The 2021 Tour de France will feature four stages in Brittany to begin the race as well as two time trials, a double ascent of Mont Ventoux, and a visit to Andorra during the race.
The 108th edition of the Tour starts on June 26 in Brest in Brittany and stay in the region for four days before heading down through the centre of the country and reaching the Alps for the first set of mountain stages at the end of the first week of racing.
The Tour will then transition towards the Pyrenees through the south, stopping off at the legendary Mont Ventoux along the way, where riders will take on two sides of the mountain before a downhill finish. Riders will first tackle the climb from Sault, 22km long at 5.1 per cent average gradient, before the classic, tougher route up from Bedoin, 15.7km at 8.8 per cent, then descending down into the finish at Malaucène.
The riders will then face some gruelling stages in the Pyrenees and hop over the border into Andorra, where the race spends its second rest day. There are some old familiar climbs, including the Col du Tourmalet along the way, as well as some newer climbs with the second-ever inclusion of the Col de Portet following its introduction in 2018, a day won by Geraint Thomas.
The race then takes on its second time trial on the penultimate day of racing, a final test for the GC contenders, with organisers perhaps hoping for another dramatic final day showdown as we saw in this year’s edition when Primož Roglič lost the yellow jersey to Tadej Pogačar.
The race will conclude with its traditional run into Paris and the sprint finish on the Champs-Élysées on July 18.
Tour de France 2021 route
|2||June 27||Perros-Guirec||Mûr-de-Bretagne Guerlédan||183.5km||Hill-top finish|
|7||July 2||Vierzon||La Creusot||249.1km||Hill-top finish|
|8||July 3||Oyonnax||Le Grand Bornard||150.8km||Mountains|
|9||July 4||Cluses||Tignes||144.9km||Summit finish|
|Rest day||July 5||Tignes|
|14||July 10||Carcassone||Quillan||183.7km||Medium mountains|
|Rest day||July 12||Andorra|
|16||July 13||Pas de la Case||Saint-Gaudens||169km||Medium mountains|
|17||July 14||Muret||Col du Portet||178.4km||Summit finish|
|18||July 15||Pau||Luz Ardiden||129.7km||Summit finish|
|20||July 17||Libourne||Saint Emilion||30.8km||ITT|
|21||July 18||Chatou||Paris, Champs Élysées||108.4km||Flat|
Tour de France 2021 stages
Stage one: June 26, Brest to Landerneau, 197.8km
The first stage of the 2021 Tour de France has a sting in its tail with a finish to the top of the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups (3km at 5.7 per cent) which will see the puncheurs or the versatile sprinters have a chance at the first maillot jaune of the race. Deceuninck - Quick-Step's Julian Alaphilippe says he's dreaming of winning a Tour stage in the rainbow jersey, and the opening two days in Brittany almost seem tailor-made for the Frenchman.
Stage two: June 27, Perros-Guirec to Mûr-de-Bretagne Guerlédan, 183.5km
Stage two will welcome back the Mûr-de-Bretagne at the finish, the steep climb known as the 'Alpe d'Huez of Brittany'. It will certainly suit the climbers with a fast kick, which is why Dan Martin was the last winner here in 2018. The riders will climb it twice, finishing at the top the second time up in another day that will suit the punchier riders in the peloton.
Stage three: June 28, Lorient to Pontivy, 182.9km
The sprinters will have their first real opportunity on the penultimate stage in Brittany which features a flat parcours from Lortient to Pontivy. Last year's green jersey winner Sam Bennett will be one of the favourites, as will Caleb Ewan, as Frenchman Arnaud Démare will provide stiff competition, and the more versatile sprinters, Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert and Peter Sagan will all be vying for the win.
Stage four: June 29, Redon to Fougères, 150.4km
The fourth and final stage in Brittany will once again be a flat run that should suit the sprinters. Mark Cavendish was the last winner when the race finished in Fougères in 2015. The Manxman was rumoured to be a possible last-minute inclusion for Deceuninck - Quick-Step before Bennett's fitness was confirmed. For the sprinters beaten on stage three, the pressure will already be on the very next day to turn their fortune around.
Stage five: June 30, Changé to Laval, 27.2km (ITT)
The race's first of two individual time trials should see the first real shake-up in GC with a fairly long 27.2km against the clock.
Geraint Thomas has welcomed the increase in flat time trial kilometres, where he says he'll be looking to gain time over the smaller climbers.
Primož Roglič will be looking to rectify his stage 20 TT performance from last year's Tour, where Tadej Pogačar overhauled his GC lead on La Planche des Belles Filles, but the elder Slovenian should have the upper hand on this course, right?
Stage six: July 1, Tours to Chateuxroux, 160.6km
After the individual time trial the sprinters will be back to the fore with a visit to Chateauxroux for the stage finish.
Caleb Ewan's aim for the season is to win a stage at each Grand Tour, and if he hasn't won already or doesn't manage it today, it'll be a long wait until stage 10 for his next opportunity.
Stage seven: July 2, Vierzon to La Creusot, 249.1km
Stage seven is the longest stage of the 2021 Tour and the longest distance of any Tour stage in 21 years. If the 249.5km distance isn't enough of a test for all the riders, the 3,000m of elevation gain and the finish up the Signal d'Uchon (5.7km at 5.7 per cent) on the stage surely will be.
With a few tough days in the mountains coming up, today could be the first opportunity for a breakaway to contest the win - Thomas De Gendt time perhaps?
Stage eight: July 3, Oyonnax to Le Grand Bornard, 151km
The race hits it's first proper mountain day on stage eight with a finish to Le Grand Bornard. This will be the third appearance of the finish which comes after the final climb of the Col de la Colombiere (7.5km at 8.5 per cent), with Julian Alaphilippe the last winner here in 2018.
Stage nine: July 4, Cluses to Tignes, 145km
The riders take on the first summit finish of the Tour to Tignes, which features this year following the stage cancellation in 2019 because of landslides. With the four categorised climbs before the climb to Tignes, it'll be an attritional war over the 21.6km climb which doesn't boast huge gradients at an average of 5.6 per cent.
Rest day: Tignes
Stage 10: July 6, Albertville to Valence, 190.7km
The Tour de France leaves its brief stay in the Alps with a ride from Albertville to Valence for a likely sprint finish. It'll be a welcome introduction back to racing following the rest day with what's to follow on stage 11.
Stage 11: July 7, Sorgues to Malaucène, 199km
The legendary Mont Ventoux, the scene of so many classic Tour de France battles, returns to the race for the first time since 2016. There's no summit finish here this year however, but there is the tantalising prospect of two ascents of the Giant of Provence, one approaching from the town of Sault (24.3km at five per cent) and the second on the harder and traditional approach from Bedoin (15.7km at 8.8 per cent). The race will then finish in the town of Malaucene after a descent down the third road of Mont Ventoux.
Will we see attacks or will the GC contenders ride conservatively? We're not used to seeing a large group of the best guys go over the summit of Ventoux, but with two ascents the potential risk could outweigh the reward.
Stage 12: July 8, Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Nîmes, 159.4km
A bunch sprint is expected in Nîmes as the race begins its transition from Ventoux to the Pyrenees, a reward to the sprinters for hauling themselves over Ventoux not just once, but twice.
Stage 13: July 9, Nîmes to Carcassone, 219.9km
The race picks up where it finished on stage 13 with another sprint finish expected to Carcassone after a long 220km southward, another carrot for the sprinters before the Pyrenees, after this only stage 19 and 21 remain for them.
Stage 14: July 10, Carcassone to Quillan, 184km
Stage 14 will be the first introduction into the Pyrenees for the riders with three categorised climbs en route to Quillan. The climbs may not be the huge summits of the Pyrenees proper, but they'll provide a launchpad for attacks and perhaps a chance for the breakaway to succeed.
Stage 15: July 11, Céret to Andorre-La-Vieille, 191.3km
The race leaves France for the only time into the principality of Andorra where there'll be four categorised climbs to take on before a downhill run to the finish in Andorre-La-Vieille. The Port d'Envillara (10.7km at 6.2 per cent) climb along the way will be the Souvenir Henri Desgrange (the race's highest point) at 2,408m in altitude. The race last visited Andorra in 2016 when Tom Dumoulin won to Andorra Arcalis.
Rest day: Andorra
Stage 16: July 13, Pas de la Case to Saint-Gaudens, 169km
After the second rest day we're unlikely to see a battle for yellow break out with the stage and climbs more likely to provide a chance for the breakaway to succeed. The GC contenders will look towards the following mountains in the Pyrenees to make a real difference.
Stage 17: July 14, Muret to Col du Portet, 178.4km
Stage 17 has a striking similarity to 2018's 65km stage that began with a grid start. Significantly longer, the route still takes on the Col de Peyresourde (13.2km at seven per cent) and the Col de Val Louren-Azet (7.4km at 8.3 per cent) before a finish to the top of the Col du Portet (16km at 8.7 per cent), the second use of this climb in Tour history.
Stage 18: July 15, Pau to Luz Ardiden, 127.7km
There's no rest for the peloton on stage 18 as the race takes on the Col du Tourmalet (17.1km at 7.3 per cent), the most used climb in Tour history, before a finish to Luz Ardiden (13.3km at 7.4 per cent) for the first time since 2011.
Stage 19: July 16, Mourenx to Libourne, 207km
As we leave the Pyrenees the sprinters will get one final chance before Paris to take a priceless victory, while the GC contenders will hope to recover ahead of the last big test of the race on stage 20.
Stage 20: July 17, Libourne to Saint Emilion, 30.8km (ITT)
Potentially hoping for a repeat of 2020's thrilling finale in the stage 20 time trial to Plance des Belles Filles, the 2021 Tour will once again finish it's racing in earnest with an effort against the clock.
This time there's no massive climb at the end of the course, but at 30.8km there's more than enough distance for someone to leapfrog into the yellow jersey at the last opportunity.
Stage 21: July 18, Chatou to Paris, Champs-Élysées, 108.4km
The race concludes with it's traditional procession into Paris before a final bunch sprint on the Champs-Élysées.
Richard began working with Cycling Weekly in 2013 alongside the then web editor, Nigel Wynn. Taking over as digital editor or Cycling Weekly and mbr in 2014, Richard coordinates site content and strategy with the team.
Omnium: What is the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Omnium and how does it work?
Get to know the Omnium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
By Tim Bonville-Ginn •
Hope's secret Olympic time trial bike didn't go to Tokyo but it will go into production next year
Cycling Weekly gets an exclusive look at the first prototype of the roadgoing Team GB Olympic track bike
By Simon Smythe •
How do the Tokyo 2020 Olympic time trials work?
The race against the clock is a highlight of the games, but what are the rules?
By Alex Ballinger •
Mark Cavendish joint favourite to win Sports Personality of the Year
The British sprinter made a historic comeback at the 2021 Tour de France
By Alex Ballinger •
'It’s been a nice run, but it’s time': Richie Porte says 2021 edition was his final Tour de France
The Australian leads his national team into the Olympic Games road race on Saturday
By Richard Windsor •
Mark Cavendish beats Tim Merlier to sprint victory in post-Tour de France crit
The British sprinter was on the podium again in the lucrative exhibition race in Flanders
By Alex Ballinger •
From Dulwich Park to Paris: The story of Fred Wright's debut Tour de France
The 22-year-old Brit, 'a child of the Herne Hill community', was the youngest rider in this year's race
By Jonny Long •
Health issues could force Dave Brailsford to step down as Ineos Grenadiers boss
The 57-year-old has been treated for cancer and heart issues over the past couple of years
By Jonny Long •
How much prize money did Tadej Pogačar get for winning the Tour de France?
There was around €2.3 million up for grabs in this year's race
By Tim Bonville-Ginn •
Mark Cavendish rues leaving Mørkøv's wheel on Champs-Élysées, but will he ride another Tour de France?
Cavendish remains on 34 wins but is all smiles as he wins green jersey in incredible comeback
By Jonny Long •