After the pandemic forced the Tour de France to be moved back to August in 2020, the race will once again return to its normal start time in June for 2021.
And after a thrilling finish in 2020 where the race came down to just 59 seconds, all eyes will be on Tadej Pogacar, the leader of UAE Team Emirates. Last year, Pogacar won the race to become the second-youngest Tour winner of all time and the first to win the general classification, young rider and King of the Mountains jerseys all in the same race.
He could also face a stiff challenge from the rider who placed second to him last year, fellow Slovenian and world No. 1 rider Primoz Roglic from Team Jumbo — Visma.
This year, there are 23 teams with eight riders on each team to total 184 cyclists overall in the 2021 field.
Tour de France standings 2021
Tour de France winners, results by stage
The 2021 Tour de France will begin in Brest on June 26 and will race southeast before cutting back toward the southwest portion of France and wrapping up in Paris at the Champs-Elysees on July 18. During the 23 days, only two will be reserved for resting, while two others will be shorter distance time trials for the cyclists.
In total, the race will span 3,414.4 kilometers, or 2,121.6 miles.
|1||June 26||197.8 km (122.9 mi.)||Brest to Landerneau (hilly)||—|
|2||June 27||183.5 km (114.0 mi.)||Perros-Guirec to Bretagne Guerledan (hilly)||—|
|3||June 28||182.9 km (113.6 mi.)||Lorient to Pontivy (flat)||—|
|4||June 29||150.4 km (93.5 mi.)||Redon to Fougeres (flat)||—|
|5||June 30||27.2 km (16.9 mi.)||Change to Laval Espace Mayenne (individual time-trial)||—|
|6||July 1||160.6 km (99.8 mi.)||Tours to Chateauroux (flat)||—|
|7||July 2||249.1 km (154.8 mi.)||Vierzon to Le Creusot (hilly)||—|
|8||July 3||150.8 km (93.7 mi.)||Oyonnax to Le Grand Bornand (mountain)||—|
|9||July 4||144.9 km (90.0 mi.)||Cluses to Tignes (mountain)||—|
|Rest Day||July 5||—||Tignes||NA|
|10||July 6||190.7 km (118.5 mi.)||Albertville to Valence (flat)||—|
|11||July 7||198.9 km (123.6 mi.)||Sorgues to Malaucene (mountain)||—|
|12||July 8||159.4 km (99.0 mi.)||Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Nimes (flat)||—|
|13||July 9||219.9 km (136.6 mi.)||Nimes to Carcassonne (flat)||—|
|14||July 10||183.7 km (114.1 mi.)||Carcassonne to Quillan (hilly)||—|
|15||July 11||191.3 km (118.9 mi.)||Ceret to Andorre-La-Vielille (mountain)||—|
|Rest Day||July 12||—||Andorre||NA|
|16||July 13||169 km (105.0 mi.)||Pas De La Case to Saint-Gaudens (hilly)||—|
|17||July 14||178.4 km (110.9 mi.)||Muret to Saint-Lary-Soulan Col Du Portet (mountain)||—|
|18||July 15||129.7 km (80.6 mi.)||Pau to Luz Ardiden (mountain)||—|
|19||July 16||207 km (128.6 mi.)||Mourenx to Libourne (flat)||—|
|20||July 17||30.8 km (19.1 mi.)||Libourne to Saint-Emilion (individual time-trial)||—|
|21||July 18||108.4 km (67.4 mi.)||Chatou to Paris Champs-Elysees (flat)||—|
What do the Tour de France jerseys mean?
Along the course of the Tour de France, riders will receive a number of jerseys for different accomplishments. There are four primary jerseys: yellow, polka-dot, green and white.
In the history of the Tour de France, Eddy Merckx is the only rider to ever win three jerseys during a single competition when he took home the yellow, polka-dot and green jerseys.
The most well known of the jerseys, the maillot jaune, is worn by the rider with the lowest aggregate time before the start of a stage. Often, a cyclist will win a stage, but that does not mean they will come away with the yellow jersey that day as it is based on the overall finish in the race. The cyclist wearing it at the end of the Tour de France is considered the winner.
The polka-dot jersey, also known as the maillot a pois rouges, is awarded to the rider considered the King of the Mountains. The different mountains are each graded based on difficulty and being the first to crest a mountain will net a rider a certain number of points. The cyclist with the most points receives the polka-dot jersey. Richard Virenque has won the jersey the most, having received it for four straight years from 1994-97 and in 1999, 2003 and 2004.
The maillot vert is the sprinter’s jersey, given to the riders that are leading the points classification. Points are earned based on placement at the end of stages and for intermediate sprints, with flat stages having the highest point values. First-place in a flat stage nets 50 points, the hilly or medium mountain earns 30, while high mountain, time trials and intermediate sprints earn 20 points each. Everyone in the top 15 of a stage will receive points. Pater Sagan has won the green jersey the most with seven wins.
Riders receive the maillot blanc by being the best young cyclist, which is anyone that will be under 26 on Jan. 1 of the year following the tour. Andy Schleck and Jan Ullrich have each won the white jersey three times, while last year’s overall Tour de France winner, Tadej Pogacar, won both the white and yellow jersey at age 21 — though he turned 22 the day after winning — to become the youngest Tour de France winner since World War II.
There are a number of other jerseys that will pop up during the race. The cyclist wearing a rainbow jersey is the reigning champion, while the rider judged most aggressive on the previous day will waer a white number on a red background instead of the typical white on black. Multiple riders can wear a black number on a yellow background, which indicates the team that has the fastest three riders, though they could also opt for yellow helmets.
Some riders will also wear the jersey of their home nation if they win a national championship from a UCI-recognized country.
Tour de France records
There are many records in the 107-year history of the Tour de France, and Merckx is the holder of several. In addition to being the only cyclist ever to win the yellow, polka-dot and green jerseys in the same race, he also holds the record with 34 stage wins and five tour wins overall, the latter tying him with Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain. Mark Cavendish does have a chance of breaking the stage win record as he currently sits at 30 and will be racing in the 2021 edition of the Tour de France, though he has not won a stage there since 2016.
Sylvain Chavanel has made the most appearances at 18 and is tied with Joop Zoetemelk with 16 finishes.
The largest margin of victory came in the first Tour de France back in 1903, when Maurice Garin waited two hours, 49 minutes and 45 seconds for Lucien Pothier to join him at the finish line. The closest finish came in 1989 when Greg LeMond came in just eight seconds ahead of Laurent Fignon.
The fastest Tour came in 2005 when Lance Armstrong finished with a time of 86 hours, 15 minutes and two seconds to post an average speed of 41.7 km/h or 25.9 mph. His win has since been taken away due to his use of doping.
France has won the most stages at 710 with Belgium in second at 474. The United States is down at 14th with 18 after Armstrong’s stage wins were revoked.