The 2021 Tour de France has been run and won. Over three weeks, across the breadth of the nation, there have been crashes and controversy, fairytale returns and failures to launch. It has been – as it always is – cycling’s finest spectacle.
For all of those 21 stages – plus a few rest days along the way – husband and wife photographer team Jered and Ashley Gruber have been snapping away, their photography blurring the lines between cycling and art.
We’ve gone through and cherrypicked a few favourites from each stage. Some that tell the story of the race, some that tell the story of what it is to be waiting for the race on the side of a road, and some that tell the story of France.
Fire up a big screen and luxuriate in this one.
The Tour began on the winding roads of Brittany, way back in June.
Lachlan Morton was there to wave the peloton goodbye, but had a race of his own to get on with. Here he is, checking out the size of a promotional t-shirt.
From bitter personal experience: they’re size L. All of them are size L. Even if you yourself are a size L – which Lachlan Morton certainly isn’t – don’t expect it to fit.
A breakaway enters the Grubers’ frame, framed by a window frame.
CyclingTips readers have long known where the magic happens. This is how a different type of magic happens.
Julian Alaphilippe opened his account on stage 1 with an emotional victory, with generational ripples spreading back to last year and into the future.
A mischievous old boy who certainly looks like he’s got some cherry pips to spit and an umbrella to aim at.
On stage 2, Mathieu van der Poel soloed to an emotional stage win of his own …
… and a yellow jersey, as a Groupama-FDJ rider covetously looked on.
Yes, yes, ‘France’, we get it.
The peloton winds over an estuary, chased by angry skies.
I have questions for the architect of this structure. Key themes of discussion I would like to flag are the cascading steps, the window to door proportion, and the little subterranean chamber of secrets.
Mark Cavendish roared his way back to the forefront of international cycling on stage four, with his first Tour win in five years. Here he is at the exact instant he knew he had it.
The emotion was obvious, with Cav’s return going on to be one of the defining stories of the race over the coming weeks.
TotalEnergies (foreground) and Total Energy (background).
Défense du maillot jaune de Mathieu van der Poel.
Cavendish waits in the wings after picking up a second stage win on stage 6.
From the blustery coast of Brittany to the verdant interior of France, the peloton approached the first climbing stages of the Tour.
Specators worshipping at the altar of cycling.
Matej Mohorič slipped away with a crafty stage win, thoroughly impressing two-thirds of visible spectators.
On stage 8, the weather was – charitably – a bit shit.
A big dam wall and some little lycra-clad cyclists.
As the Tour met the mountains, Tadej Pogačar was in search of yellow …
… while Australia’s Ben O’Connor held on for an impressive stage win in Tignes.
Perks of the job: copping a wet flag to the face.
After a rest day, the race resumed with a flat stage for the sprinters, taking in some big arches along the way.
Cavendish again took the win – his third of the race – with Wout van Aert in second.
A day later, the peloton faced a double dose of Mont Ventoux. Julian Alaphilippe was in an early move …
… as was Wout van Aert, who got clear on the second ascent, experienced newfound depths of suffering on the way to the summit (pictured), and eventually held on for a stunning stage win.