Dubai: UAE Team Emirates champion Tadej Pogacar can’t wait to go through with his early preparatory schedule before he gears up for a successful defence of his crown at the 2021 Tour de France next year.
The route for the 108th edition of cycling’s first Major of the season was unveiled earlier this week during a special edition of the French sports show ‘Stade 2’.
The 108th edition of the race – scheduled to be run from June 26 to July 18 due to the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympics - features a double-Mont Ventoux stage at its centrepiece making this the first time for the racers to climb ‘The Giant of Provence’ twice in one day. (The Mont Ventoux – a mythical mountain that is also called The Giant of Provence - is part of the Alps and oversees Vaucluse, Drome and the Rhone Valley.)
Next year’s race has also added more individual time-trialling distance after several years of favouring climbing prowess. For example, the 2020 route included a mere 36.2km of time trialling, while 2019 saw 54.8km against the clock, including a 27.6km team test.
All in all, the 58km of time trialling in the 2021 Tour de France is the most since 2013, and the first time since 2017 that the race has included two time trials.
“It’s an interesting route. It’s more of a classic Tour de France route than the last few years. The first week in Bretagne should be exciting with the chance of crosswinds and bad weather and then the time trial, which hopefully should suit me well,” Pogacar told the team’s website.
“Then it heads to the Alps where they’ll be very tough stages – Mont Ventoux twice in one day will be a legendary stage,” he added.
Pogacar turned the entire cycling world upside down earlier this year when he overturned a huge time deficit to overhaul fellow Slovenian rider Primoz Roglic on the individual time trial on the penultimate stage of the Tour de France.
The rider, who turned 22 one day after his greatest cycling achievement, not only became the overall winner, but also secured the young rider and mountain classification accolades. Pogacar is the first Slovenian winner and at 21, he also became the second youngest winner of the Tour de France after Henri Cornet’s win in 1904.
Pogacar was willing to face tougher challenges on the tour next year. “A couple of days have more than 4,500 metres of climbing, so there will be some very hard days,” Pogacar noted.
“The stages in the Pyrenees suit me well also, and I know those roads also from the Vuelta last year. There are just three mountain top finishes. Ideally, I would have liked a few more, but regardless I expect exciting racing as always at the Tour,” he added.
Brittany, the cultural region in the west of France, will host the Grand Départ, with Brest hosting Stage 1 before three further stages in the region, including a hilltop finish at Mûr-de-Bretagne. The day will also feature La Course by le Tour de France, with the women also finishing on the steep wall.