The final stage of the Tour de France is all about celebration and glory. But the centennial Tour will take the spectacle and show to a new level with a start in the Versailles palace and a finish along the Champs Elysées at sunset, a parade beyond that any visiting head of state might receive. And to top it all, the most prestigious sprint win is waiting.
Stage 20 Review
With Chris Froome’s lead certain the Semnoz still provided a huge showdown with seven out of the top-10 overall changing places in a thrilling finish.
The day’s breakaway could never pull out much of a lead and if Jens Voigt resisted, his lead melted on the final climb. The pace was so fast that the first kilometre was enough to create a lead group of just eight riders, presumably the others knew they had to ride at their tempo in order to save their place. This group then shrunk as Roman Kreuziger cracked and then Alberto Contador was out too. Chris Froome tried an attack but it was Joaquim Rodriguez who rode tempo, climbing the mountain and stepping onto the podium. Another Froome attack but he was reeled in and Quintana took flight to win the stage, smiling and celebrating as he crossed the line.
Quintana took the mountains jersey. His win in the competition was build primarily on points from Port de Pailhères, Ax-3 Domaines, Mont Ventoux, Alpe d’Huez and the Semnoz, a notable contrast to Pierre Rolland’s widespread accumulation of points ever since Corsica on smaller climbs.
And if you want to know the difference between the pros and the amateurs, Ramunas Navardauskas was the last finisher on Mont Semnoz was still faster than the winner of the Etape du Tour, the cyclo event held on the same course two weeks ago. Navardauskas has been racing almost every day for the last three weeks.
There can’t be a better start to a Tour stage than this with the départ right outside the Versailles palace and the aerial salute of the Patrouille de France. There’s no point describing the route in too much detail because it’s a parade and so strategic information isn’t important. Instead note it heads out the Chevreuse valley, the a very popular area for Parisian cyclists with its hills in an otherwise flat region. The race passes Châteaufort and a large roadside memorial to five-times Tour winner Jacques Anquetil.
You might be familiar with the Champs Elysées as a finishing circuit but this time it’s different. Normally the race does a U-turn on “the most beautiful avenue in the world” but this time the race uses the full length and turns around the Place Charles de Gaulle with its Arc de Triomphe to head back down the full length again. It’s a 7km circuit that’s cobbled and there’s a slope here, it’s not severe but it could see some riders tailed off. The riders cross the finish line 10 times and then hear the bell announcing the final lap.
After the usual clichés and photo opportunity the pace picks up for the Champs where a sprint battle awaits. Marcel Kittel seems to have been the fastest sprinter but only just and it’ll be a battle of teams and lead outs. Mark Cavendish has been consistent in Paris whilst André Greipel should not be overlooked. All three seem faster in pure speed than Peter Sagan and the other sprinters in the race.
To pre-empt any questions, yes the final stage is a race and the result is not certain until Chris Froome crosses the line. If someone wants to improve their place on the GC they can but the wide avenues of Paris mean this is near impossible.
Weather: hot and sunny all day with the thermometer reaching 33°C but with the chance of a thunderstorm breaking out in the evening.
TV: live from start to to finish. Tune in at 5.45 Euro time to see the splendour of Versailles. The middle of the stage should be without incident. The race reaches the finishing circuit just before 8.00pm with the finish planned for 9.45pm.
Rhinestone Froomedog: to add to the nocturnal celebrations, the yellow jersey tomorrow has sequins. No joke. There will also be a laser and firework show centred around the Arc de Triomphe.