme, TDF Director since 2007, the race was originally planned to start in Copenhagen, diverted because of the pandemic. Fingers crossed, Denmark will host the Grand Départ in 2022. There’s serious prize money waiting (think €2 million+). The winner takes home €500,000+ – he earns it!
The first Tour in 1903 was the concept of two sporting journalists, George Lefevre and Henri Desgranges, battling to increase circulation of their publication L’Auto – today’s daily sporting bible – L’Equipe. Apparently the Yellow jersey recalls that L’Auto was printed on yellow paper! Who knew?
The four jerseys proudly worn by race leaders are: the iconic yellow; green, based on points awarded at intermediate sprints and finishes; the macho red polka dot “king of the mountain”; and white for best young rider under 25.
However, the prestigious prize has to be sporting the Maillot Jaune, the Yellow Jersey, in Paris on the last day of the race! Of the 23 squads expected to participate, will Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates), last year’s 21-year-old wonder wheeler, keep his crown/jersey or perhaps his compatriot Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma), last year’s runner-up, will finish in victory?
Also watch Londoner Tao Geoghegan Hart, Egan Bernal (2019 winner) and the Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Chris Froome riding for Israel Start Up Nation, Mark Cavendish competing for the first time since 2018, and Julian Alaphillipe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Nairo Quintana (Arkéa Samsic), Miguel Angel Lopez and Enric Mas (Movistar), Mark Padun (Bahrain Victorious)… the cycling dream team…
What to expect from the 21 stages:
The 2021 Tour de France starts as it means to go on – tough. Stage 1 has a hilltop finish near Landerneau and Stage 2 ends at the Mûr de Bretagne, which made its first Tour de France appearance in 2011 with a Cadel Evans victory.
Both stage 3 and stage 4 are likely to see bunch sprints before Stage 5 provides the first real test for General Classification contenders: a 27.2 kilometer ITT (individual time trial) on undulating terrain.
La Grande Boucle takes in the Alps for the second weekend. Stage 8 goes to Le Grand Bornand ski resort and Stage 9 finishes at the top of Tignes where the 2019 Tour de France would have finished, but avalanches in Val d’Isère put a stop to that!
Stage 10 peddles on scenically from Albertville to Valence, host of the Tour de France twice. On both occasions the fast men had it their way – André Greipel (Israel Start Up) in 2015, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in 2018 with Sagan predicted to come through this year. We’ll see.
The Stage 11 hails the most anticipated ride of the 2021 Tour – the route takes in a double climb of Mont Ventoux, “The Beast of Provence,” without finishing at the top; that would be too easy! Instead, the stage finishes in Malaucène, a picture postcard Provençal village, at the foot of the storied mountain.
Following Stage 12 there’s a flat course into Nîmes – the race then heads over to the Pyrenees, but, without entering the mountain range – just yet. Stage 13 ends in Carcassonne, and Stage 14 traverses the lumpy foothills of the Pyrenees finishing in Quillan. Then Stage 15 takes in four intermediate climbs before a downhill finish into Andorra la Vella. Phew!
The first day of the final week, Stage 16 involves three huge climbs before a virtually flat finale, while Stage 17 is the opposite when Pyrenean climbing’s packed inside the last 65 kilometers. After the Col de Peyresourde and Col d’Azet-Val Louron, the riders tackle the brutal Col du Portet, which is a 16-kilometer climb.
The final mountainous test of the 2021 Tour de France, Stage 18 takes in the Col du Tourmalet to finish uphill at the Luz-Ardiden ski resort.
Stage 19 travels north on flat to undulating terrain – before the final General Classification battle comes in the form of a second time trial. Stage 20 showcases the vineyards of the Bordeaux Saint Emilion region- wonderful scenery. And 21’s the fabulous, traditional, sprint to Paris from Chatou on the northwest side of the River Seine – welcome to the Île de France – celebrating all the way with champagne. The exciting finish attacks the cobblestones as the squads cycle around the city six-eight times from the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysées, Place de la Concorde, Tuileries, past the Louvre….oh la la!
The 1965 Tour de France was filmed by Claude Lelouch. Pour Un Maillot Jaune, the 30-minute documentary, has no commentary – just the sight and sounds of the Tour. Sponsors include Vittel, Eredis, Tissot, Shimano, Lesieur, Senseo, FDJ, Yamaha, Puget, Haribo, Le Parisien, France Info, France Bleu, LCL, E.Leclerc, Krys, Le Coq Sportif, Century 21 etc.
Follow the dream machines:
- 26 June Stage 1 – Brest-Landernau (198km)
- 27 June Stage 2 – Perros-Guirec – Mûr-de-Bretagne Guerlédan (183.5km, hilly)
- 28 June Stage 3: Lorient – Pontivy (182.7km, flat)
- 29 June Stage 4: Redon – Fougères (150.4km, flat)
- 30 June Stage 5: Changé – Laval (27.2km, ITT)
- 1 July Stage 6: Tours – Châteauroux (160.6km, flat)
- 2 July Stage 7: Vierzon – Le Creusot (249.1km, hilly)
- 3 July Stage 8: Oyonnax – Le Gran-Bornand (150.8km, mountains)
- 4 July Stage 9: Cluses – Tignes (144.9km, mountains)
- 5 July, first rest day
- 6 July, Stage 10: Albertville – Valence (190.7km, flat)
- 7 July, Stage 11: Sorgues – Malaucène (198.9km, mountains)
- 8 July, Stage 12: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux – Nîmes (159.4km, flat)
- 9 July, Stage 13: Nîmes – Carcassonne (219.9km, flat)
- 10 July Stage 14: Carcassonne – Quillan (183.7km, hilly)
- 11 July Stage 15: Céret – Andorra la Vella (191.3km, mountains)
- 12 July second rest day
- 13 July Stage 16: Pas de la Case – Saint-Gaudens (169km, mountains)
- 14 July Stage 17: Muret – Saint-Lary-Soulan Col du Portet (174.8km)
- 15 July Stage 18: Pau – Luz-Ardiden (129.7km, mountains)
- 16 July Stage 19: Mourenx – Libourne (207km, flat)
- 17 July Stage 20: Libourne – Saint-Émilion (30.8km, ITT)
- 18 July Stage 21: Chatou – Paris Champs-Élysées (112km, flat)
Buy the Merch here.
The Tour de France runs from 26th June- 18th July, 2021. Follow the official website here.
And coming up in 2022: Tour de France Women!
Lead photo credit : Tour de France. Photo: charel.irrthum/ Flickr