July 01, 2021
With almost a third of the 2021 Tour de France stages in the bag, there’s been no shortage of drama, discussion, and extraordinary moments to recap. Starting in Brittany on June 26th, The Grand Depart of the 2021 Tour began with 184 riders at the first stage in Brest moving across the west coast of France.
Stage 1 winner:
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
Stage 2 winner:
Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix)
These first two hilly stages, from Brest to Landerneau and then from Perros-Guirec to Mûr-de-Bretagne Guerlédan were followed by flat sprinting stages from Lorient to Pontivy and from Redon to Fougères.
Stage 3 winner:
Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix)
Stage 4 winner:
Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quickstep)
The fifth stage, from Changè to Laval Espace Mayenne was the first of two-time trials in this year's tour, making it also one of the shorter stages at a total distance of 27.2KM. The sixth and most recent stage spanned from Tours to Châteauroux as the tour headed southwest towards the heart of the country for stage 7.
Stage 5 winner:
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)
Stage 6 winner:
Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quickstep)
Despite a rider's or team's best efforts to avoid a crash, at times, it’s truly inescapable. The 2021 tour has proved no different with big names, like Peter Sagan -- who is no stranger to aggressive riding, going down early. As a recap, here are some of the dramatic crashes that we have witnessed thus far.
It’s difficult to say with so much riding left, however, perhaps the most controversial crash thus far involved dozens of riders going down at the hand of a 30-year-old woman holding a sign who jumped in front of the peloton riders 45 kilometers from the finish of the first stage. The puzzling cardboard sign in question read 'ALLEZ OPI-OMI !' in French and German, which translates to Go Grandma and Grandpa. The sign came in contact with the German rider Tony Martin, who was near the head of the pack when he fell, leading to the subsequent crash of dozens of riders behind him. While there was much controversy as to the proposed consequences, the Tour de France and the ASO have reportedly dropped the charges and subsequent lawsuit against the German fan.
Of the top contenders for this year's green jersey, Peter Sagan is one of a few that fell at the hand of aggressive and frantic early riding. In the final sprint of the 3rd stage, Caleb Ewan and Sagan were battling inch for inch when Ewan’s front wheel slid from under him on the final turn. Both Sagan and Ewan, who won two stages last year, went down, however, Ewan got the worst of it, abandoning the three-week race with a broken right collarbone.
While no rider is exempt or invincible from the trials and unforeseeable challenges of the tour, the defending champion, Tadej Pogačar, looks to be in control thus far. As a favorite young rider and a major contender for victory, Pogacar is in good shape after the first 6 stages. This is not to say that injuries sustained by Primož Roglič and Geraint Thomas during stage 3 helped the contending teams, Jumbo-Visma or Ineos Grenadiers’ get ahead, now sitting 1:48 and 1:54 respectively behind Pogačar. With so much unpredictable riding left, it's difficult to make any solid assumptions, but Tadej Pogačar has already shown that he has what it takes to win.
It might be early on in the Tour, however, it’s become clear, especially in recent stages, that #cavsback. As one of the more experienced riders in this year's race, the Brit Mark Cavendish has shown no signs of slowing down, taking the sprint win on stage 6, his second stage victory of the race and 50th of his career at a Grand Tour. The former road world champion has never lost a Tour finish in Châteauroux, winning in 2008 and 2011. As one of the best sprinters on the Tour, the former world champion is likely the man to beat this year. As the current leader of the points classification, he will have to remain dedicated and relentless in the sprinting stages and major climbs during the second week of the race if he hopes to continue his early successes.
July 30, 2021
July 22, 2021