A double ascent of the iconic Mont Ventoux is among the highlights of this year’s Tour de France, which starts in Brest on Saturday 26 June
After a climb-heavy route with only one (uphill) time trial in 2020, a more traditional-looking course was revealed by Tour organisers for 2021, with three summit finishes and two time trials in the race.
In total there is 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, 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.
The pandemic has meant the planned Grand Départ in Copenhagen has been pushed back to 2022.
The 2021 Tour de France will instead kick off in Brittany, with the first yellow jersey to be handed out after a 198km stage from Brest to Landerneau.
The Brittany Grand Départ also means a finish up the Mur de Bretagne on stage two, where it will be climbed twice. 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 Fougères.
Early time trial then into the Alps
The 27km time trial on stage five, from Changé to Laval, should 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 Châteauroux, where Mark Cavendish won his first-ever Tour stage in 2008.
A monster 249km 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 Côte de Mont-Saxonnex (5.7km at 8.3 per cent), Col de Romme (8.8km at 8.9 per cent) and Col de la Colombière (7.5km at 8.5 per cent) before a finish in Le Grand-Bornand.
The race’s first summit finish is on stage nine at Tignes after a 21km climb with a 5.6 per cent average gradient, 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 (22km at 5.1 per cent) before the classic route from Bedoin (15.7km at 8.8 per cent), en-route to a finish in Malaucène.
Stage finishes follow in Nîmes 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.
And, with only the largely ceremonial ride onto the Champs-Élysées to come, the stage 20 time trial could decide who rides onto cycling’s most famous finish straight into yellow.
Tour de France 2021 route
- Saturday 26 June – stage one: Brest to Landerneau (198km)
- Sunday 27 June – stage two: Perros-Guirec to Mûr-de-Bretagne (183km)
- Monday 28 June – stage three: Lorient to Pontivy (183km)
- Tuesday 29 June – stage four: Redon to Fougères (150km)
- Wednesday 30 June – stage five: Changé to Laval Espace Mayenne (27km, individual time trial)
- Thursday 1 July – stage six: Tours to Châteauroux (161km)
- Friday 2 July – stage seven: Vierzon to Le Creusot (249km)
- 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 (191km)
- Wednesday 7 July – stage 11: Sorgues to Malaucène (199km)
- Thursday 8 July – stage 12: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Nîmes (159km)
- Friday 9 July – stage 13: Nîmes to Carcassonne (220km)
- Saturday 10 July – stage 14: Carcassonne to Quillan (184km)
- Sunday 11 July – stage 15: Céret to Andorre-La-Vieille (191km)
- 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 (207km)
- Saturday 17 July – stage 20: Libourne to Saint-Emilion (31km, individual time trial)
- Sunday 18 July – stage 21: Chatou to Paris, Champs-Élysées (108km)
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.