No ceremony but plenty of buzz around 2021 Tour de France route

Paris (AFP) –


The pomp may be missing but the punch will be there when Tour de France organisers reveal the course for the 2021 edition of the race on Sunday.

Normally, the presentation masquerades as a ceremony with the great and the good of the cycling world among 4,000 people gathering in Paris for a glitzy show designed to make as big a splash as possible.

This year, inevitably, it will be different. Coronavirus, which caused a delay to the 2020 edition which only ended in Paris on September 20, has already pulled the plug on the show and this week the presentation was pushed back from Thursday to Sunday.

But it will happen. Live on national television in the early evening on Sunday and simulcasting to cycling fans around the world, tour director Christian Prudhomme will unveil the 2021 course.

It wasn't easy as certain creases in the map had to be ironed out, although the site of the 'Grand Depart', the biggest headache, was switched from Copenhagen in July.

"We finished it in mid-October," course director Thierry Gouvenou told AFP

"We were dependent on the establishment of municipal teams after the elections (end of June).

"It was tense. We did a third of the course before the start of the 2020 Tour (end of August), we rushed after the finish for the last two-thirds. But all the stages have been approved."

The Tour was scheduled to open with three stages in Denmark. After the postponement of football's European Championship, in which Copenhagen is hosting four matches, and the Tokyo Olympics until 2021, the Danish capital decided in July that it could no longer handle the 'Grand Depart'.

"We had to find another 'Grand Depart' and change a week of the Tour de France," Prudhomme recently told AFP.

And that starting point is Brest and, according to local press, four days in Britanny, seen by many as the cradle of French cycling having produced the likes of Louison Bobet and Bernard Hinault.

According to local politicians talking to the regional media, the race will head swiftly for the Alps, take in the iconic Mont Ventoux and several Pyrenean stages including Andorra, Col du Portet and Luz-Ardiden before a time trial near Libourne and Saint-Emilion, through the Bordeaux vineyards.

Prudhomme, though, has been careful not to give away too much of the course in advance.

"There is no dogma", he says while adding that the only reality is "to vary as much as possible".

For the full story, cycling fans will just have to tune in on Sunday.