Everything you need to know about Tour de France 2021

The 108th Tour de France gets underway this weekend, on Saturday, June 26, in the Brittany town of Brest.

There are 10 Aussies set to compete at this year’s race, although only a handful are expected to make a significant dent in terms of stage wins or be in contention for overall honours.

Here is everything you need to know about this year’s race.

When does the Tour de France start?

Who will stand atop the podium in 2021? Probably two of the three who stood there in 2020.(

AP: Thibault Camus


The Tour gets underway on Saturday night with a 197.8km stage from Brest to Landerneau through the Brittany countryside, which you can watch live on SBS.

The relatively flat first stage, featuring a few short, sharp climbs — including at the finish — will suit the one-day specialists, including Aussie Michael Matthews.

The three-week-long race will consist of 3,414.4km of racing, featuring a whopping 49,000 metres of climbing, across 21 stages, finishing on the Champs Élysée in Paris on Sunday, July 18.

Who are the favourites?

Tadej Pogacar grimaces and rides in a white jersey in front of Primoz Roglic who is in a yellow jersey
The pair of Slovenians, Tadej Pogacar, left, and Primoz Roglic, will surely be in contention for overall honours.(

AP: Christophe Ena, Pool


Last year’s champion Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and his Slovenian rival Primož Roglič (Jumbo Visma) are both obvious contenders.

Neither raced in traditional warm-up races, the Critérium du Dauphiné or Tour de Suisse, meaning their form is questionable, but they are still considered the riders to beat.

Welshman Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), Tour champion in 2018, has looked in good touch this season, and will be keen to get back to the top step of the podium.

His greatest rivals could come from within his own team though, with Richard Carapaz attacking his way to the Tour de Suisse title in recent weeks and former Giro champion Tao Geoghegan Hart in Ineos’ impressive arsenal, which also features Richie Porte, fresh from this year’s Dauphiné win and last year’s third place.

Among the others who could challenge are Miguel Ángel López (Movistar), Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo) and Esteban Chaves (BikeExchange).

Who is Australia’s best chance?

Richie Porte wears a yellow jersey and holds a bunch of flowers and a toy lion in each hand
Richie Porte claimed honours at traditional Tour de France warm up race, the Critérium du Dauphiné.(

AFP: David Stockman


Despite saying he is only at the Tour as a support rider after winning the Dauphiné, Richie Porte is in scintillating form and cannot be ignored as a potential challenger if things go wrong for Thomas or Carapaz.

In terms of general classification, Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën), the 25-year-old West Australian, has impressed this year as a team leader and will likely make a name for himself in the high Alps, while Queenslander Jack Haig (Team Bahrain Victorious) will also be given a chance after impressing with 5th at the Dauphiné.

Realistically though, Australia’s biggest chance of success at the Tour will come in the form of stage wins, perhaps through Michael Matthews, but more likely via Caleb Ewan.

Caleb Ewan aiming for green

A smiling Caleb Ewan raises one finger after crossing the finish line.
Caleb Ewan has five Tour de France stage wins in his two appearances. He could double that this time around.(

Reuters: Christian Hartmann


As the fastest sprinter in the field, Ewan will be looking to secure wins early during the Tour’s flat-ish start through Brittany.

The pint-sized Sydneysider and his Lotto Soudal team will likely look to target stages three, four and six in the first week, followed by stages 10, 12, 13, 19 and 21.

Such is Ewan’s dominance, anything less than two stage wins in the first week will likely be considered a failure for the diminutive Sydneysider, but as it’s the Tour, anything could happen.

He’ll face some competition for sprint stage victories from Mark Cavendish, the most successful sprinter in terms of stage wins in Tour history, Arnaud Démare and Italian veteran Elia Viviani, among others.

Stage one also presents an opportunity for the sprinters, but the sharp final incline might be enough to weed out the bulkier names and leave it to be contested by the puncheurs, such as world champion Julian Alaphiippe, Peter Sagan, Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert or perhaps even Michael Matthews.

Michael Matthews celebrates in Tour de France green jersey
Michael Matthews will need to rediscover some form should he wish to repeat his 2017 green jersey triumph.(

AP: Christophe Ena


Those puncheurs will also fancy stage two‘s 183.5km jaunt to the Mûr de Bretagne, a wicked climb that the peloton will ascend twice, including at the finish.

In terms of going for the green jersey, Ewan will not have to deal with reigning champion Sam Bennett, with the Irishman missing out with a knee injury this year, but the pure sprinters will battle just to finish this year’s challenging route.

Key stages to watch

The race leader in the yellow jersey grimaces as crowds wave him on at the Tour de France.
Julian Alaphilippe will aim for stage wins early on, and perhaps another stint in yellow.(

AP: Christophe Ena


While the opening week will produce plenty of intrigue, as ever, the real action will start when the road goes up and into the mountains.

Stage eight on Saturday, July 3, includes an ascent of the formidable Col de la Colombière, a stage that will certainly weed out the principle contenders as the first real mountain test, followed by the first mountaintop finish of the race at Tignes on Sunday, July 4 — a stage featuring five categorised climbs and immediately preceding the first rest day.

After that rest day lies the most brutal stage of this year’s race, stage 11‘s double ascent of the imposing moonscape of Mont Ventoux.

It is unprecedented for the race to climb the Giant of Provence twice in a race, let alone a single stage, so this will be one to set your alarm for on Wednesday, July 7.

The race then shifts to five days in the Pyrenees, culminating in mountaintop finishes on stage 17 and 18.

Stage 17, on Wednesday June 14, finishes on the 16km-long Col du Portet, while Thursday’s stage sees the riders first climb the 17km-long Col du Tourmalet and the 13km Luz Ardiden.

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