A double ascent of the iconic Mont Ventoux is among the highlights of the 2021 Tour de France, which was unveiled on Sunday evening (1 November).
After a climb-heavy route with only one (uphill) time trial in 2020, a more traditional-looking course was revealed by Tour organisers, with three summit finishes and two time trials in the race, which starts in Brest on Saturday 26 June.
In total there are 58km of time trialling, split between stages five and 20 – the most kilometres against the clock since 2013.
Mont Ventoux will be tackled twice on stage 11, while the race features summit finishes at Tignes, the Col du Portet and Luz-Ardiden.
2021 Tour de France route in numbers
- 8 flat stages
- 5 hilly stages
- 6 mountain stages
- 2 ascents of Mont Ventoux
- 3 summit finishes (Tignes, Saint-Lary-Soulan Col du Portet, Luz Ardiden)
- 2 individual time trials
- 58km of time trials
- 2 rest days
- 248km – longest stage since 2000 (stage eight, Vierzon to Le Creusot)
Brittany Grand Départ
In a change from the customary celebration of the race in front of assembled guests, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme presented the 2021 route on television.
While the race is not scheduled to start until next June, the ongoing global pandemic has already forced changes to the route – the planned Grand Départ in Copenhagen being pushed back to 2022.
The 2021 Tour de France will kick off in Brittany instead, with the first yellow jersey to be handed out after a 187km stage from Brest to Lenderneau.
The Brittany Grand Départ also means a finish up the Mur de Bretagne, which will be climbed twice at the end of stage two.
The final throes of the stage will be contested up the steep gradients of the hill’s final two kilometres.
La Course by Le Tour de France, the women’s one-day race, will tackle the same route, with Great Britain’s Lizzie Deignan the defending champion.
A sprint finish is expected in Pontivy on stage three, before the race ends its stay in Brittany with another bunch gallop anticipated in Fougeres.
Early time trial then into the Alps
The 27km time trial on stage five, from Change to Laval, will shake up the general classification – the longest time trial in the Tour’s first week since 2008.
Wind could be a factor on stage six, as the peloton races from Tours to Chateauroux, where Mark Cavendish won his first-ever Tour stage in 2008.
A monster 248km stage then features on stage seven – the longest at the Tour de France since 2000. The short but punishing climb of the Signal d’Uchon will test weary legs at the 230km mark, with a maximum slope of 18 per cent.
Finally, the Tour heads into Alps at the end of the first week. Stage eight tackles the Cote de Mont-Saxonnex (5.7km at 8.3 per cent), Col de Romme (8.8km at 8.9 per cent) and Col de la Colombiere (7.5km at 8.5 per cent) before a finish in Le Grand-Bornand.
The race’s first summit finish, at Tignes after a 21km climb with a 5.6 per cent average gradient, then concludes stage nine before the first rest day.
Double dose of Ventoux
A sprint in the Rhone Valley opens the second week, but the most anticipated stage of the race features the following day.
Mont Ventoux is on the route for the first time since Chris Froome was forced to run up the iconic mountain following a crash in 2016.
Stage 11 tackles the Giant of Provence first from Sault (24.3km at five per cent) before the classic route from Bedoin (15.7km at 8.8 per cent), en-route to a finish in Malaucene.
Stage finishes follow in Nimes and Carcassonne, before the race heads into the Pyrenees.
Andorra and summit finishes in the Pyrenees
Stage 14 finishes in Quillan, before the Tour route briefly leaves France, heading into Andorra for the highest summit of the 2021 race at the Port d’Envalira (2,408m).
The final week then ramps things up with back-to-back summit finishes on the Col du Portet (16km at 8.7 per cent) and Luz-Ardiden (13.3km at 7.4 per cent), on stages 17 and 18.
An expected sprint into Libourne calms things down slightly, before a final decisive 31km time trial from Libourne to Saint-Emilion.
Tadej Pogacar claimed the yellow jersey by winning the stage 20 time trial in 2020, while Tao Geoghegan Hart’s Giro d’Italia victory was sealed with a decisive time trial too.
And with only the largely ceremonial ride onto the Champs-Elysees still to come, the stage 20 time trial could decide who rides onto cycling’s most famous finish straight in yellow.
Tour de France 2021 route
- Saturday 26 June – stage one: Brest to Lenderneau (187km)
- Sunday 27 June – stage two: Perros-Guirec to Mur de Bretagne (182km)
- Monday 28 June – stage three: Lorient to Pontivy (182km)
- Tuesday 29 June – stage four: Redon to Fougeres (152km)
- Wednesday 30 June – stage five: Change to Laval (27km, individual time trial)
- Thursday 1 July – stage six: Tours to Chateauroux (144km)
- Friday 2 July – stage seven: Vierzon to Le Creusot (248km)
- Saturday 3 July – stage eight: Oyonnax to Le Grand Bornand (151km)
- Sunday 4 July – stage nine: Cluses to Tignes (145km, summit finish)
- Monday 5 July – rest day one
- Tuesday 6 July – stage ten: Albertville to Valence (186km)
- Wednesday 7 July – stage 11: Sorgues to Malaucene (199km)
- Thursday 8 July – stage 12: Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Nimes (161km)
- Friday 9 July – stage 13: Nimes to Carcassonne (220km)
- Saturday 10 July – stage 14: Carcassonne to Quillan (184km)
- Sunday 11 July – stage 15: Ceret to Andorra-La-Vieille (192km)
- Monday 12 July – rest day two
- Tuesday 13 July – stage 16: Pas de la Case to Saint-Gaudens (169km)
- Wednesday 14 July – stage 17: Muret to Col du Portet (178km, summit finish)
- Thursday 15 July – stage 18: Pau to Luz-Ardiden (130km, summit finish)
- Friday 16 July – stage 19: Mourenx to Libourne (203km)
- Saturday 17 July – stage 20: Libourne to Saint-Emilion (31km, individual time trial)
- Sunday 18 July – stage 21: Chatou to Paris, Champs-Elysees (112km)
When does the 2021 Tour de France start?
The 2021 edition of the Tour de France is scheduled to start in Brittany on Saturday 26 June, one week earlier than usual to accommodate the rearranged Tokyo Olympic Games.