Tour de France 2021: Want to get started but don’t know where to start? Let yourself be guided by our checklist
As if Euro 2020 and the upcoming Wimbledon tournament weren’t enough, there is another major sporting event about to compete for your attention: the Tour de France.
This grueling cycling extravaganza spans 23 days, with some of the world’s best athletes scaling gigantic hills and sprinting at almost unfathomable speeds.
If you are new to competitive cycling, now is a great time to get started. Here’s what you need to know …
What is the route this year?
The race always ends in Paris, with cyclists cruising the iconic Champs-Elysées towards the finish line.
However, it starts each year in a new direction – you may remember the 2014 Tour starting in Leeds and crossing the Yorkshire Hills. The 2021 race will be mainly contained in France and will start in Brest, Brittany. The only time runners will leave France is a brief excursion to Andorra.
How long is it?
The Tour will start on June 26 and end on July 18. It is known as one of the most physically demanding competitions in the world, and this year the runners will cover almost 3,500 km.
Each day is known as a “stage” – there are 21 stages in total, with runners having only two days of rest for the entire race.
Who is in competition?
A total of 184 cyclists will compete in 23 teams. FYI: The teams don’t have the catchiest names – they’re sponsored by big companies like “Ineos Grenadiers” and “Movistar Team”.
Tadej Pogacar was the winner of the 2020 clash with UAE Team Emirates – it was his first Tour appearance – and he will be back to defend the title.
Primoz Roglic finished very closely second in 2020 so he will certainly be one to watch as he tries his luck again. Other big names to watch are Geraint Thomas (at the head of the Ineos Grenadiers team) and Richie Porte, the thrilling Australian rider who finished third in 2020.
Chris Froome will return to the competition for the first time since his crash in 2019 – experts aren’t entirely convinced he’ll take the win for the fifth time, but it will still be exciting to see how he performs.
What do the different colored jerseys mean?
The riders wear their team tops, but at the end of each stage some performing players are given a colored jersey.
The yellow jersey is given to the leader of the race (the rider who finished the stage the fastest), the green is for the best sprinter, the white is for the best youngster (25 years and under), and the red pea and white is for the “king of the mountain” – the runner who first reaches the top of a hill.
Although an individual rider wins the Tour de France – the athlete who wins the yellow jersey – it is the culmination of a team effort, and his teammates help him reach the finish line.
What is the key lingo to learn?
platoon: No, this is not a home spin bike. Instead, it’s a large group of riders huddled together – it’s a way to conserve energy (we’ll talk about that later).
Break away: This is an individual or a group of runners who walked away from the peloton and ran ahead. As you can probably imagine, this takes a huge amount of energy and will therefore be strategically planned during the day.
Slipstream: If you ride right behind another rider, you are in their “wake” – this makes it easier for you, as you are pedaling with less air resistance. This is why the runners start as a peloton – so only the leading athletes have to fight against the resistance of the air.
Domestic: They are the support riders of a team – they help the number one rider to lead the field.
Against the watch : There are two days of individual time trials in this year’s Tour. It’s basically a solo sprint against the clock – there’s no strategy or squad, just runners trying to go as fast as they can. This adds up to your overall time, so the less minutes you complete it, the better off you’ll be.