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5 November 2020   |   Blog   |   

Five Reasons We Can’t Wait for Tour de France 2021!

Here at Sports Travel International, we’re still recovering from the excitement of ‘The Greatest Race on Earth’. Despite many fears that it wouldn’t even take place, the Tour de France 2020 was a huge success. And what could have been a better ending, than seeing Ireland’s own sprinting superstar Sam Bennett claim, not only the stage victory on the iconic Champs – Élysées, but also the Green Jersey. Ireland’s fist Grand Tour jersey win since Sean Kelly, back in 1989.

We can’t wait for the Tour to return in 2021. So, following the weekend’s route announcement, here’s our list of 5 moments to look forward to, for the 2021 Tour de France!

Grand Depart Brittany – Fri 25 June – Wed 30 June – More information available here

The programme for the opening days of the Tour de France 2021, held in the beautiful, coastal region of Brittany in North West France, will be as follows;

Saturday – Stage 1 in Brittany – Brest to Landerneau
Sunday – Stage 2 in Brittany – Perros-Guirec to Mûr-de-Bretagne Guerlédan
Monday – Stage 3 in Brittany – Lorient to Pontivy
Tuesday – Stage 4 in Brittany – Redon to Fougeres
Wednesday – Stage 5 in Pays de Loire – Change – Laval ITT (Laval is 25 mins by train from Rennes)

This will be the 6th time that the Grand Depart has been held in the region, and the 5th start on French soil  in the last 10 years. The Tour de France and the, hilly and scenic area around Brittany have always had a special relationship.

Here’s some key stats for the Tour de France in Brittany;

  • 170 stages held with the start or arrival in the region since 1906
  • 33 different cities in Brittany have hosted a stage
  • 6 Grands Départs have taken place in Brittany: in Brest (1952-74-2008), in Rennes (1964), in Plumelec (1985) and in Saint-Brieuc (1995)
  • 153 Breton riders have raced in the Tour between 1905 and 2019 (record participation in 1958: 14)
  • 4 Bretons have won the Tour de France: Lucien Petit-Breton (1907-08), Jean Robic (1947), Louison Bobet (1953-54-55) and Bernard Hinault (1978-79-81-82-85)

Seeing a Grand Depart on the home soil of Tour de France legend Bernard Hinault, has got to be a must for any Tour de France fan!

Annecy Weekend – Fri 2 July – Mon 5 July – More information available here

You can enjoy an incredible weekend, at our 4* lakeside Hotel in Annecy, including exclusive TDF merchandise and the chance to indulge with included VIP access.  So you can enjoy the Tour from up close.

The Weekend in Annecy will Include;

Saturday 3 July – Stage 8 – Oyonnax to Le Grand-Bornand

On Saturday, the climb to Le Grand Bornand will, as it was in both 2009 and 2018, be preceded by the Col de Romme and Col de La Colombière climbing sequence. However, this time it will also be preceded by the climb up to Mont-Saxonnex (5.7 km at 8.3%). This punishing stage will therefore offer a triple climb over a distance of over 20 kms at close to 9%. Theday is sure to be one for the very best climbers!

The last time a stage ended in Le Grand Bornand, in 2018, future World Champion and home favourite, Julian Alaphilippe captured his first Tour stage victory, after a masterpiece in riding that saw him drop all his breakaway companions.

Sunday 4 July – Stage 9 – Cluses to Tignes

On Sunday, the tour will return to Tignes, to banish demons of the past. In 2019, horrific weather conditions, including mudslides on the route, lead to an early stage finish. That day, in effect, the stage finished atop the  Col de l’Iseran. As a result of which, eventual tour victor, Egan Banal moved into the lead in the race for the yellow jersey. In fact, cyclists that had travelled with us, were the only riders to cross the intended finish line on that eventful day!

Mont Ventoux Start and Finish – Mon 5 July – Thu 8 July – More information available here

The ‘Giant of Provence’ has been absent from le Tour since 2016 (and even then high winds forced the peleton to finish 6 kms sort of the summit at Chalet Reynard. However, in 2021, this legendary peak will return, not just once but twice, with a double summiting on stage 11, before the route descends to a finish in Malaucène.

This is the first time in the history of the tour that the mountain has been ascended twice in a single stage. An event which, defending champion, Tadej Pogacar describes as “a legendary stage”. However, the infamous ‘Giant’ is no stranger to the tour. The tour has passed over the windy mountain no less than 16 times, including 10 mountain- top finishes.

It was here, in 1967, that British cyclist Tom Simpson famously succumbed to heat exhaustion. In 1970 Eddy Merckx pushed himself almost to collapse in his efforts to win the stage. He required oxygen after crossing the line, but recovered, and went on to win the Tour.

This is sure to be a historic day in Tour de France history.

The Pyrenees – Mon 12 July – Fri 16 July – More information available here

Between the 12th and 16th of July, the Tour de France 2021 will move from the Alps and into the legendary peaks of the Pyrenees. 2 stages that could prove pivotal in the 2021 fight for yellow, are the climbs of the Col de Portet and Luz Ardiden. Both featuring in the final week of the tour, the favourites for yellow are sure to put on a spectacular display, as they battle it out on these crucial climbs.

On Bastille Day (Stage 17), the riders will take on a tri of climbs; the Col da Peyresourde, Col de val Louron – Azet, and finally the Col de Portet. Although first considered in 1982, the Col de Portet did not feature on the tour until 2018, when it was Colombian Nairo Quintana who took victory on the 16 km Hors catégorie climb an altitude of 2,215 m. In the process he won the Souvenir Henri Desgrange, while Geriant Thomas strengthened his lead in the yellow jersey contest.

As it finishes at a dead – end, the climb of the Luz Ardiden is always a mountain – top finish. Another hors category climb, it has provided 8 finishes for the Tour de France and 2 at the Vuelta a Espana. It was Samuel Sanchez who last took victory on this iconic climb in 2011.

At almost 15km long, with an average gradient of 7% and sections reaching up to 10%, this climb is sure to prove an exciting test for the riders at this late stage in the tour.

Final Weekend in Paris – Fri 16 or Sat 17 July to Mon 19 July – More information available here

The finish of the Tour de France, on the iconic Avenue des Champs-Élysées, is always a breath- taking spectacle and the Tour de France 2021 will be no exception.  But in 2020, despite fears the tour might not even go ahead, it was, more than ever before, really something special.

Having already made history, by becoming the first Irish man to win a stage of the tour de France in 30 years, and only thew second Irish rider in history to win a stage at all 3 tours (the other being Shay Elliott back in 1963); sprinter and national hero Sam Bennett tore up the record books on the Champs-Élysées this year, to take the stage victory and his green jersey title in one tremendous swoop.

Bennett said of his achievement,

“I can’t tell you how excited I am … the green jersey, on the Champs Élysées. I never thought I’d ever be able to win this stage; the sprinters’ world championships, and to do it in green, it’s just so amazing.”

Bennett also now joins a very exclusive group of only 4 (now 5) riders, to have won the prestigious closing stage of the Tour de France while wearing green. He is of course, also the first Irish rider to have achieve this most unique accolade. Irish cycling legend Sean Kelly said of Bennett’s achievement that it was,

“…going to be really important for Irish cycling, because now, with the exposure we’re getting at home, the younger generation … will get more into cycling, and that’s what we need.”

Join us to see Bennett defending his title in Paris, in what is sure to be a spectacular celebration of cycling, at the Tour de France 2021!

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