What is The Tour 21? Equivalent of riding up Mount Everest six times.

What’s it all about?

Most people worldwide have at least heard of the Tour De France and know that it is a bike race.

It’s a bit more than that, and in 2024, the route will be the equivalent of riding up Mount Everest six times.

The Tour De France

It was first organised in 1903 to increase sales for the newspaper L’Auto and has been held annually since, except when stopped for the two World Wars. As the Tour gained prominence and popularity, the race was lengthened and gained more international participation. 

Traditionally, the bulk of the race is held in July. Furthermore, though the route changes each year, the race format stays the same and includes time trials, passage through the mountain chains of the Pyrenees and the Alps, and (except in 2024) a finish on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The modern editions of the Tour de France consist of 21 day-long stages over 23 or 24 days, covering approximately 3,500 kilometres (2,200 mi). The race alternates between clockwise and counterclockwise circuits.

The Tour 21 – The beginning

We should probably take the time to examine what The Tour 21 entails and how it came into existence.

A year after retiring from professional football, ex-Crystal Palace legend and England international Geoff Thomas was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. Thanks to the fantastic efforts of his incredible medical team, Geoff survived and went on to make a full recovery.

Credit: Action Images

Like many survivors in his position, Geoff was overcome with the urge to repay the team of professionals credited with saving his life. It couldn’t just be any old challenge; it had to be something spectacular. That, and a chance comment from a friend, led Geoff to undertake an endurance challenge quite unlike any other. 

To ride the same route, the professionals would face in that year’s Tour De France.

And Tour 21 was born. The rest, as they say, is history. In the beginning, the event was limited to cyclists from the UK. People from all walks of life who had either lost someone to this terrible disease or had previously been struck down themselves.

However, with USA media broadcaster NBC Sports’ involvement since 2021, people from across the pond have participated in the last few editions.

All with their reasons for wanting to raise monies for a Cure Leukaemia charity that annually funds pioneering trials and research into life-saving treatment in the ongoing battle against blood cancer.

Geoff is preparing for one of his many TDF rides.

Geoff has gone on to raise millions for Cure leukaemia. Now, that is a legacy.

Superheroes don’t always wear capes.

Sometimes, they wear lycra.

*Interesting fact – Geoff and I played together eight times at Rochdale Football Club.

Tour 21 – 2024 edition.

In 2020, Cure Leukaemia was named the UK’s first Official Charity Partner of the Tour de France.

Set over 21 days, the event has recently been christened the Tour 21 and takes place over three weeks and a week before the world’s most iconic multi-stage race.

Moreover, in 2024, the Tour has been especially cruel. Someone in the TDF office was having a bad day when putting it all together.

To illustrate, Mark Cavendish, who will hopefully become the winningest rider in TDF history this year, says, “It might be the hardest route I’ve ever seen on the Tour De France” You have to take note when someone of that magnitude makes those sorts of comments. And, in my case, then start to panic.

To begin with, Tour 21 starts in Florence, Italy, on Saturday, June 22 and ends three weeks later in Nice on Sunday, July 14. It is the first time the Tour starts in Italy, and the first time it finishes in Nice to avoid the preparations for the 2024 Paris Olympics Games.

As a result, the world’s most significant race route covers 3,492km (2,170 miles) with some 52,320 metres (171,653 ft) of overall elevation, the equivalent of riding up Mount Everest six times. It passes through four nations – Italy, San Marino, France, and Monaco.

I wish I had not converted it to miles and feet. OMG!!

The Tour will enter the Alps as early as the fourth stage and return for the last few stages before a hilly individual time trial between Monaco and Nice on the final stage. Who wouldn’t want to start a time trial in Monaco? It’s not like there is anything else to do.

The race will visit the Pyrenees, with stage 14 crossing the Col du Tourmalet and the Hourquette d’Ancizan.

and the next day

Stage 15 tackling just shy of 5,000m (16,400 ft) of climbing across the Col de Peyresourde, Portet d’Aspet and Col d’Agnes. Oh, and it’s 198km (123 miles). Just saying!!

There’s no need to worry about sleeping that night.

This year’s route is regarded as the toughest ever.

The Route and Schedule

1305/07/2024FRIDAY FLAT171106AGEN > PAU
1912/07/2024FRIDAY MOUNTAIN14590EMBRUN > ISOLA 2000
    166103Average per riding day


This is not a cycling holiday.

Stage 19: The Col de la Bonette is one of the most famous roads in the Alps because it is, at 2807M (9,209ft), the highest road in Europe.

There is no yellow jersey for our group. No polka dot jersey for King of the Mountains or any other awards.

We don’t get to do a bit of a stage or one stage and take our time, have a few beers, relax, and then try another stage, route or hill when it takes our fancy.

There is a schedule!!

Specifically, we ride the same route as the professionals who start a week later in the same sequence. Our Stages 1 through 21 are the same, as are the rest days.

We will be slower and spend more time in the saddle and on the road. This also means we have less recovery time.

When I looked at the route, notwithstanding most people’s comments that this was the ‘toughest ever’, I glanced at the wine regions and thought how nice. Then, reality slapped me across the face, and I realised how hard hit it would be. Make no mistake; this is going to hurt.

As a result, the next time I have alcohol will be the final day when we have finished; until then, ZERO. I must give myself every opportunity to finish this and raise the £1M. After all, this is why we are all doing this.

Remember, we are not professionals; of equal importance is that some riders, like me, had never ridden on the road until January this year.

There is no yellow jersey for our group. No polka dot jersey for King of the Mountains or any other awards.

Just the knowledge that we are doing something extraordinary to help raise funds to CURE LEUKAEMIA. That’s enough for me and all the riders.

Please donate:

I expect plenty of blood, sweat and tears.

Lastly,  what the Tour calls hilly, we would call bloody steep, so what will the mountains be like? I am trying not to overthink about it.

Don’t get me started on the altitude. I will save that for another blog.

Related articles

What A Wattbike!!

Training is hard. For an experienced cyclist, training is hard. So, you can imagine how hard it is for a non-cyclist. Doing it without the

Read More