Tour de France

The biggest cycling event of the year is here! The Tour de France tends to get us all excited for cycling, which we are happy to help accommodate. Here's a quick rundown of what we think you need to know going in to the event!

When and Where Is the Race This Year?

The 2021 Tour de France's start (The Grand Départ) was originally intended to be in Copenhagen, but was moved to Brest, Brittany in light of the Covid Pandemic and Copenhagen's role as a host for Euro2020. The dates for this years race have also been moved to begin on the 26th of June and end on the 18th of July, to avoid clashes with the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

The race begins in Brest in Brittany in the west of the country, heading across east and leaving Brittany on the 30th of June. Then heading south-east across the centre of France, passing through Châteauroux in the Centre-Val de Loire on the 1st of July, to Tignes in the Rhône-Alpes in the east of the country on the 4th of July.

The cyclists then turn and head south-west, leading on to Valence, passing Nîmes and Carcassone in the deep south, eventually reaching the country of Andorra on 11th of July for a rest day.

The race then heads north-west back into France to Libourne and Saint-Émilllion, before jumping up to Chatou and ending, as always, down the Champs Élysées in Paris. 

(Tour de France Official Route Map)

Who To Look Out For?

Slovenian cyclists Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) faces tough competition to retain his title from the 2020 edition but remains the very hot favourite. At just 22 years of age he is already breaking Tour records, with the cycling world beginning to talk this up as the dawn of the "Age of Pogačar". 

The man expected to push him closest for the yellow jersey is fellow Slovenian Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma). The 31 year old is currently ranked number one in the UCI World Rankings, with Pogačar second, and he went close to winning the 2020 race but was ultimately beaten by his compatriot. He goes into the race the current holder of the 2020 Vuelta a España 

Wait, What About the French Competitors?

It's been 36 years since a French competitor won the tour, and two natives looking to make their mark this year will be David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step).

Brittany native Gaudu abandoned the 2020 Tour following a fall, but has been on form during regional and warm up races this year, including a dazzling final stage win against competition winner Roglič in the Tour of the Basque Country in April. He's also achieved multiple top 10 finishes this year, including 7th in the La Flèche Wallonne, 3rd in the Liége-Bastogne-Liége and 9th overall in Critérium du Dauphiné, finishing first in the young riders classification (he's just 24).

Finishing 5th place in the 2019 race, Julian "LouLou" Alaphilippe has also had a strong season so far in the UCI World Tour races. 2nd at the Stade Brianche, 1st in La Flèche Wallonne and 2nd in Liége-Bastogne-Liége (behind Pogačar) have set the 29 year old up as one to watch in this year's race.

What About the Teams?

Racers in the Tour don't cycle alone, but as part of a team. This year, British side Ineos Grenadiers (formerly Team Sky) have recruited in incredible strength. While it's not certain their individual riders will be among the stage winners, Ineos are strong favourites to be the team winners. 

A special mention should be made for their rider Egan Bernal, 2019 Tour winner and current Giro d'Italia holder, who won't be racing in France this year due to recurring back pain. He will be missed but aims to focus on returning to the Vuelta a España in September.

Despite missing such a key rider, Ineos will still be able to call upon one of the best rosters at this year's Tour, they will have amongst their team:

Richard Carapaz (2019 Giro d'Italia Winner, 2020 Vuelta de España Winner, and going in as 2021 Tour de Suisse Winner)
Tao Geoghegan Hart (2020 Giro d'Italia Winner, going in as 10th in Critérium du Dauphiné)
Richie Porte (2020 Tour de France 3rd, 5th in 2016, going in as 2nd in 2021 Volta Catalunya, 2nd in Tour de Romandie and 1st in Critérium du Dauphiné)
Geraint Thomas (2018 Tour de France Winner, 2nd in 2019, going in as 3rd in 2021 Volta Catalunya, 1st in Tour de Romandie and 3rd in Critérium du Dauphiné)

Hopefully you found this rundown to be of some use, and we recommend giving the Tour a watch this year, which is tipped to feature the first real competitive challenges from much of the "next generation" of cycling talent. 

Get involved and watch the races, and if you're interested in cycling, keep your eyes peeled on for an exciting new range coming out in the Autumn!

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