August 5, 2021

our full presentation of the 60th edition

No cobblestones, but steep and narrow paths in the Basque hills: here is the program for this intense week which promises to be on the Tour of the Basque Country, sixtieth of the name. An event that will bring together the main protagonists of the next Grand Tours, with the top two from the last Tour de France in the headlines: the Slovenes Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar. Fireworks in sight!

The course

1st stage – Monday April 5, 2021: Bilbao> Bilbao (13.89 km – individual CLM)

The Tour of the Basque Country is renowned for its steep paths, and it starts from the first kilometers of the event, on a time trial of less than 14 kilometers through the streets of Bilbao. As soon as they leave the start area, runners will have to climb Santo Domingo Hill, an ascent of 2.4 kilometers at an average of 7.3%, with a peak at 11%. And after a long descent to the city center, a new wall at 19% in the last 500 meters will put a new stop to the pure rollers. The general classification will already be well drawn at the end of this opening stage.

The difficulty of the day:
Km 2.6: Santo Domingo (2.4 kilometers at 7.3% average)

2nd stage – Tuesday April 6, 2021: Zalla> Sestao (154.8 km)

The aperitif on the Basque slopes is plentiful. On the 2nd stage, the first listed ascent comes after nearly 80 kilometers of racing, but the peloton will experience almost no respite until the finish. After the climbs of San Cosme and Bezi, the favorites should already have a good battle on the slopes of La Asturiana, less than 20 kilometers from the finish. The start of this climb will be difficult with a wall at 14% and the first three kilometers at more than 9% on average. The summit will be less steep, but after the descent to Sestao, the riders will still have to face a wall at 13% in the last 600 meters before the finish line.

The difficulties of the day:
Km 78.5: San Cosme (4 km at 4% average)
Km 103.4: Bezi (3.8 km at 6%)
Km 140.5: La Asturiana / Peñas Negras (7.4 km at 6.5%)

Tour of the Basque Country 2021 - Profile - 2nd stage

3rd stage – Wednesday April 7, 2021: Amurrio> Laudio / Ermualde (167.7 km)

Serious things take shape on this 3rd stage with an explosive final around Laudio. The runners will have to face a first unlisted climb at 6% average, before the climbs of Malkuartu (and its passages at 14%), about ten kilometers from the finish, and Ermualde, which is the final of this step for punchers. The peloton will face a climb of more than 3 kilometers at more than 11% on average, with passages at 20% … The last 400 meters will be slightly downhill, to regain one’s senses a little after such a wall climbed.

The difficulties of the day:
Km 14.9: Altube (2.5 km at 7.3% average)
Km 65.9: La Tejera (3.5 km at 4%)
Km 158: Malkuartu (2.5 km at 6.7%)
Km 167.7: Ermualde (3.1 km at 11.1%)

Tour of the Basque Country 2021 - Profile - 3rd stage

4th stage – Thursday April 8, 2021: Vitoria-Gasteiz> Hondarribia (189.2 km)

The peloton will find well-known routes in the Basque Country. On the coast from Vitoria-Gasteiz, the riders will return to part of the route of the Clasica San Sebastián with, in the last 40 kilometers, the climbs of Jaizkibel and Erlaitz. This last ascent never exceeds 13% but remains very regular at more than 10%, throughout this long usual ascent of the region. A descent of nearly 15 kilometers is then announced to the seaside.

The difficulties of the day:
Km 55.8: Deskarga (3 km at 7.7% average)
Km 102.4: Alkiza (4.4 km to 6.2%)
Km 147.7: Jaizkibel (7.9 km to 5.5%)
Km 166.9: Erlaitz (3.8 km to 10.6%)

Tour of the Basque Country 2021 - Profile - 4th stage

5th stage – Friday April 9, 2021: Fonterrabie> Ondarroa (160.2 km)

A little calm before the final fireworks display. The runners will not chase the walls during this penultimate stage of so-called plain complaint. Admittedly, three steep climbs are announced in the second part of the race, but the summit of Urkaregi is located almost 30 kilometers from the finish. An arrival drawn in a slight descent after a small hill at 3% average at the dawn of the red flame.

The difficulties of the day:
Km 91: Mendexa (1.7 km at 7.7% average)
Km 115.3: Gontzagaraigana (2.6 km to 6.5%)
Km 131.5: Urkaregi (5 km to 4.8%)

Tour of the Basque Country 2021 - Profile - 5th stage

6th stage – Saturday April 10, 2021: Ondarroa> Arrate / Eibar (111.9 km)

The last stage of this Tour of the Basque Country is also the queen stage of the Spanish event. Over only 112 kilometers, the runners will link seven steep climbs typical of the region. From the start of the day, runners will hardly ever leave the slopes above 10%. And it will hardly ever stop until the finish. A justice of the peace is announced on the rise of Krabelin and its passages at more than 17%, before the final decision in the last ascent of the day, that of Usartza, with its peaks at 13%. The climb stops 2,400 meters from the finish line, before a slight uphill slope, followed by a descent in the last kilometer. It will therefore be necessary to resist after having attempted a puncher offensive on these terrible roads.

The difficulties of the day:
Km 4.8: Arribinieta (2.4 km at 8.8% average)
Km 12.1: Elkorrieta (2.6 km at 6.7%)
Km 23.5: Azurki (5.4 km at 7%)
Km 43.7: Elosua-Gorla (9.6 km to 5.7%)
Km 68.3: Krabelin (5 km to 9.6%)
Km 90.5: Trabakua (3.3 km to 7.1%)
Km 109.5: Usartza (4.5 km at 8.8%)

Tour of the Basque Country 2021 - Profile - 6th stage

Favorites

The hour of revenge has sounded in Basque lands. If the two men avoided each other at the start of the season, one experiencing bad luck after dominating Paris-Nice, the other linking the successes of the United Arab Emirates to Italy, Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Vism) and Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) meet in the Basque Country for a duel which announces the next brawls of the summer between the two climbers. A priori, Pogacar leaves with the status of big favorite, in view of his convincing victories in the UAE Tour and on Tirreno-Adriatico. On hiatus since then, he returns to Spain with a real aura and a team totally committed to his cause, with Rafal Majka, Valerio Conti and Rui Costa as prestigious helpers in the Basque mountains.

Primoz Roglic, for his part, arrives with more questions. Dominator over Paris-Nice (winner of three stages) before failing in the last stage following two falls, Primoz Roglic returns to competition with the hope of avoiding the bad luck. He will not be in the Basque Country with a model team, but will nevertheless have young shoots who can make a difference in the mountains like the recent winner of the Week Coppi and Bartali Jonas Vingegaard, the Norwegian Tobias Foss or the Dutch Sam Oomen.

To upset them, the INEOS Grenadiers team will obviously be the first. The British team are smiling again on the recent Tour of Catalonia after a mixed start to the season. The Briton Adam Yates hit hard, and will find Richard Carapaz at his side to help him make the Spanish double. Or go and seek victory himself. Or support the other co-leader of the British group, Tao Geoghegan Hart, back to competition after his unfortunate fall on the 4th stage of Paris-Nice. In short, the INEOS Grenadiers armada still appears as the team to be defeated on these steep roads that they appreciate and which can allow them to express their collective strength.

Adam Yates - 3rd stage UAE Tour 2021 - RCS Sport Fabio Ferrari

Used to walls, the Spaniard Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) can stand out on this Tour of the Basque Country, especially with Pello Bilbao as a co-leader and active teammate in the offensives. Dutch Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), back in the race after his victory in the Laigueglia Trophy and his second place in the Larciano GP, will find roads at his convenience in the Basque Country, and will therefore be among the favorites. Like his compatriot Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe), fifth in the last Tour of Catalonia, and arrived in the Basque Country with a real armada, alongside the winner of Paris-Nice Maximilian Schachmann and D’Emanuel Buchmann.

The outgoing winner Ion Izagirre (Astana-Premier Tech) will have a lot to do to achieve the double on the Itzulia, but will benefit from a strong team capable of upsetting the peloton, with Jakob Fuglsang, Omar friar or Alexey Lutsenko. While the Movistar team will hope to do better than in Catalonia with Enric Mas and Alejandro Valverde as the main leaders on these steep roads which they appreciate.

The Briton Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo), eighth in Catalonia, will also be expected among the best on these extreme percentages, with the Colombians Sergio Higuita and Rigoberto Uran as luxury lieutenants. Michael Woods will benefit from the same status at Israel Start-up Nation, with the Belgian Ben Hermans to support him. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) will try to regain the condition after his withdrawal from Paris-Nice, whileEsteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange), sixth overall and stage winner on the Tour of Catalonia, will want to continue its positive spiral in the Basque Country. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), James Knox (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Fabio Aru (Team Qhubeka ASSOS) or even Mikel Bizkarra (Euskaltel-Euskadi) can also hope for a place of honor on such routes.

The list of starters: click here to see the list of starters

Awards:
2011 Andreas Klöden (All)
2012 Samuel Sanchez (Esp)
2013 Nairo Quintana (Col)
2014 Alberto Contador (Esp)
2015 Joaquim Rodriguez (Esp)
2016 Alberto Contador (Esp)
2017 Alejandro Valverde (Esp)
2018 Primoz Roglic (Slo)
2019 Ion Izagirre (Esp)
2020 Edition canceled following Covid-19

Direct TV

  • Live every day from 3.30 p.m. on Eurosport 1, Eurosport Player and GCN Race Pass

Graphics and cover photo: Itzulia Basque Country – Photos: ASO / Alex Broadway and RCS Sport / La Presse / Fabio Ferrari