BREST, France (Reuters) – A look at the route for the 2021 Tour de France, stage by stage:
Stage 1, June 26 : Brest – Landerneau 197.8km
Hilly terrain for the opening stage, which finishes with the Cote de la Fosse aux Loups, a 3-km uphill drag at an average gradient of 5.7%. Julian Alaphilippe and Mathieu van der Poel are set to battle it out for the first yellow jersey.
Stage 2, June 27 : Perros Guirrec – Mur de Bretagne Guerledan 183.5km
Another uphill finish (2km at 6.9%) at the end of another hilly stage. Alaphilippe and Van der Poel are the favourites again.
Stage 3, June 28 : Lorient – Pontivy 182.9km
One for the sprint specialists.
Stage 4, June 29 : Redon – Fougeres 150.4km
Another mass sprint expected.
Stage 5, June 30: Change – Laval 27.2km (individual time trial)
Geraint Thomas will be hoping to better his rivals for the general classification after possibly losing a few seconds in the first two stages.
Stage 6, July 1: Tours – Chateauroux 160.6km
Yet another sprint finish in the town where Mark Cavendish won his first Tour stage in 2008.
Stage 7, July 2: Vierzon – Le Creusot 249.1km
The longest stage in this year’s race. Hilly in its second part which should favour a rider from the day’s breakaway.
Stage 8, July 3: Oyonnax – Le Grand Bornand 150.8km
First mountain stage with three consecutive first-category ascents before a long descent to Le Grand Bornand.
Stage 9, July 4: Cluses – Tignes 144.9km
A brutal mountain trek featuring the Col du Pre (12.6km at 7.7%) and the final ascent to the ski resort of Tignes (21km at 5.6%).
July 5: Rest day in Tignes
Stage 10, July 6: Albertville – Valence 190.7km
An easy day for the overall contenders after the first rest day. A stage for the sprinters.
Stage 11, July 7: Sorgues – Malaucene 198.9km
Punishing day in Provence as the stage takes the peloton to the top of the feared Mont Ventoux twice. The first ascent will be made from Sault (22km at 5.1%) and the second from the hardest side, from Bedoin (15.7km at 8.8%) before a fast descent to Malaucene.
Stage 12, July 8: Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux – Nimes 159.4km
A short hill midway through the stage will not prevent the stage from finishing in a mass sprint.
Stage 13, July 9: Nimes – Carcassonne 219.9km
Another sprint expected.
Stage 14, July 10: Carcassonne – Quillan 183.7km
A very hilly stage that should favour the breakaway specialists while the top guns gear up for the Pyrenees.
Stage 15, July 11: Ceret – Andorra la Vella 191.3km
First of four days in the Pyrenees, with three first-category climbs on the menu. The descents are tricky.
July 12: Rest day in Andorra
Stage 16, July 13: Pas de la Case – Saint-Gaudens 169km
The top contenders will have their guard up, but they probably won’t take any risks.
Stage 17, July 14: Muret – Saint-Lary-Soulan (Col du Portet) 178.4km
Three very hard climbs with the last one, the Col du Portet (16km at 8.7%), ending up at 2,215 metres above sea level. The Tour could be won here.
Stage 18, July 15: Pau – Luz Ardiden 130km
Expect fireworks on a short stage that features the Col du Tourmalet (17.1km at 7.3%, at 2,115 metres) and the finish at top of the ascent to Luz Ardiden (13.3km at 7.4%).
Stage 19, July 16: Mourenx – Libourne 207km
A long, flat stage for the sprinters as the main contenders take it easy after the Pyrenees.
Stage 20, July 17: Libourne – Saint-Emilion 30.8km (individual time trial)
If big differences have not been made in the mountains, the Tour will be decided on the flat solo effort against the clock through the Bordeaux wineyards.
Stage 21, July 18: Chatou – Paris 108.4km
The most prestigious stage for the sprinters.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Hugh Lawson)