2021 - The best Grand Tour stages

I always like coming up with this list every year, even if it's a year like 2021 which wasn't too full of GT GC drama. No rules, list top five, top ten, just your favorite, or rank every stage in order for all I care. This is about your favorite GT stage memories of the year.

5. Vuelta a Espana - 20. Sanxenxo - Mos

Just classic "what the hell is going on" Vuelta action in a Vuelta which was a bit weak and formless overall. Docked points for Lopez illegally quitting despite full well knowing that the Movistar Netflix show had not been renewed, thus robbing us of the greatest cycling film ever made. Big points for Champoussin winning in the most French manner possible.

4. Tour de France - 7. Vierzon - Le Creusot

This is why you broadcast the whole stage. A long day promised a slow burning, highly tactical showdown in the last climbs. Instead, we got the Break of the Year causing a mad dash across the middle of France right when the race needed to shake up. It didn't shake up as much as it felt like it might have at the time, but outside of the one day races, this was about the best seven hours of viewing you could spend last year.

3. Vuelta a Espana - 17. Unquera - Lagos de Covadonga

After 16 fairly tedious stages, the Vuelta suddenly resolves the exact way people want every Grand Tour to resolve - two strong riders go on the attack and fight it out man against man. If it was more of a fight, it'd be a classic - Bernal simply didn't have it, but thank him for trying so hard that day.

2. Giro d'Italia - 20. Verbania - Valle Spluga

2021 was weak on last week GC drama but this was as close as it came to delivering. The results sheet will show this didn't change too much - what it won't show is that with Bernal showing weakness a few days ago at Sega di Ala, and his best mountain domestique nearly getting unhitched on descents, and with Caruso potentially being able to take serious time out of him in the TT- it all really did feel up in the air for a moment there. If it ended mostly status quo, that's just cycling - and Caruso got the crowning moment of his career out of it. A perfect final road stage.

1. Tour de France - 8. Oyonnax - Le Grand-Bornand

Cycling chaos at its purest. UAE, the leaders in waiting, make seemingly every tactical mistake imaginable, fail to control the race, threaten to leave their GC leader Pogacar isolated for no good reason - and then it doesn't matter one bit because Pogacar does what everyone wishes every dominant rider in living memory like Froome, Armstrong or Indurain would have done: decide that enough was enough and go on the warpath at about 30k out and crush every single rival by minutes. Sure, the GC race was over after that, but would you really rather have seen a bunch of controlled MTFs with everyone coming in within 45 seconds after the last KM of attacks?
 
I think the two Vuelta stages were better than the Tour stages, and I think the best Giro stage was stage 11 to Montalcino (but not by much).

While the GC battle was lacking in all three, it has been a good year for stages.
 
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I'm also quite in agreement. Impressive work if someone ends up rating all 63 stages :p

I think that the Cortina d'Ampezzo stage could deserve a place, even if other strong-willed people wish it a fiery death due to the course changes, but given the coverage problems, it's hard to judge.

Also, the Montalcino stage was so disappointing, so good job not putting that up there, even if it was iconic.

And this is for sure not top 5 worthy, but a shout-out to the Cullera stage of the Vuelta where Magnus Cort managed to defy all odds and somehow keep the favourites at bay. There was even some nice cross-wind racing to spice things up.
 
I'm also quite in agreement. Impressive work if someone ends up rating all 63 stages :p

I think that the Cortina d'Ampezzo stage could deserve a place, even if other strong-willed people wish it a fiery death due to the course changes, but given the coverage problems, it's hard to judge.

Also, the Montalcino stage was so disappointing, so good job not putting that up there, even if it was iconic.

And this is for sure not top 5 worthy, but a shout-out to the Cullera stage of the Vuelta where Magnus Cort managed to defy all odds and somehow keep the favourites at bay. There was even some nice cross-wind racing to spice things up.
Problem with the Cortina d'Ampezzo stage is that even if you ignore the coverage issues and outtakes, it still only had one climb and descent of action, so even being super generous I'd consider a top 5 spot ridiculous. Like what makes it even better than the Ventoux stage or even the stage where Roglic attacked and then crashed in the descent in the Vuelta?
 
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Problem with the Cortina d'Ampezzo stage is that even if you ignore the coverage issues and outtakes, it still only had one climb and descent of action, so even being super generous I'd consider a top 5 spot ridiculous. Like what makes it even better than the Ventoux stage or even the stage where Roglic attacked and then crashed in the descent in the Vuelta?
Maybe the way in which the race got blown to pieces and decided on that day could have a tiny thing to play.
 
A rather crazy thing is i probably could create a list of 5 stages from all 3 GTs involving only the Slovenians. Roglič, Pogačar, Mohorič and Tratnik. And the list wouldn't be all that far from the truth.

I will just list my winner and that is the 17th stage on La Vuelta. It had everything a winning GT stage should have. You just can't ask for more.

P.S. The "problem" with Pogačar on the Tour is he just annihilated everybody on that stage. What hence was missing is another GT rider to be involved. A rider considered to be in the top 3 in the world. If annihilation would still happen in that case. It would likely still end up being a bit problematic. Like watching Mike Tyson beating Manny Pacquiao. For being considered the best match the match really must be much closer then being considered as being an one way street. The closer the better.
 

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