The 1.91 kilometer (1.18 mile) Ventoux is an intimidating trek known for its barren, lunar landscape when exhausted riders finally reach the summit. In stage 11 of 21, the riders will face the Ventoux from two different entry points for the first time before a long descent to the finish line.
Race director Christian Prudhomme announced the route on national television on Sunday. The June 26-July 18 edition begins a week earlier than usual so as not to clash with next year’s Tokyo Olympics and the European Football Championship, both postponed this year to due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2021 tour was originally scheduled to start from the city of Copenhagen, with Denmark hosting its very first departure. But Copenhagen has been pushed back to 2022 because of the pandemic.
Instead, the race begins in the Breton town of Brest and includes two individual time trials – one on stage 5 and the other on the penultimate day.
The course is less mountainous than this year’s course and is considered more user-friendly for sprinters and in particular for time trial specialists, with 58 kilometers (36 miles) of clock races the highest for several years. .
Nevertheless, there are strong climbs to be done in the Pyrenees.
Stage 17 is arguably the most difficult, with the Col de Peyresourde and another difficult climb up Val Louron-Azet before finishing the Col du Portet – a scary 16-kilometer slog with an 8.7% gradient.
Stage 18 has two other iconic passes with Col du Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden, both well known and respected in the history of the Tour.
The race also has its longest stage in 21 years – a 248-kilometer (154-mile) hilly course from Vierzon to Creusot in eastern France.