2021 Tour de La Provence

Don't Call It A Warmup, Tour de la Provence Attracts Bernal, Alaphilippe

Don't Call It A Warmup, Tour de la Provence Attracts Bernal, Alaphilippe

The road season is getting longer, while the level required to contend these formerly fringe races is steadily rising.

Feb 10, 2021 by Michael Sheehan
Preview: Bernal Vs. Alaphilippe On Ventoux

Tour de la Provence is a relatively new four-day stage race in the south of France, and is defined by one key feature. That feature is of course, the Giant of Provence, Mont Ventoux.

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The race, first organized in 2016 began as a typical early season race, used primarily by the peloton as a way to sharpen its legs ahead of bigger goals to come. This tactic of racing oneself into shape however is becoming less and less a viable for the peloton in the modern era.

The road season is getting longer, stretching into October and beyond, while the level required to contend races in the early, mid and late season is steadily and consistently increasing.

Enter the queen stage of the Tour de la Provence. 

Don't Call It A Warmup Race

In 2020 the race organizers sent the peloton up Mont Ventoux for a summit finish at Chalet Reynard for the first time. The inclusion of such a monstrous climb in a February stage race would have been scoffed at a decade ago, but in 2020 Nairo Quintana recorded the fastest known time to Chalet Reynard during Tour de la Provence's third stage.

The 2021 edition will once again feature the Chalet Reynard climb on stage three, where the winner of the race will likely be decided.

Good Signs From Bernal

Nairo Quintana will not be defending his title in this year’s edition. Instead, his compatriots Egan Bernal and teammate Ivan Sosa will be the two most prominent Colombians in attendance. 

Bernal who is still recovering from a back injury which forced him to abandon the 2020 Tour De France is not expected to be on winning form in Provence. However, having just raced Etoile De Bessèges, Bernal’s eagerness to line up in Provence may be a promising sign for his season to come.

The 2020 edition provided the venue for the emergence of Aleksandr Vlasov. The young Russian won the lumpy second stage and finished second overall to Quintana. Vlasov will be flanked by a very strong Astana team this week.

World Champion Julian Alaphilippe is the headliner of Provence. Whether or not the dynamic Frenchman will target stage victories or the general classification is an ever-present question, and one that is usually not answered until the race is nearly concluded.

All questions will be answered this weekend. The racing starts Thursday, February 11th on FloBikes.