The worst tour of the 21st century

The national peloton signs the third consecutive edition without stage victories and with Enric Mas, sixth, and Pello Bilbao, ninth, as the best classified.


Spain participated with 17 riders in the 2021 edition of the Tour, the same number as in 2020 and only behind France (33) and Belgium (22), the countries with the highest representation. With only one team on the World Tour, Movistar, the figure is not so bad in quantity, but it is in quality. Because the national cyclists have not won since Omar Fraile prevailed in Mende, on July 21, 2018. Three Tours without victories (in this triennium, 19 different nations added partial, nine in 2021), and in the last five only counts that solitary success of the Basque. A target, the same as countries without tradition, such as Austria, Kazakhstan or South Africa. 2013, 2014 and 2017 also went blank in the 21st century.

Enric Mas occupied sixth place overall, while Pello Bilbao finished ninth. The Spaniard coveted the box and dropped one place compared to 2020, and the Biscayan signed his first top-ten in the Grande Boucle. "As far as possible, well, not to feel very satisfied," they both consoled each other. The podium has not been reached since 2015, when Alejandro Valverde (the oldest of the race, at 41 years old) finished third. The Murcian, Ion Izagirre and Imanol Erviti were the ones who came closest to the partial victory, seconds in the finish line after starring in escapes, not in a direct fight with the best. Like Mas and Bilbao, several steps below the favorites.

Less in 2016, with Valverde sixth, Mikel Landa has the honor of the most regular man, with two fourth positions (2017 and 2020), one sixth (2019) and one seventh (2018), although far from the fight for the jersey yellow. Only in 2018 (that seventh from Alava), the first Spaniard finished behind a sixth place that became the top in the aforementioned 2019 and 2016, and 2012 (Haimar Zubeldia) and 2004 (Paco Mancebo). Not even the minor consolation of the squad classification emerged, which Movistar scored consecutively five times between 2015 and 2020.

Six national riders had never competed in the French round. Three, under the age of 30: Alex Aranburu (Astana, 25), Cristian Rodríguez (TotalEnergies, 26) and Jorge Arcas (Movistar, 28). Three others, in their thirties: Rubén Fernández (Cofidis, 30), Carlos Barbero (Qhubeka, 30) and Víctor de la Parte (TotalEnergies, 35). Debuting at such advanced ages is not usually the norm, and above all in an increasingly precocious cycling. Juan Ayuso, at 18, and Carlos Rodríguez, 20, already appear in the UAE and Ineos, but the Spanish squad is getting old, the level does not reach and the relief of the Contador, Freire, Purito or Valverde does not take off or stagnates. 2021 is the worst Tour of the 21st century, without victories and by positions. The second worst was signed at the Giro. There is a crisis.

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