Tour de France

Tour de France coverage from Cycling Weekly, with up to date race results, rider profiles and news and reports.

Tadej Pogačar at the top of the Tour de France 2020 podium
(Image credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Dates: June 26 to July 18 2021
Stages: 21
Length: 3,383 km
Grand Départ: Brest, France
Finish:
Paris, France
TV coverage (UK):
Eurosport, GCN+, ITV4

Key info: Tour de France 2021 route | Tour de France start list | How to watch the Tour de France | Past winnersJerseys | Key climbs

Tour de France 2021

The Tour de France in 2021 will be starting with its Grand Départ in the Brittany region, with the opening stage beginning in Brest before winding its way around the Celtic region.

The 2021 race is very nearly back in its usual calendar slot, though has been scheduled to start a couple of weeks earlier this year due to the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games, with the organiser keen on the two events not clashing.

Unlike other editions of the race, the 108th running of the Tour will not begin with a time trial or a few flat stages. The organiser of the race, ASO, has chosen to use the tricky terrain of the Bretagne landscape to test the riders early on.

The opening two days on the bike have lots of tricky, short, and steep climbs with stage two the focus of this, as the riders will have to tackle the famous Mûr de Bretagne twice.

After that, the race will start its journey down towards the mountains, but stop off on stage five for the first of the two individual time trials. A 27.2km course from Changé to Laval will, if it hasn't been already, really shake up the GC and show us who are the early frontrunners for the title.

The 2021 Tour de France route

The 2021 Tour de France route

After the time trial, the 2021 Tour de France will head across the country on long transition days that have become synonymous with the first week of the Tour de France.

It then heads straight into the Alps after missing out the Vosges mountain range. The race doesn't stick around in the giant peaks of the Alps for long and is only there for three days, with just two finishes in the mountains there.

When the peloton leaves the Alps, it will head into Provence, but that doesn't mean that the 2021 Tour de France has left the climbing behind as the race heads to the 'Giant of Provence', Mont Ventoux. 

To add yet more horror to an already daunting task, the peloton will have the climb the lonely mountain twice on stage 11 before descending to a finish in Malaucène.

Another classic long transfer stage from Nîmes to Carcassonne will then bring the race to the third mountainous area of the race, with the Pyrenees beckoning. This includes five days in the mountains and the highest peak of the race when they make a trip into Andorra.

There's also a ride up and down the Col du Tourmalet before heading to the ski resort of Luz Ardiden for the final day of racing in the mountains.

Then it's one more flat day that will likely be a stage for the breakaway or sprinters if they and their teams have survived the mountains. The competitive race for the GC then concludes with a huge time trial on stage 20. Riders face a 30.8km test against the clock from Libourne to Saint Emilion to decide the outcome of the race.

The 2021 Tour de France will then head to its traditional conclusion on the city cobbles of the Champs-Élysées in Paris to bring the race to a close.

In the 2021 Tour de France, there are six mountain stages that include three summit finishes, five hilly stages, eight flat days, and two tests against the clock in the time trial. This brings to total kilometres to ride to 3,383km.

Tour de France 2021 classifications

Tadej Pogačar and Sam Bennett on the podium at the Tour de France 2020 (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Tadej Pogačar and Sam Bennett on the podium at the Tour de France 2020 (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Much like every year in recent memory, the jerseys and classifications are the yellow jersey for the overall leader, green jersey for the leader in the points standings, polka-dot jersey for the mountain classification, and the white jersey for the best young rider.

Along with the jersey prizes, there is the prize for the most combative rider of each stage with the winner wearing a red number on the following day. This is awarded each day with a Super Combativity award decided by a jury at the end of the race for the most active rider throughout the entire event.

There is also a team classification where the time of the first three riders from each team is put together to create a single time, it is then done in a similar way as the individual general classification.

Plus, there are plenty of bonus seconds up for grabs at the race with 10, six and four bonus seconds available at the end of each stage for the first three riders as well as bonus sprints that are dotted throughout the race on key climbs to try and spice up the racing.

Tour de France 2021 teams

Every one of the 19 2021 WorldTour teams will be riding the Tour de France along with French Pro Continental teams Arkéa-Samsic, Team TotalEnergies and B&B Hotels-Vital Concept.

They are joined by the Belgian squad, Alpecin-Fenix, who won a place on all WorldTour races after finishing top of the Pro Continental standings in 2020. 

This means that we will get to see the likes of Mathieu van der Poel and Tim Merlier at the Tour de France for the first time. Merlier has already proven his Grand Tour credentials with a stage win at this year's Giro d'Italia, but we are yet to see Van der Poel at a Grand Tour.

Tour de France 2021 general classification riders

Reigning champion Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) will be on the start line in Brest along with second place in last year's race and fellow Slovenian, Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).

Both have hardly raced this season with Roglič not being at a race since Liège-Bastogen-Liège whereas Pogačar has raced recently for the first time since Liège, which he won, with an appearance at the Tour of Slovenia, which he also won.

It is clear that the only team likely to challenge the Slovenian riders is Ineos Grenadiers as they bring a superbly strong team that seems to cover all eventualities.

Their main focus will be British rider and former Tour winner Geraint Thomas, with 2019 Giro d'Italia winner Richard Carapaz the co-leader. This year's Critérium du Dauphiné winner Richie Porte is also in the team as is 2020 Giro winner, Tao Geoghegan Hart, giving the British squad multiple options depending on form and what happens on the road.

There is a multitude of other riders who could potentially challenge with Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), Miguel Ángel López (Movistar), Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation), Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo), and many more besides.

Chris Froome is in the Israel Start-Up Nation team but he is not going as leader. That title goes to Woods, but the four-time winner Froome is going to the race as the team's road captain as they seek to use his experience in the race.

Tour de France 2021 sprinters

Sam Bennett leading the sprint on stage 21 of the Tour de France 2020

Sprint finish at stage seven of 2019 Tour de France (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) will once again come to the Tour de France to try and extend his record of most green jersey wins to eight after failing to do so last year when he was denied by Irishman Sam Bennett (Deceuninck - Quick-Step). Bennett should return to the race this year despite struggling with injury in the build-up.

One rider who is expected to take at least one win is the dominuative Australian sprinter, Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) who won twice at the Giro in May. His big goal for 2021 is to win at least one stage at every Grand Tour and become only the fourth rider ever to do so in the same year.

A rider who, if allowed more freedom, could be a huge danger for the green jersey is Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), but the Belgian star has not raced since the Amstel Gold Race back in April, so it is unknown where his form will be.

Alpecin-Fenix has two huge stars in the sprint with Tim Merlier and Mathieu Van der Poel both making their Tour debuts. Merlier is riding his second Grand Tour of the season having started the Giro d'Italia where he won a stage.

Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious), Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and Iván García (Movistar) are just a few other names expected to be riding.

Tour de France 2021 on TV

If you are in the UK then you will be able to watch every stage live from start to finish on Eurosport, ITV and S4C with each offering highlights too. There will be uninterrupted coverage on Eurosport Player online and on the GCN+ app.

Tour de France 2021 route

For more information on the 2021 Tour de France route, head to our route page where you can find all the race profiles and in-depth descriptions.

StageDateStartFinishDistanceTerrain
1Sat June 26BrestLanderneau197.8kmHilly
2Sun June 27Perros-GuirecMûr-de-Bretagne Guerlédan183.5kmHilly
3Mon June 28LorientPontivy183.9kmFlat
4Tues June 29RedonFougères150.4kmFlat
5Weds June 30ChangéLaval Espace Mayenne27.2kmTime Trial
6Thurs July 1ToursChâteauroux160.6kmFlat
7Fri July 2VierzonLe Creusot249.1kmHilly
8Sat July 3OyonnaxLe Grand Bornand150.8kmMountain
9Sun July 4ClusesTignes144.9kmMountain
Rest dayMon July 5Tignes
10Tues July 6AlbertvilleValence190.7kmFlat
11Weds July 7SorguesMalaucène198.9kmMountain
12Thurs July 8Saint-Paul-Trois-ChâteauxNîmes159.4kmFlat
13Fri July 9NîmesCarcassonne219.9kmFlat
14Sat July 10CarcassonneQuillan183.7kmHilly
15Sun July 11CéretAndorra-la-Vella191.3kmMountain
Rest dayMon July 12Andorra
16Tues July 13Pas de la CaseSaint-Gaudens169kmHilly
17Weds July 14MuretSaint-Lary-Soulan Col du Portet178.4kmMountain
18Thurs July 15PauLuz Ardiden129.7kmMountain
19Fri July 16MourenxLibourne207kmFlat
20Sat July 17LibourneSaint-Emilion30.8kmTime trial
21Sun July 18ChatouParis (Champs-Élysées)108.4kmFlat

Tour de France past winners in the last 10 years

2010: Andy Schleck (Lux)
2011: Cadel Evans (Aus)
2012: Bradley Wiggins (GBr)
2013: Chris Froome (GBr)
2014: Vincenzo Nibali (Ita)
2015: Chris Froome (GBr)
2016: Chris Froome (GBr)
2017: Chris Froome (GBr)
2018: Geraint Thomas (GBr)
2019: Egan Bernal (Col)
2020: Tadej Pogačar (Slo)

How does the Tour de France work?

The Tour de France is one of three races that are three weeks long, known as the Grand Tours, alongside the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España. The Tour is the best known and arguably the most prestigious.

It is the second of the three races in the calendar with the Giro taking place in May, the Tour usually in July, and the Vuelta in August and September.

The Tour, like all Grand Tours, takes on varying terrain with flat days for sprinters, hilly days for punchers and mountains for the climbers and GC riders, along with time trials, so that a winner of the race has to be able to perform on all types of road.

The main prize in the race, known as the general classification, is based on time with the overall leader wearing the yellow jersey. The race leader and eventual winner is the rider who has the lowest accumulated time over the 21 days of racing. Riders can win the Tour de France without winning a stage, as Chris Froome did in 2017. Time bonuses of 10, six, and four seconds are given to stage winners though, creating incentive for those general classification riders to chase individual victories and lower their overall time.

In 2020 it took race winner Tadej Pogačar 87-20-05 to complete the race with the second-place rider overall 59 seconds slower. That continues all the way down to the last place rider, which was Roger Kluge (Lotto-Soudal) who finished over six hours behind at a time of 6-07-02.

The white best young rider's jersey is worked out in the same way but only riders under the age of 26 are eligible for the jersey.

The polka-dot mountains jersey and the green points jersey are based on a points system and not time. The only reason time would come into account would be if riders are tied on points, then it would go to who is the best placed in the general classification.

The team classification is based on the general classification times of the first three riders of a team on each stage. The time of those three riders is added up and put onto their team's time, creating a GC list much like in the individual classifications. The leading team get to wear yellow numbers and helmets on each stage.

The final classification available is the combativity prize. This is decided by a race jury or, in more recent years, Twitter. This takes place just before the end of each stage and often goes to a rider from the breakaway who has put in a daring performance or attempted to liven up the stage by attacking. The winner of the combativity award gets to wear a special red race number on the following day's stage.

There is a final prize added to this with the Super Combativity prize being awarded on the podium in Paris. This is decided in a similar fashion to pick out the most aggressive, entertaining, and daring rider of the whole three weeks. Again, usually going to a rider who has featured regularly in the breakaway.

Stage winners do not wear anything special the day after apart from getting a small yellow jersey to stick on their number on their bike, this can be replaced if they win multiple stages.

Teams used to come to the race with nine riders but the UCI, cycling's governing body, decided that nine riders from each team was too dangerous and dropped it to eight, however more teams are riding now riding.

How long is the Tour de France?

The Tour de France takes place over 23 days with 21 of those days race days. The riders get two days of resting; they usually fall on the second and third Monday of the race.

This year's race is 3,383km long which is 2,102 miles, which is around the distance from New York City to the middle of Utah or almost Berlin to Madrid.

Road stages can range from anything around 100km to something approaching 250km, sometimes more. This year the shortest road stage is the last stage around the streets of Paris at 108.4km with the longest being 249.1km on stage seven, Vierzon to Le Creusot.

Road stages often take around four to five hours with the longer days sometimes nudging over seven hours.

Time trials are always much shorter. Team time trials have long since gone out of fashion in the world of road racing so individual time trials are the main focus these days. 

In 2021 the Tour has two individual time trials for the riders to tackle, one on stage five which is 27.2km long from Changé to Laval, and the second on stage 20 over 30.8km from Libourne to Saint-Emilion.

It is a whole day of coverage for the spectators, but for a rider it is not yet known how long it will take to ride these distances, but it should be around 30-40 minutes.

When does the Tour de France start?

The 2021 Tour de France will start on June 26 in the region of Brittany, France. It will begin in the city of Brest before making its way around the country and finishing back in Paris three weeks later. 

However, the race is usually two weeks later in the calendar. The race had to be moved so that it did not clash with the road cycling, track cycling and mountain biking events in the Olympic Games that start in late July. 

This has meant that multiple riders who are targeting medals in Tokyo are racing at the Tour, meaning the usual top notch line-up is present for the 108th edition of the race.

Last year's event took place in a completely different slot in the calendar and was, oddly, the first Grand Tour of the year after huge delays and restructure to the calendar was needed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This meant that the race took place between August 29 and September 20.

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