Tour de France 2021 route: Grand Départ moves to Brittany with rumours of Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez stages

Here are the rumours of where the 2021 Tour de France will go

The 2021 Tour de France route will officially be revealed 0n October 29 2020, with the race expected to be back in it’s usual July slot in the calendar after the Covid-19 disruption of 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic pushed the 2020 edition back to late August into September, whereas in 2021 the race will likely be finishing before the Olympics time trial and road race taking place in Tokyo after that too was postponed.

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The route of the 108th edition is still set to start in the region of Brittany, in the port city of Brest. There will be four all-Brittany stages to kick off the Tour de France 2021, though full details of those stages are still not confirmed. This is after the rescheduling of the Danish Grand Départ that was meant to take place in 2021 but is now taking place in 2022.

The main reason for the change in Grand Départ location is due to the race being moved to avoid clashing with the Olympics. This made it difficult for Copenhagen that is due to hold knockout games for the postponed UEFA Euros football tournament at that time.

Tour de France 2021 route

The big rumours, as they are every year, suggest an ascent of Alpe d’Huez before the first rest day with a stage over Mont Ventoux expected as well. A summit finish on Ventoux is not on the cards with a possible descent down to the town of Malaucene at the base of the ‘Giant of Provence’.

Alpe d’Huez is a 13.8km climb that starts in the Romanche village of Le Bourg d’Oisans before climbing up to the ski resort at the top. Taking in 21 hairpin bends, an average gradient of 8.1 per cent, maxing out at 13 per cent.

The now-legendary climb first featured on the Tour in 1952 with the stage being taken by a legend of the sport, Fausto Coppi.

Since then, the climb has been used another 29 times in the Tour de France with two stages finishing on the climb in 1979 and two ascents in the one stage back in 2013. Geraint Thomas is the only British rider to have won on the climb when he powered to overall victory in 2018.

By contrast, Mont Ventoux has been used far less with just the 15 ascents of the ‘lonely mountain’ in the history of the Tour. With its first appearance in 1951 before descending to a stage finish.

Ventoux first appeared on the race’s route as a summit finish six year’s after Alpe d’Huez with the overall winner, Charly Gaul taking the stage win in a 21.5km individual time trial that started in the town of Bédoin at the base of the climb.

Alpe d’Huez could make it’s return at the 2021 Tour de France (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Not all of the history on the climb is positive though, as British cyclist, Tom Simpson, died of heat exhaustion and dehydration due to the speculated use of amphetamines and alcohol. There is a shrine to the rider close to the top.

A brief dip into Andorra is also a possibility in the 2021 Tour as it appears on the official clean map on the Tour de France website, suggesting it will be part of the race, possibly a summit finish up the Arcalis climb.

There are rumours of two or three summit finishes in the Pyrenees, with Luz Ardiden and Col de Portet suggested as the two most likely to feature in back-to-back stages in the final week.

Luz Ardiden has been used in the Tour eight times and twice in the Vuelta a España, with the most recent in the 2011 Tour where Samuel Sánchez took the stage and Thomas Voeckler wore yellow.

It isn’t one of the longest or hardest of climbs with it being 14.7km long, averaging 6.9 per cent and maxing out at 10 per cent with the start in the town of Luz-Saint-Sauveur. It was first used in 1985 with Pedro Delgado taking the win and Bernard Hinault in yellow.

Whereas, the Col de Portet has only been used once, back in 2018 when Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), then of Movistar, climbed to victory on an unusually short stage at just 65km with an unusual ‘grid’ start where riders lined up in order of their place in general classification, that start format has not been used since.

There will be more sprint stages than recent editions of the race with, if the rumoured routes are correct, 11 potential days for the fast men.

An old fashioned 50km time trial plus a 30km race against the clock are other possibilities to shake up the race in the first and final week.

The race will conclude with its traditional run into Paris and the Champs-Élysées.

Tour de France 2021 rumoured route

Stage Date Start Finish Distance Terrain
1 Brest Flat
5 50km ITT
9 Alpe d’Huez Mountains
Rest day
Rest day
21 Paris, Champs Elysées Flat