The 2021 Tour de France sets off from Brest, Brittany, on Saturday 26 June, and two punchy finishes appear straightaway. Stage 1 is set to finish in Landerneau and stage 2 in Mûr de Bretagne, a place on a hilltop. The finishing straight climbs for 2 kilometres at 6.9%, while the first kilometre goes up at almost 10%. The ascent made its first Tour de France appearance in 2011 with a Cadel Evans victory. Since then Alexis Vuillermoz (2015) and Daniel Martin (2018) were also successful in Mûr de Bretagne.
La Grande Boucle ventures into the Alps in the second weekend. Stage 8 goes to Le Grand Bornand, a ski resort where Alaphilippe soloed to victory in 2018, while stage 9 finishes uphill in Tignes. The 2019 Tour de France would have finished there, but landslides in Val d’Isère decided differently. The Tignes climb is almost 23 kilometres long.
The 10th stage travels from Albertville to Valence, host of the Tour de France twice in the past six years. On both occasions the fast men had it their way – André Greipel in 2015, Peter Sagan in 2018.
Arguably, the 11th stage is the most anticipated race of the 2021 Tour de France. The route takes in a double ascent of the Mont Ventoux without finishing atop the Beast of the Provence. Instead, the race will finish down in Malaucène, which lies at the foot of the famed mountain.
Following stage 12 – a virtually flat race into Nîmes – the race heads over to the Pyrenees, but without entering the mountain range just yet. Stage 13 finishes in Carcassonne, where Magnus Cort won from the breakaway in 2018, and stage 14 Quillan, just shy of the high mountains that the riders penetrate that Sunday. Stage 15 takes in four intermediate climbs before a downhill finish into Andorra la Vella.
The first day of the final week of action is likely to see a successful breakaway. Stage 16 is a lumpy race with a virtually flat finale, while stage 17 serves another Pyrenees test with a race over the Col de Peyresourde, Col d’Azet-Val Louron and a summit finish at the Col du Portet. This is a 16 kilometres climb at 8.7%, which was last used in 2018, when Nairo Quintana soloed to victory.
The final mountainous test of the 2021 Tour de France – stage 18 – takes in the Col du Tourmalet to finish uphill in skiresort Luz-Ardiden after an ascent of 13.3 kilometres at 7.4%.
The 19th stage travels north on undulating terrain – sprinters or attackers?- before the final GC battle comes in the form of a second time trial. Stage 20 takes place in the vineyards of the Bordeaux region and adds up to 31 kilometres.
Obviously, the last stage travels into Paris, where a bunch sprint is next to certain.
Tour de France 2021: route, profiles, more
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