How Long is the Tour de France?

The Tour de France has changed dramatically since the first edition in 1903. We examine how the length and speed of the Tour de France has evolved with time.

The Tour de France takes place across 21 stages. The riders are given two rest days, which means the total length of the Tour de France is 23 days. In 2021, the two rest days take place after stages 9 and 15.

The distance of each stage can range dramatically. In the 2021 route, the shortest road stage is 108km, while the longest stage is a whopping 249 kilometres.

Individual time-trials are much shorter than the other stages. At the 2021 race, the two time-trials are much shorter than the other stages at 27.2km and 30.8km each.

Tour de France 2021 Guide

How far is the 2021 Tour de France in kilometres and miles?

The 21 stages of racing add up to a total of 3,414 kilometres which is equal to 2,122 miles. That’s the same as travelling from Champs-Élysées to the ancient city of Pompeii in Southern Italy, and back again.

The riders won’t be heading to Southern Italy, much as that would be quite the spectacle, they’ll instead get underway in Brittany which is located in the north-east corner of France. They’ll then head through the centre of France towards the Alps which they’ll reach by stage 8. The race then loops back in a clockwise direction to Southern France, where the race will reach the Pyrenees. That is where we’ll see the battle for the yellow jersey, before heading back to Paris for the famous finish on Champs-Élysées.

Tour de France 2021 Map

Tour de France 2021 Route Map

The Tour de France has been a very similar distance in recent years. In 2020, the race was 3,484 kilometres, in 2019 it was 3,366 kilometres whilst in 2018 it was 3,351 kilometres. Race organisers ASO have seemingly found a happy medium between making the race long and challenging, but also ensuring it is within the rider's limits to produce exciting, lively racing throughout.

The Tour de France now holds a very different format to when it was first introduced over 100 years ago. The first edition of the Tour de France, held in 1903, was shorter in total than the modern race, totalling under 2,500 kilometres. However, the race took place over just six stages, meaning each stage averaged around 400 kilometres which is extraordinarily long when compared to modern stages.

Tour de France Distance Over Previous 10 Editions

  • 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
  • Tour de France 2011: 3,430 kilometres / 2,131 miles

What is the average speed of the Tour de France?

Tadej PogacarImage credit: Alex Broadway/SWPix/ASO

The speed of the Tour de France has also changed dramatically since the Tour was first raced in the early 20th century. Riders now have a plethora of science and technology available to them to optimise methods of training, while the quality of apparel worn by riders has also improved with time.

The winner of the inaugural Tour de France Maurice Garin averaged 25.7 kph, but the slowest Tour de France ever took place in 1919. The edition was the first to follow the first World War and the winner averaged just 24 kilometres per hour. Incidentally, just ten riders finished the race, which remains the fewest number of riders to finish a Tour de France.

At the modern day Tour de France, the victorious rider usually averages around 39-41kph. In 2017, Chris Froome won the Tour de France whilst averaging 41kph which is the fastest average speed over the previous ten years. Tadej Pogačar averaged 39.9 kilometres per hour en route to his 2020 win.

The slight changes in speed tell us more about the route rather than the winning rider’s ability. In 2017, the race featured just three summit finishes (stages which conclude at a mountain peak), but the 2020 route boasted five summit finishes.

Tour de France Average Speed Over Previous 10 Years

  • 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