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Tour Stage 21 Preview

The conclusion of the 2015 Tour de France, the final stage is part victory parade, part criterium. The Champs Elysées are reserved for the riders, a privilege only accorded to cyclists and visiting heads of state. In the end a sprint finish.

The Route: the start in Sèvres, a town famous for its porcelain and where they make the Coupe Omnisports prize for the winner of the Tour de France. There’s little point detailing the strategic elements except to say the race uses the full length of les champs. As ever there’s a slight rise to the road and it’s cobbled, the urban variety of pavé but enough to make it that bit harder.

  • Pointless: because we know who has won the Tour de France and half of the stage is a victory parade, a procession
  • Essential: because it crowns the victor and provides the prestigious backdrop. After weeks touring rural France here is the capital’s seal of approval

The Contenders: this would be the sprinters world championship if the sprinters were all here and in good health but there are some nuances to make us question who can win. However given several teams (Etixx-Quickstep, Katusha, Giant-Alpecin) still have a big interest in a sprint it seems likely that the stage is reserved for the sprinters.

André Greipel is the prime pick. He’s got three stage wins and each time he has won in a convincing, authoritative manner. But look at the medical bulletin above, a gonalgie or sore knee for Greipel. Another health concern is Alexander Kristoff with talk of a sore throat and he hasn’t looked too sharp all the way around France.

Mark Cavendish has been soldiering on and knows this finish perfectly but has to sprint without his leadout Mark Renshaw, Matteo Trentin is a capable replacement especially as Cavendish will be able to lecture him on the drill.

Peter Sagan and John Degenkolb seem to have equal chances, you can see a win but you can also see them in second or third place. The French are having a good third week and Arnaud Démare is the best local hope.

André Greipel
Mark Cavendish
Kristoff, Sagan, Degenkolb, Démare

Weather: Rainy with temperatures of 18˚C.

TV: live on TV from start to finish. The finish is forecast for 7.00pm Euro time.

La Course

Before then there is La Course and you can watch the women’s criterium on the Champs Elysées. Given you know the course already, for a good preview I recommend this detailed take on the contenders and pretenders by PelotonWatch.com and Ella has a good wider look at the race with context. It starts at 1.30pm and finishes at 3.30pm.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • GB Sunday, 26 July 2015, 7:15 am

    Thanks for all your write-ups over the last three weeks. I hope the increased surliness (including from myself unfortunately) hasn’t diminished your enjoyment of the blog or the race.

  • David Sunday, 26 July 2015, 8:35 am

    Thank you for the coverage of the Tour. As usual you provide a level of insight that is lacking in the mainstre media. I would love to know how you manage to get so close to the action. Keep up the good work

  • LeeW Sunday, 26 July 2015, 8:57 am

    Mr Inrng, just wanted to say a massive thankyou for all your hard work over the 3 wks especially but also through the year with superb previews, analysis and general thoughts.

    Looks like I might actually have to ride my bike for a couple of weeks before the Vuelta starts.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 26 July 2015, 9:12 am

    Chapeau to inrng for your outstanding Tour coverage!

    Might be the first time in a few days that we can go a finish without hearing P&P rattle on about “magical climbers” and Lucho Herrera.

  • Paul Davies Sunday, 26 July 2015, 9:12 am

    I’d like to add my thanks for your entertaining, interesting and insightful race coverage over the last few weeks – waking up each morning and reading the stage preview has been a real highlight.

    On another point, I find it amusing that in this Tour which has been so light on time trialling and heavy on climbing, the maillot jaune has been worn by three time triallists and (probably) the best time triallist of the GC contenders…

  • calypso_king Sunday, 26 July 2015, 9:29 am

    Brilliant writing as always inrng! I’ve particularly enjoyed the single stage reviews after the significant/insignificant action (depending on your point of view).
    I hope Sagan gets the win today, his efforts over the 3 weeks have been outstanding.

  • LeeW Sunday, 26 July 2015, 9:34 am

    I guess climbing is just a different kind flat 😉

    I’m going for Cav today, purely because he seems to do better jumping between people if his own lead out isn’t performing well. But I can’t discount Griepal because his form has been superb (and well deserved I think).

    My prediction;
    Cav (maybe by less than half a wheel)
    Griepal
    Sagan

    Chapeau to Sagan for a 4th green! The versatility and general strength is impressive I have to say.

  • Augie March Sunday, 26 July 2015, 9:43 am

    Chapeau also to Nibali, the first Tour winner since Cadel Evans to mount a full-length defence of his yellow jersey.

  • The Real JHutch Sunday, 26 July 2015, 9:43 am

    INRNG, I think I love you! Brilliant as always.

  • Charlie Sunday, 26 July 2015, 9:50 am

    Many thanks for the excellent coverage INRNG- no morning during the past three weeks has been complete without a coffee and reading your preview.

  • Jonnyd Sunday, 26 July 2015, 9:58 am

    Just wanted to say thanks for your brilliant writing, and especially over the last three weeks nonstop! Informative, funny, and really interesting all the time.
    Great stuff!

  • Mortinsky Sunday, 26 July 2015, 10:01 am

    INRN, Thank you for the past three weeks, brilliant! Keep up the good work. Regarding the tour, i think that Chris F is a worthy winner anf has to be admired for keeping it together.

  • Dai Bank Sunday, 26 July 2015, 10:10 am

    Essential reading both before and after each stage, huge thanks for the time and effort you put in.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 26 July 2015, 10:13 am

    Thanks for all the posts this past 3 weeks. Great work.
    Im in Paris this weekend for the first time and just wondered if anyone had any tips for the day. Where to watch, good cafes etcetc thanks in advance.

    • RJS Sunday, 26 July 2015, 11:10 am

      Rue de Rivoli around the 800m-1km to go point is a great spot to watch. Get there before the caravan and you should be able to get to the fence, it’s not as crowded as the Champs Elysees. On the final lap you’ll get to see the leadout trains kick into action, you can get a real sense of who’ll be contesting the sprint.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 26 July 2015, 10:14 am

    Great work over the last few weeks Inrng, excellent.
    Tomorrow marks the end of the cycling season for most of the media in the UK – thank goodness.

  • Michiel Sunday, 26 July 2015, 10:19 am

    Thx sir Inrng for the great coverage. On holiday I had the feeling to still be close to the action!

  • Den Sunday, 26 July 2015, 10:50 am

    Mr Inrng is the Maillot jaune of the pro cycling analysis and TDF coverage on the internet.

    Thank you.

  • Adam H Sunday, 26 July 2015, 11:08 am

    Just another reader adding thanks for the great posts!

  • CharlieL Sunday, 26 July 2015, 11:13 am

    Many thanks for your excellent stage previews and insight. Great coverage as ever.

  • Matt Sunday, 26 July 2015, 11:24 am

    Can’t agree more. Been nothing better than getting a coffee and starting the day at my desk reading the preview for the day. Chapeau

  • Moyeen islam Sunday, 26 July 2015, 11:36 am

    Great write up and fantastic tour coverage. Many thanks for all your efforts.

  • Dantheman Sunday, 26 July 2015, 11:49 am

    Great work inrng – how amazing to get these sort of thank yous. What a positive community on this website – the internet doesn’t need trolls.

    IMHO Froome deserves huge credit – he rode with real authority in week 1 then had a clear strategy for the first mountain stage. It worked – there is nothing accidental about his victory.

    He has been composed under fire when most of us would have said ‘doping? Go talk to Astana, then go talk to Mr Clembutarol, then go talk to Mr Valverde’.

    But he didn’t and respect to that. I don’t care if he hasn’t got the PR nous that Wiggins (on a good day) has.

    If it is about guts and intelligence then Froome is a towering champion.

  • Bodsey Sunday, 26 July 2015, 11:59 am

    Christmas in July and today feels like New Years Eve. A vintage season so far. Thank you enormeously for all your great work Mr/Mrs/Ms Rng.

  • Alastair S Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:24 pm

    Yes, many thanks Mr Rng for the excellent coverage.

    A memorable race with a deserved winner, only slightly marred by hysterical French media coverage and the behaviour of a few so-called fans.

    • Maglia Nera Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:32 pm

      +1.
      I’d also like to add my thanks. Your coverage greatly enhances the Tour for me and I’m sure for many others.

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:54 pm

      I think the reports of hysterical French media coverage could be hysterical themselves, for example this piece from Britain seems to get so carried away it trips up over basic things like getting place names wrong: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/cycling/tour-de-france/11762978/Chris-Froomes-Tour-de-France-triumph-ends-the-worst-ordeal-an-athlete-can-suffer.html

      Certainly there have been ugly scenes but TV amplifies this, you remember the moron spitting more than the million people cheering. If anything it’s not been as bad as Froome’s 2013 win where Sky ended up handing two years of power data to L’Equipe and FDJ coach Fred Grappe in a bid to diffuse the pressure or 2012 where Wiggins was swearing and barging TV camera crews. Back then even L’Equipe was doing “extraterrestrial” headlines.

      • J Evans Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:04 pm

        That’s what you get for reading Das Telegraph.
        Who won most aggressive rider? Surely Sagan. But they might have gone for Peraud, I suppose.

    • GB Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:03 pm

      I think what disappointed me about the tour polemic was that it really brought out the worse in some people, not just on the road, even to a (thankfully small) extent in these comments. I’ve seen so much nonsense generalisations about nationalities, out-of-proportion insults, sexism/homophobia popping up in said insults, fans lecturing each other, people being labelled sycophants or fanboys for having a different opinion… oy! It was like I was back on a video game board full of aggro teens for a while.

      Be excellent to each other.

      More positivity now: I’ve seen a few comments about Quintana not being that great a GC contender yet anyway, with weaknesses in descending and time trials. That actually gets me more hyped to follow him in future, to see if he can improve these and what he might be capable of. Same with ‘the great French hopes’ (though if the Giro was any indication, Pinot should probably look outside his team for descent training…………) I just hope the pressure doesn’t overwhelm them.

      • GB Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:04 pm

        Sorry that wasn’t meant to be a reply

  • Mohd Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:39 pm

    Thank you for the AMAZING three weeks coverage!

  • Canocola Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:40 pm

    Thanks again for the coverage, and for today’s links to people who can give some insight to La Course, too. Also thanks to the very many people who contribute below the line with insight, respect and occsional wit – it’s nice to be able to read something without too much rancour, partisanship, or demands that everyone believe the same twisted interpretation.

    Today’s stage is a tough one to call – you choose Greipel and look a chump when Cavendish performs as we suspect he can. You choose Cavendish and look foolish when Greipel carries on doing what he’s been doing on this Tour. You choose Sagan to finish second and everyone reckons you’re making the obvious joke…

  • J Evans Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:45 pm

    Chapeau Inner Ring – monster effort (and the only thing we readers here agree on).
    Cavendish today: he can freestyle and Greipel has knee gripe.

  • Larrick Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:46 pm

    An avalanche of adulation above that’s richly deserved. Thanks for all your efforts in keeping us all informed and entertained.

    Onto Wallonie, San Sebastian and Poland!

  • ronytominger Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:48 pm

    now i need something to battle the post tour blues. since im working quite a lot during weekdays, i had to watch the three last stages all in a constant row from friday night until saturday evening. totally oversaturated now.

  • Paddy Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:50 pm

    Excellent Inrng. Are you covering the Vuelta?

  • Worzel Sunday, 26 July 2015, 12:57 pm

    Just to throw my chapeau in to the (In)rng of thanks for the normal superlative coverage.

  • CM Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:00 pm

    Yes. Thanks INRNG for the best summations by far.

    It’s certainly been a hard Tour this year. The peleton has been out on its feet for the last few days but Quintana conserved well and gave it a good crack at least. Overall, though I think the Tour has been soured this year. On the road, Nibali got fractious when he was losing, but in my opinion that was minor compared with the abject media coverage, which pumped up negatives. It also takes but a very small minority of brain-dead to pick up on this to sully the sport with booing and spitting and urine throwing, which naturally the media then magnifies further. I agree with Dantheman; I think we should be grateful Froome is the champion, not because he is my favourite rider by any means (and his first-week nose-ring fashion statement was a big mistake) but because of his tremendous fortitude. His mental toughness is extraordinary, not only as an athlete but also in putting up with all the crap off the bike. He has handled it as a gentleman and a true champion. Cycling is lucky to have him as a figurehead of the sport at such a time of transition since his measured responses to febrile analysis, accusation, innuendo and slack reportage are consistently much better than more populist, emotional and flakey personalities might contrive. Many don’t like Froome’s lack of panache on the bike but at least you can see the effort. Quintana, who many prefer to watch, as it happens is to look at more reminiscent of the masks of men of the worst of the EPO days, though his power surges are of course much less sustainable than the inexorable hammering the dopers could keep up twenty years ago. If Froome sticks around for a while, his duels with Quintana should be something to savour in future.

    • Tricky Dicky Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:26 pm

      Got to agree with this, nicely put. Froome’s the only rider who fronted up to CIRC without claiming anonymity, asked for night-time testing, asked for testing in Tenerife, calmly dealt with the heckles from the “pseudoscience” mob, took the Kimmage interview etc etc and all the time kept his composure. Is he clean? No idea – hope so – but I applaud his character during this transition phase.

      Thanks INRNG, particularly your patience with the “heightened enthusiasm” that always seems to pervade the comments section in July (!).

      Looking forward to San Sebastián already. Who’s come out of the Tour the best? Or will it be someone cooling their heels for the last few weeks.

  • Mancuniancandidate Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:06 pm

    Thanks for all your great work over the past three weeks.

    And thanks for the tip about Hola, I’ve been watching the highlights using that, many thanks.

  • Stoneglider Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:30 pm

    Many thanks for the coverage, clear and balanced as always. If this is what ‘clean’ racing looks like, and I do believe it is, we have a great deal to look forward to in the coming years.
    As the saying goes ‘Haters gotta hate’. The rest of us enjoy life.

    • whippet Sunday, 26 July 2015, 6:22 pm

      Are you serious Stoneglider? Like a lead balloon…

      Pro cycling is entertainment. It is not hate when fans call for more entertaining races. In the end, we pay them to ride their bikes. The job of professional cyclists is not just to win races, it is to entertain. Of course, these two phenomena usually overlap, but not always. Often the Tour de France is like the American Super Bowl. Both have heaps of hype, but hype doesn’t guarantee the most entertaining sporting event. As for ‘clean’, well, the number of doping cases indicates that it is not really clean. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed cycling and watching cycling. Dirty, clean or ‘clean’. But I don’t have to admire a douchebag just because he wins ; )

      • Stoneglider Sunday, 26 July 2015, 9:02 pm

        I refer my esteemed co-corresponrdant to the final line of my previous remarks.

  • Special Eyes Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:40 pm

    I can only add my very grateful thanks to Inrng for the blog.
    I was not a reader before, but will evermore be so.
    Your writing is concise, informative, witty and your blog contributions always helpful.
    I have enjoyed this Tour very much.
    But partly because of your efforts and, in fact, reading the very interesting thoughts of others.
    Chapeau.

  • Special Eyes Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:45 pm

    To the final stage today ; has the Tour got one last twist for us all ?
    Possible rain forecast, on the mad dash around a city circuit with a greasy cobbled section…

  • Flogger Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:57 pm

    Thanks for three weeks of great Tour analysis and coverage and years of great bike blogging. Inrng is the best bike blog evah!

    Looking forward to the arrival of my Inrng jersey in a couple days via international Royal Mail. Everybody should buy one.

  • Derby Wheeler Sunday, 26 July 2015, 1:59 pm

    My “go to” source for everything TdF (and pro cycling). Brilliant writing. Thank you Inrng.

  • Alan T Sunday, 26 July 2015, 2:41 pm

    Thanks for the insight and puns.

    Watching La Course and the Champs is treacherous so it might not even be a sprint, (although admittedly it is an outside chance!)

    • MikeF Sunday, 26 July 2015, 3:18 pm

      There’s a provision in the rules for the Tour de France that they can take the final times for the GC on the first passage of the Champs Elysee if the conditions are treacherous – given the number of crashes in La Course that looks distinctly possible.

      • Anonymous Sunday, 26 July 2015, 3:36 pm

        Didn’t know that! Van den Breggen wins in a late break!

        • Alan T Sunday, 26 July 2015, 3:37 pm

          That was me!

          • Alan T Sunday, 26 July 2015, 3:39 pm

            Van der Breggen!

      • MikeF Sunday, 26 July 2015, 3:53 pm

        It’s Article 20 b) in the official rules if anyone wants to know in advance –

        http://www.letour.com/le-tour/2015/docs/TDF15_Reglement-BD.pdf

  • Jordan Sunday, 26 July 2015, 3:36 pm

    Quick question: Is it written into the rules somehow that this last stage is a procession or has it just ended up that way because its a hard stage to get away with an attack on? A pan-flat stage isn’t the best for trying to make up time but in reality Nairo is only a minute back and things are possible . . .
    Do the riders just call a truce for the day?

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 26 July 2015, 3:37 pm

      It’s not the terrain for Quintana to give Froome and Sky the slip and take back a minute. But it is still a race, I think Vinokourov used a late attack and a time bonus to move up the GC one year.

      With the wet conditions the rule cited by MikeF above could well apply.

  • Tovarishch Sunday, 26 July 2015, 3:47 pm

    Try not to cast a sour note, Inrng, but what have you done to upset my boss? The site has been blocked for the last weeks and I have had to make do with C-Cycling. Been quite fun reading it after the event though. Inrng for overall Pedluer de Charme.

    • bobmac Sunday, 26 July 2015, 4:48 pm

      +1 for the Telegraph Cycling Podcast reference – and thank you, Mr INRNG, for alerting me to their coverage over a year ago. You 4 are my daily TdF ritual: the best wit, and depth, in cycling journalism are you, Daniel, Lionel and Richard!!!!
      Thanks for all the coverage for the past 3 weeks; sad to be back to “normal” next week, I will be like a lost puppy moping around with the Tour done!

  • Tom A Sunday, 26 July 2015, 3:59 pm

    Is Greipel really injured or is that just a red herring?

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 26 July 2015, 4:12 pm

      It’s the race doctor’s report, not a Photoshop effort 😉

      • Anonymous Sunday, 26 July 2015, 5:44 pm

        It’s the Contador effect 🙂

        • bobmac Sunday, 26 July 2015, 10:28 pm

          +1! 🙂

  • Tom A Sunday, 26 July 2015, 4:15 pm

    I wasn’t questioning your judgment. Just thinking in which case of having a bet against him as he is favourite.

    Thanks for all the articles on the TdF. There are some good websites out there but yours is number one!

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 26 July 2015, 4:35 pm

      No worries, just that the bulletin is all we have to go on. He’s probably fine today, just a touch less certain.

  • Brian H Sunday, 26 July 2015, 4:20 pm

    Thanks as always for the fantastic coverage throughout this tour. The race really wouldn’t be the same without it. Chapeau!

  • Bern Sunday, 26 July 2015, 4:34 pm

    Question for the cognoscenti:
    Over the course of 3 weeks, how much advantage is derived by suffering the fewest equipment problems? Whose team employs the best mechanics? And how would we measure that? Lowest numbers of ‘mechanicals’? Seems inappropriate to consider only the marque each team uses (sponsorships and all). And luck must play a part…

    Not trying to inflame anything/anyone, but when Nibali (for example) loses a chance to pick up GC placing because he’s standing on the side of the road with a couple bidons in hand, I wonder if it’s appropriate (or supportable) to say “Sky wins in part because their bikes don’t break down”…

    Does anyone keep track of all breakdowns over the course of the tour (it only yesterday occurred to me, so apologies for my ignorance)? Could be done via reviewing all the video I s’pose. Total them up by team, compare…

    • PaulG Sunday, 26 July 2015, 4:50 pm

      Bern…now there’s a job for you in the break up to the Vuelta……?

  • bobmac Sunday, 26 July 2015, 5:11 pm

    Do the slick conditions add to or lessen the chance of a breakaway attempt? I’m thinking of the Giro’s last stage with the success of Keisse/Durbridge escape there … It seems so tempting, especially with so many eyes on this finale – or is it just bad form / contra tradition to do so?

    Are there any better known riders in their final year that may be allowed to lead the group down the Champs Elysées?

    • Foley Sunday, 26 July 2015, 9:32 pm

      Inrng mentioned Vinokourov above. It was 2005 when he won the stage from a breakaway, and moved up to 5th on GC because of bonus time for the win (main peloton finished with no time gap). Hopefully that is as controversial as the question will get, as to whether it was bad form. Vino being a creep, it is hard to judge. Certainly stealing the stage is OK, but IMO it would be totally unacceptable to threaten the podium places during the Champs stage– maybe doing it for 5th is OK. I think that’s the “tradition,” but no one knows whether it will constrain behavior if the genuine possibility arises. At the very least you would expect the team in question to announce its intentions very publicly, and they might find the entire peloton shutting them down.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 26 July 2015, 5:12 pm

    Thanks for all the hard work Inrng. Greatly appreciated.

  • Gavin Sunday, 26 July 2015, 5:30 pm

    Interesting that sky is wearing different jerseys today. Anyone remember 2010 when RadioShack wore special jerseys on the Champs stage and were forced to change. Sky must have gotten pre approval for this?

    • Anonymous Monday, 27 July 2015, 11:38 am

      I think the problem with Radioshack was a) that they didn’t permission and b) they changed into Livestrong jerseys, not Radioshack ones.

  • Tomski Sunday, 26 July 2015, 5:40 pm

    Thanks and chapeau Inrng! Chapeau also to Chris Froome and to all the other riders and team staff who made it to Paris.

    Commiserations to the spectators who thought that by booing Froome in the finish line yesterday they could influence the result. The vast majority of the rest of us thoroughly enjoyed it!

    Would love to see Cav win today for old times sake or Sagan to get the victory he deserves. ??

  • paddydunne Sunday, 26 July 2015, 8:27 pm

    Can’t really comment on the English press, but certain parts of the French media have done a good job in shoddy reporting whether written or radio/tv. Nothing unremarkable there. It’s been a great spectacle roadside, and to honest, i much prefer being on the road in the dark. I can tell you what happened in front of me on the day, after that its all just bullshit. Adam Yates to win SS. Those lads could be quite frightening in a 3-4 yrs time if there progression goes on as it has up to this time

  • Othersteve Sunday, 26 July 2015, 9:50 pm

    Inrng you are the International Ambassador of Pro Road Racing.

    Thanks for your tireless unbiased work.

  • Jon Sunday, 26 July 2015, 10:52 pm

    Actually, when Vino moved up to 5th in 2005, past Leipheimer, they also neutralised the stage. The time was taken the first time past the finish line, but with bonus seconds he passed Leipheimer. I think there were 20 seconds for winning back then.

  • hoh Monday, 27 July 2015, 12:48 am

    Thanks for the great coverage inrng. No stage is complete without reading ur review this tour !

    Thanks.

  • Michal Monday, 27 July 2015, 12:54 am

    I have enjoyed your coverage/insight/wit and also many readers comments. Thanks very much and all the best in future!

  • Andrew Monday, 27 July 2015, 4:15 pm

    Monsieur Innrg,
    I am late to this post, but better late than never! Thank you so much for your coverage and insights. A delight to follow and read, and better than the lame stream media.
    Andrew