The following article is a summary of the 2021 Tour de France to get you up to speed on what is happening for this edition. We have also included a few extra bits and pieces of trivia and useful information. Whether you have watched the Tour de France for many years, or are tuning on for the first time there is something for you.
The Tour de France route is announced each year in October for the following year. This first presentation could be considered a high-level overview of what is come. It will include the start and finish towns for each stage, dates, mountain climbs and detailed routes for some stages. As such there may be some information on this page that is currently missing. Once it becomes available it will be updated.
Start date: Saturday 26 June 2021
Start location: Brest
Number of stages: 21
Total distance: 3,383km / 2,114mi (still to be finalised)
Finish date: 18 July 2021
Finish location: Paris
Longest stage: Stage 7 Vierzon to Le Creusot 248km
Shortest stage: Stage 21 Chatou to Paris 112km (excludes time trial stages)
Greatest elevation gain:
Time trial stages: 2
Flat stages: 8
Hilly stages: 5
Mountain stages: 6
Rest days: 2
Summit finishes: Stage 9 Tignes, Stage 17 Col du Portet and Stage 18 Luz Ardiden
Highest road: Port d’Envaliar at 2,408m
Categorised climbs: 27 (HC, Cat 1 and Cat 2)
Number of teams: 23
Number of riders: 184
Total prize money: €2.3M
Winner prize money: €500K
The city of Brest has the honor of hosting the ‘Grand Départ for the 108th edition of the Tour. Brest has some pedigree in relation to cycling, well known as the halfway point in the Paris-Brest-Paris audax race. This will be the fifth time Brest has been chosen as a host city for the Grand Départ of the Tour de France. From here the Brittany region plays host to no less than four stages. The first two of these are classified as hilly and a summit finish on the Mur de Bretagne awaits the peloton for stage two. Will this be an indication of early yellow jersey intentions? No doubt these first stages will provide for some spectacular images.
The fast men of the Peloton will be very happy to see there are multiple opportunities for stage victories on offer. All up there are eight stages which have been classified as being ‘flat’. But with the first two stages in Brittany being marked as hilly the first opportunities for the Green Jersey contenders may not come until stage 3.
Stages five and twenty are individual time trials which will see riders race against the clock. Unlike the 2020 edition there are no steep climbs for the riders to overcome on these stages but at 27km and 31km in length respectively, there will certainly be an opportunity for GC contenders to put time into their rivals.
Riders only have two mountain stages to get through in the French Alps this year. Stage eight sees the riders first tackle the climb of the Col de la Colombiere before finishing with a downhill run into Le Grand-Bornarnd. The 145km Stage nine on the following day includes no less than five categorised climbs. The most challenging of these being the the Cormet de Roseland climb. Tignes is selected as the stage nine summit finish town. The Tour was due to finish here in 2019 until a freak hail storm put a halt to this.
Stage 11 will see the peloton tackle the infamous Mont Ventoux climb not once but twice! The mountain has been the stage for many fireworks in previous editions of the Tour before and it last appeared in 2016 with Chris Froome infamously running to the finish. This year riders will tackle the climb firstly from Sault – the easier approach – before descending down and heading up again from the more challenging Bedoin side. From there it will be another fast descent to the finishing town of Malaucène.
Stage 15 will see the Tour once again visit the small provence of Andorra. This mountainous stage also includes the highest point for the 2021 edition of the race with the summit of the Port d’Envillara at 2408m. The first rider over the top of the climb will be awarded the Souvenir Henri Desgranges.
Following the rest day riders leave Andorra headed for the French Pyrenees on a mainly flat stage. What follows next are two very demanding stages. Stage 17 includes three categorised climbs and a summit finish at the Col de Portet. This is a relatively new climb in the Tour de France having been first used in 2018. The following day will see riders first tackle the Col du Tourmalet before another summit finish at the ski station of Luz Ardiden. These two stages will most certainly see attacks from the GC favourites for the yellow jersey.
For more information on the 2021 Tour route on the official Tour de France site click here.
In the table below we have included a summary of each stage to help keep you up to date with when and where each stage is. As more information about each stage becomes available we will add it so check back.
There are two ways of watching the Tour de France. Firstly you can head to France and watch the action live by the side of the road or secondly, watch the race on one of the many TV stations or online streaming services on offer. If you are planning to be in France you can choose one of the many tour companies that are offering trips to the 2021 Tour de France or choose to do you own thing.
There are plenty of cycle tour companies that offer trips to watch the Tour de France if you would like someone to take care of everything for you. The Tour de France officially endorses seven different tour companies, three premium companies and three official operators. These companies are given access to areas that are off-limits to the general public including the start area, hospitality and the finish areas. You will have the opportunity to ride on the course where the general public will not and meet the riders before the start of the stage. These companies have access to accommodation through the organisers which means you will not have as far to drive at the start and end of the days as well as parking in restricted areas.
There are also plenty of other tour companies that offer holidays to follow the Tour de France. While these companies are unlikely to have the same access levels as the official tour companies you will still enjoy everything the Tour de France has to offer.
We have compiled a list of both the official Tour de France tour operators and the non-official operators. You can click on the name of the company to head to their web site and see what is on offer. Whether you want a holiday just watching the race with no riding, or lots of riding every day you will find a trip that is right for you.
We have noticed that some of the companies that offered 2020 Tour de France trips are not offering 2021 trips. Given the current situation regarding restrictions on travel still in place we assume these will run again in 2022. This is especially the case for companies based in Australia, New Zealand and the USA.
The companies listed here are the official premium operators of the Tour de France:
tompson bike tours – offering 4 different trips covering different sections of the race. From 6 to 10 days in duration.
Custom Getaways – offering 10 different options between 1 and 7 days in length. Options cover different stages of the race.
Sports Tours International – choose from 15 different options ranging from a single stage to 7 days.
The companies listed here are the official operators of the Tour de France:
Discover France – choose from 12 options ranging from single stages to 6 days. Options for start or finish line access or a VIP helicopter flight
mummu cycling – offering 7 different trips for 2021 ranging from 3 to 8 days in length. Some trips are hosted by ex-pro Stuart O’Grady.
Trek Travel – offering 5 different 2021 trips ranging from 1 to 10 days. Tour prices includes the hire of a premium Trek bike.
The companies listed here all offer trips to watch the Tour de France but are not official partners of the race.
Bike Style Tours – 2021 tours not released
Escape Adventures – 2021 tours not released
Ride Holidays New Zealand – 2021 not released
Ride International Tours – offering a 10 day trip covering the final 10 days of the 2021 Tour de France.
Velo Tours – for 2021 choose from a Pyrenees or French Alps tour, both are 10 days in length.
For any cycling fan, cheering the riders at the side of the road at the Tour de France is something we highly recommend. It is true that you stand at the side of the road for hours only to watch the riders flash past in a matter of minutes, but it is so much more than that. The mountain stages are generally the most popular and it is not unheard of to have hundreds of thousands of spectators line the road as it twists and turns up the steep gradients. We have an article dedicated to watching the Tour de France which you can read here.
The Tour de France is shown live in 190 countries around the world so no matter where you are you should be able to find somewhere to watch the coverage. Below is a list of TV stations and streaming services that are the official broadcast partners of the Tour de France.
Streaming services will not necessarily work in every single country due to rights restrictions and geo-blocking so make sure you check before signing up. If you are away from your usual country of residence you may find your streaming service no longer works so double check before you leave. A good VPN can come in handy here.
Belgium – RTBF
Czech Republic – Ceska Televise
Europe – Eurosport
France – France TV Sport & Eurosport France
Germany – ARD.
Italy – RAI Sport
Ireland – TG4
Luxembourg – RTL
Netherlands – NOS
Norway – TV2
Portugal – RTP
Slovakia – RTVS
Slovenia – TRV SLO
Spain – RTVE
Switzerland – SRG SSR
United Kingdom – ITV
Wales – S4C
Canada – Flobikes
Columbia – Caracol TV
Latin America and Caribbean – ESPN
South America – TV5 Monde
United States of America – NBC Sports & TV5 Monde
Australia – SBS
China – CCTV and Zhibo TV
Japan – J Sports
New Zealand – Sky Sports
Southeast Asia – Eurosport & GCN
Middle East and North Africa – BeIN Sports and TV5 Monde
Sub-Saharan Africa – Supersport and TV5 Monde
If you are a new comer to the Tour de France and cycle races in general you may not be aware of many of the terms used while you watching the race. To help we have put together some information so you better understand everything that is going on.
There are four different competitions within the Tour de France being the overall winner (yellow jersey), best sprinter (green jersey), best mountain climber (polka dot jersey) and the best youngest rider (white jersey). It is possible for a rider to win more than one jersey in a single race. In the 2020 edition of the race Tadej Pogačar won the Yellow, Polka Dot and White jerseys. We will explain each of these in turn below.
1. The Yellow Jersey – this is the jersey everyone wants to win and is the overall winner of the Tour de France. The yellow jersey is awarded to the rider with the shortest overall time when all the stage times are added up. Riders can also be awarded bonus seconds for finishing in the top 3 of a stage where they are awarded 10, 6 or 4 seconds bonus for finishing 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Given the 2020 Tour de France was won by a margin of only 59 seconds, the bonus seconds can make a difference.
2. The Green jersey – this jersey is won based on an accumulation of points awarded to riders through intermediate sprint points during the stage and at the finish line. The first 15 riders are awarded points which vary based on the type of stage. For example, on a flat stage the first over the line is awarded 50 points while on a mountain stage only 20 points are awarded for first. This jersey rewards rider consistency and is awarded to a rider who can sprint well but also gain intermediate points.
3. The Polka Dot jersey – this jersey is awarded based on the accumulation of points awarded at the top of climbs. The harder the climb the more points that are on offer for the win. This jersey is suited to those riders who are good climbers.
4. The White jersey – only riders under the age of 26 are eligible for this jersey and it is awarded to the rider with the shortest overall time in this category.
While watching the Tour de France you will quite often see French language terms used either by commentators or on the screen. We have put together a list of the some of the more common ones with their English translation so you know what they mean.
Arrière du Peloton – the rear of the main group of riders
Arrivée – Stage finish
Bonification – Bonus seconds
Chrono – time trial
Classement – classification or rank
Départ – Stage start
Director Sportif – the team director who sits in the following car and manages their riders
Domestique – these riders work for the team leaders and make sure they are looked after
Étape – stage
Étape de plaine – flat stage
Étape de accidentées – hilly stage
Étape de montagne – mountain stage
Flamme rouge – the red flag that designates 1km left to the finish
Grand Départ – First stage start
Grimpeur – a rider who is considered a natural climber
Hors catégorie – the hardest of mountain climbs, “beyond categorisation”.
Lantern rouge – the person in last position in the race
Maillot Jaune – Yellow Jersey
Maillot Vert – Green Jersey
Maillot Blanc À pois rouges – Polka dot jersey
Maillot Blanc – White Jersey
Massif – mountain range
Musette – the bag that riders are handed at feed zones
Palmarés – a rider’s career achievements
Pavé – cobbled streets and roads. Made famous by the Paris Roubaix cycling race
Peloton – the main bunch of riders
Puncheur – riders who are good a rolling terrain and short steep hill climbs
Rouleur – a rider who is great on the flatter roads but not so good once it gets steeper
Soigneur – team helpers who look after the riders both during and after the race
Tete de la course – head of the race
The Tour de France first ran in 1903 and apart from a break during WW1 and WW2 has run every year since. 2021 is the 108th edition of the race. Over the years there have been some great records created and we list some of them below.
Most number of Tour de France wins – 5 Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.
Most times in the yellow jersey – 111 Eddy Merckx
Greatest number of stage wins – 34 Eddy Merckx
Greatest number of stages won in a single tour – 8 Charles Péllssier
Greatest number of podiums – 8 Raymond Poulidor
Most Tour de Frances ridden – 18 Sylvain Chavanel
Most Green Jerseys – 7 Peter Sagan
Most Polka Dot Jerseys – 7 Richard Virenque
Most White Jerseys – 3 Jan Ullrich and Andy Schleck
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