2021 Tour de France

The 2021 Tour de France's Two Time Trials Are The Key To The Yellow Jersey

The 2021 Tour de France's Two Time Trials Are The Key To The Yellow Jersey

FloBikes analyzes the two individual time trials that could have a major impact in the race for the yellow jersey.

May 18, 2021 by Rebecca Reza
The 2021 Tour de France's Two Time Trials Are The Key To The Yellow Jersey

Races have been won and lost in the race against the clock in some of the most dramatic and poetic narratives in cycling history, from Greg Lemond’s record setting 8-second winning margin over Laurent Fignon in 1989, to the gut wrenching meltdown of Primoz Roglic on the penultimate day of the 2020 Tour de France.

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While an average individual time trial may not be the most dynamic race to watch, the Tour de France is no average bike race. Individual time trials in the Tour, without fail, play key roles in the drama of the race. 

It was of course less than a year ago that Tadej Pogačar overcame what many saw as an insurmountable deficit, to overthrow Primoz Roglic on the stage 20 time trial, winning the yellow jersey by 59 seconds. Many will never forget the picture in picture scenes of Roglic's lead crumbling while the young Slovenian flew up La Planche des Belles Filles. 

Read on to discover the two time trials in the 2021 Tour de France, and how they will impact the overall race.

Stage 5: Changé – Laval, 27km

The first of the two individual time trials arrives on stage five, the first stage beyond the borders of Brittany. The first week of the Tour has not had such a long time trial since the last time the Tour departed from Brest in 2008. 

A gift to the time-trial specialists is how the race organizers describe the virtually flat course. Expectations are that a time trial specialist like Wout Van Aert or Rohan Dennis will likely win the stage, but stage five will serve to establish an early pecking order in the general classification.

Laval last hosted the Tour de France in 1999 when Deceuninck – Quick Step director sportif Tom Steels won a thrilling sprint, beating the likes of Erik Zabel and Stuart O’Grady. This year however, the results in Laval will be all about the time trial specialists and the GC hopefuls. 

Stage 20: Libourne – Saint-Emilion, 31km

The 2020 stage 20 time trial was such a hit, the Tour de France organizers planned another one for 2021. 

After a hard week in the mountains, the general classification contenders with strong time trial abilities, such as Geraint Thomas will have one final opportunity to claim the yellow jersey, while climbers, such as Nairo Quintana will fight to mitigate their losses.

Set in the prestigious vineyards of the Bordeaux region, stage 20 will make the performances to come, all the more dramatic. The course may remind racing fans of Fabian Cancellara’s win over Tony Martin in 2010, and Jan Ullrich taking victory just short of earning yellow behind Bjarne Riis in 1996. 

With only the Tour's traditional celebratory sprint stage on the Champs-Élysées to come, stage 20 is the final time the yellow jersey can change hands, and thus is potentially the most important 31 kilometers of the 2021 Tour de France.