The Tour de France is the pinnacle of the cycling calendar. It features 21 stages and usually includes two rest days for a total of 23 days. This year, with the Grand Départ taking place in Denmark, a further ‘transfer day’ is included to take the race total to 24 days. The race begins a day early, on Friday 1st July, to compensate for this.
How far is the 2021 Tour de France in kilometres and miles?
This 109th edition of the Tour de France covers a total distance of 3328km, or 2068 miles, making it the second longest of the three Grand Tours in 2022, with the Giro d’Italia the longest at 3410.3km (La Vuelta a Espana is the shortest at 3280.5km).
This Tour de France is shorter than last year’s edition, which totalled 3414km, and is the fourth shortest edition of the race in the modern era. The first three editions of the race totalled less than 3000km but were spread across just six gruelling stages. Following that, the Tour de France tended to be much longer, covering distances in excess of 5000km in the 1920s and regularly exceeding 4000km right up until the 1980s, when distances began to be reduced.
Now the race has found a happy medium – incorporating a variety of distances over the course of the three weeks that make for exciting and unpredictable racing, but remain within the capabilities of the modern peloton.
It’s not all about distance though. The challenges that face the riders throughout the 23 days of a Grand Tour come in myriad shapes and sizes. This year, the race begins in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, with a 13km time trial. With a further, longer time trial on Stage 20, there will be a total of 53km raced against the clock in 2022. Stage 1 will give time trial specialists the chance to fight for the yellow jersey before the remaining two stages in Denmark offer chances for the sprinters. The total distance raced in Denmark will be 394km, and the race will also enter Switzerland on stages 9 and 10, making a total of four countries visited on the 2022 route.
The race then travels to France for the remaining stages and the riders will face the cobblestones of Northern France and Belgium for the first time in four years on Stage 5 – 19.4 km of pavé, to be exact, split across 11 sectors ranging from 1.3 to 2.8 km in length.
The following day will see the longest stage of the race – Stage 6 travels through the Ardennes from Binche to Longwy across 220km, one of only two stages that total 200km or above.
Later in the race, elevation metres will be uppermost in the rider’s minds as they contend with the dramatic climbs of the Alps and Pyrenees. The race will climb a staggering total of 48,530m, with the most elevation gained on an individual stage being 4,692m on Stage 11. The highest altitude reached by the riders will be 2642m, atop the Col du Galibier, which they will have to ascend twice, once on Stage 11 and once on Stage 12.
Tour de France Distance Over Previous 10 Editions
Tour de France 2022: 3,328 kilometres / 2,068 miles
Tour de France 2021: 3,414 kilometres / 2,122 miles
Tour de France 2020: 3,484 kilometres / 2,165 miles
Tour de France 2019: 3,366 kilometres / 2,091 miles
Tour de France 2018: 3,351 kilometres / 2,082 miles
Tour de France 2017: 3,540 kilometres / 2,200 miles
Tour de France 2016: 3,529 kilometres / 2,193 miles
Tour de France 2015: 3,360 kilometres / 2,088 miles
Tour de France 2014: 3,661 kilometres / 2,275 miles
Tour de France 2013: 3,404 kilometres / 2,115 miles
Tour de France 2012: 3,497 kilometres / 2,173 miles
What is the average speed of the Tour de France?
While distances have been reduced over the years, the average speed of the riders taking part has increased dramatically.
A whole raft of improvements to equipment and apparel, alongside a host of scientific advancements in training and nutrition, have allowed professional cyclists to go faster than ever before.
The winner of the inaugural Tour de France Maurice Garin averaged 25.7 kph, but this was not the slowest Tour de France ever. The 1919 edition, the first to follow the first World War, took that dubious honour, with the winner averaging just 24 kph.
In the modern era, winning riders usually average around 40kph. In 2021, Tadej Pogačar averaged 41.2kpm on his way to victory and became the second fastest winner ever in the process. The fastest was in 2005, although this statistic is technically void as the UCI declared the races from the Armstrong era to be without winners.
The slight changes in speed in recent years may reflect the type of route rather than the winning rider’s ability. In 2020 for example, the route featured four summit finishes, with three in 2021. With five planned for 2022, we could expect a slightly lower average speed for whoever becomes the eventual victor.
Tour de France Average Speed Over Previous 10 Years
- Tour de France 2021: Tadej Pogačar – 41.2 kph
- Tour de France 2020: Tadej Pogacar - 39.9 kph
- Tour de France 2019: Egan Bernal - 40.6 kph
- Tour de France 2018: Geraint Thomas - 40.2 kph
- Tour de France 2017: Chris Froome - 41 kph
- Tour de France 2016: Chris Froome - 39.6 kph
- Tour de France 2015: Chris Froome - 39.6 kph
- Tour de France 2014: Vincenzo Nibali - 40.6 kph
- Tour de France 2013: Chris Froome - 40.5 kph
- Tour de France 2012: Bradley Wiggins - 39.8 kph
- Tour de France 2011: Cadel Evans - 39.8 kph
Cover image: ASO/Alex BROADWAY