Pedal into history! Tour de France kicks off in Bilbao

Pedal into history! Tour de France kicks off in Bilbao

As the grey skies emerged over Bilbao, an excited murmur filled the air on Saturday heralding the start of the Tour de France. The streets were adorned with throngs of people in regional Basque flags and Tour de France logos, eagerly awaiting 176 riders that were set to embark on a 3,404km journey to Paris.

As defending champion Jonas Vingegaard and his key rival, Tadej Pogacar, crossed the starting line outside San Mames stadium of football club Athletic Bilbao, thousands of fans were already en-route to witness their heroes. Designed to be similar to one of the one-day classics, this route was brimming with rolling green hills.

Adding to the festivities, the Popularity Caravan took to the streets offering free hats and t-shirts as well as providing a glimpse of the cyclists. French star Thibaut Pinot expressed: “There’s a great fervour for cycling among the Basques,” – and it was easy to feel it in the air.

This year’s Tour de France promises to be just as enthralling and captivating as ever – stay tuned for more updates!

The Tour de France returns for its 110th edition with an exciting route heavy on mountains and two clear favourites, Jumbo-Visma’s Vingegaard and UAE Team Emirates rider Pogacar.

Stage nine is a particularly interesting challenge, taking place on an inactive volcano. On the mountain stages, Vingegaard has already had success against the two-time champion; but despite the odds, Pogacar remains a formidable opponent, bolstered by new addition Adam Yates and determined to overcome his niggling wrist injury. On Thursday he put any doubts about his fitness to bed when he pulled off a wheelie up a mountain during training.


The opening stage in Bilbao is sure to be exciting as it presents an opportunity for one-day specialists such as Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe. However, safety precautions will no doubt be taken – this has been emphasised after the tragic death of Swiss rider Gino Maeder following a crash on a downhill run during the Tour of Switzerland last month.

It promises to be an intriguing race as old rivals face off against each other and the contenders take on some of the toughest terrain Europe has to offer.

The Tour de France promises to be as thrilling and captivating as ever this year. With 96 traffic-slowing road bumps on the first stage, cyclists must maintain their concentration when navigating the downhill sections – some of which may have gravel making them even more treacherous. As the peloton moves through France over the next few stages, they will also get to experience two stages in the picturesque Pyrenees as well as the panoramic view of the tectonic fault line from the dormant volcano at Puy de Dome. Things are set to become especially exciting during Stage 17, which climbs four peaks, culminating in its final climb to Courchevel where 2019 champion Egan Bernal could deliver a late challenge.

This year’s Tour is also full of intriguing subplots. Biniam Girmay has a great chance of becoming the first black African to win a stage of the race; an achievement that would certainly create history. Thus, spectators should brace themselves for a stunning display of athleticism and courage that is sure to make 2021’s edition of the Tour an extraordinary one.

A major milestone is in store for 23-year-old Belgian cyclist Femke van den Driessche, leader of Intermarche-Wanty. Meanwhile, British cycling veteran Mark Cavendish races towards a historic victory – a chance to break the all-time record of Eddy Merckx with his 35th Tour de France stage win.

The competition will reach its grand finale on the 23rd of July with the traditional mass bunch sprint on the cobbled Champs-Elysees beneath the iconic Arc de Triomphe. Taking a departure from tradition in 2024, however, the finish line will be set in Nice due to coinciding Parisian Olympic Games.

Will they make it? We’ll have to wait and see!

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