Climbs of the 2021 Tour de France
We have created the page for the Climbs of the 2022 Tour de France as well. You can access it here if you would like to see the climbs of the 2022 race.
The 2021 Tour de France features 25 different categorised climbs, two of which will be climbed twice by the riders. In this post we have included lots of information about the climbs so you have everything you need to know at your fingertips in the one location. We have put together a stage by stage list of each climb and relevant information in the table below.
A brief history of the mountains in the Tour de France
In most editions of the Tour de France, the mountain stages are where the race is won or lost. A single bad day for a rider in the mountains can see them lose minutes to rivals and an end to their title bid. On long mountain climbs, there is nowhere to hide and any little chinks in a riders armour are usually found out. Over the years climbs such as Alpe d’Huez, Col du Galibier, Mont Ventoux, Col du Tourmalet and Col d’Aubisque have become synonymous with the race.
The mountain stages are some of the most popular for people to watch the race and there are many iconic images of riders navigating a sea of spectators. It is estimated that many hundreds of thousands of fans line the mountain roads as they twist and turn their way to the summit. On rare occasions, fans get a little too close and bring a rider down.
First mountain stage in the Pyrenees
The mountains first entered the Tour de France in the 8th edition in 1910. In that year stage 10 started in the Pyrenean town of Bagneres de Luchon and climbed Col du Peyresourde, Col d’Aspin, Col du Tourmalet and Col d’Aubisque before finishing 326km later in Bayon. Octave Lapize finished the stage first in a time of 14hrs 10mins. No mean feat given that all the mountain passes were dirt roads back in those days and the bikes had nowhere near the range of gears modern bikes now have.
Inclusion of the French Alps
While the organisers deemed the addition of the mountains to be successful the riders were less impressed and there were protests in 1910 about the stage. Nevertheless, in 1911 the French Alps were added to the race with the inclusion of Col du Galibier, Col de Castillion and Col de Braus. This was in addition to the stage in the Pyrenees.
Since those early days, both the Pyrenees and French Alps have featured in the race annually. In later years climbs in other regions such as the Jura, the Vosges and Massif Central have been added to the race. The Pyrenees and French Alps have generally taken turns in being featured in the all-important last week of the race. In 2021 it is the Pyrenees that will close out the mountain stages for this edition of the race.
2021 Tour de France climb stats
The 2021 Tour de France includes 10 stages with categorised climbs, three of which includes a summit finish; Stage 9 Tignes, Stage 17 Col du Portet and Stage 18 Luz Ardiden. The race includes 27 categorised climbs on 25 different mountains, Mur de Bretagne and Mont Ventoux will be climbed twice by the riders.
There are four climbs over 2,000m with the highest being Port d’Envilaria at 2,408m, followed by Col du Portet at 2,215m, Col du Tourmalet at 2,115m and Montée de Tignes at 2,089m. The longest climb is the climb to Mont Ventoux from Sault which is 24.3km at an average gradient of 5%.
We will continue to update this section as more information becomes available. The detailed route is not yet announced for every stage.
Categorisation of Tour de France climbs
Each of the climbs is given a categorisation which is an indication of the difficulty of the climb. Hors category (HC) are the toughest climbs followed by category 1, category 2, category 3 and category 4. A category 1 climb will be harder than a category 3 climb so the lower the number the harder the climb. A climb can change categorisation based on how far into a stage it might be. For example, a climb could be considered a category 2 climb if it comes early on in the stage when riders have fresh legs, or a category 1 climb if it comes towards the end.
The climb categorisation also comes into play when awarding points in the Polka Dot jersey competition. For example on an HC climb the first rider over the top will be awarded 20 points while on a category 4 climb the first rider will be awarded 1 point. On an HC climb points are awarded for the first 8 riders while on a category 4 climb only the top rider receives any points. There is a sliding scale of points and positions between HC and category 4.
At present, the detailed route for the 2021 Tour de France has not been announced. As such the official categorisation of the climbs is not yet available. We will update the article once the information is released.
Planning your own cycling holiday to France
If you are planning a trip to France to ride some of these climbs and the many more on offer our site includes lots more information. We have written guides on the Best base for cycling in the Pyrenees and Where to stay in the French Alps with lots of information about these two areas. Our Destination guide page has more detailed information about The Pyrenees, The French Alps, The Alpes Maritimes, The Jura and Provence and Luberon.
We also have lists of cycle hotels, airline luggage rules, cycle tour companies and bike travel cases to help you plan your trip.