Tour de France Stage 21 Preview

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.

The Route
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.

The Finish
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.

The Scenario
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.

Tour de France special yellow jersey
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.

Tour de France classifications

29 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 21 Preview”

  1. I know we still have half season ahead and even a GT soon (which btw was awesome last yr) but the end of the Tour always brings a little sadness to me. Thanks for the excellent work inrng, and everyone else for the comments and company!

    • I know what you mean because that’s how my girlfriend usually feels. For me though, whilst no one can doubt the Tour’s history and prestige, it’s usually my least favourite GT, and whilst I’ll happily sit in front of the TV watching Italy float by the screen for hours, I can’t do the same with 4+ hours of châteaux and farmers passing by on one of the seemingly endless stream of flat sprint stages they had at the beginning of this year’s Tour; too many stages deserved (and got) the last 10 minutes from me and no more. It’s definitely sad to see the end of such widespread coverage of cycling on television (in the UK at least), but then again I’m more used to cycling being a sport that isn’t widely talked about in this country, so it always feels a bit odd when people who normally watch football are talking about it all of a sudden, the same way it happens every year for two weeks with Wimbledon, when everyone becomes a tennis expert. I’m looking forward to the Vuelta as I think it might be more competitive for the overall and slightly easier to enjoy at times: I’ve really had big disagreements with some of the Tour routes for a few years now, and I think that this year we have seen good racing in spite of the route rather than because of it.

      In short, I watch the Tour because I watch all cycling races anyway and I respect this race for its past and its prestige, but I get much more enjoyment from watching the other GTs and even other smaller stage races like the Tour of Romandie or the one day classics. I watch the Tour because I think I should, but I watch other races because I’ll enjoy them.

      • A bit harsh. I thought the course was good. Great 1st week when the yellow jersery kept changing hands, and a good final week. I thought a good parcours this year.

        For many teams this is the aim for the year and their seasons revolves around it. Thus the racing is bound to be conservative and cagey

      • +1, CK, definitely +1. It’s only that you can so eloquently put it into words that never seem to deviate from the level of politeness that this historic event deserves, while I, being a non-native English speaker, while trying to formulate my opinion in this regard, always end with something sounding too harsh to be satisfied with. Thanks for voicing my thoughts so clearly 🙂

      • “seemingly endless stream of flat sprint stages they had at the beginning of this year’s Tour”

        Did we watch the same race? Or was Corsica too long ago in the memory?

        I know it’s fashionable for any half-knowledgeable cycling fan to bash the Tour for being more style than substance, especially compared to the Giro and Vuelta – and that’s often well-justified. But compare to last year: everyone feared a replay of watching the Sky mountain train nullify the competition and excitement. And whilst Froome’s coronation was pretty inevitable, what happened along the way was anything but…the “most boring” stage on paper, turned out to be one of the most exciting thanks to the crosswinds. This Tour had a lot of pleasant surprises…this year’s Giro in comparison had promise, but was, like the rest of the spring in Europe, suffered too much from the poor weather (otherwise Evans never finishes on the podium).

      • What´s the problem with people suddenly enjoying the same sport you enjoy? I think it´s great, I have found a lot of people who loves sports in general but doesn’t know a lot about cycing really interested, and finally I can answer cycling questions from my friends that are not only about doping

  2. Amid all the pomp and celebration it’s worth remembering what an important day this is for Mark Cavendish; he’s never been beaten before in Paris and, apart from his first race in 2007, has always won at least 3 stages.

  3. The sprint finish today is a truly exciting prospect. Should provide a cracking finish to what hes been, for me, a very enjoyable Tour.

  4. I’m from the US, but in London last week I had the pleasure of watching the l’Alpe d’Huez stage on EuroSport. Intelligent, knowledgeable commentary, no hype, and no commercials. What an enjoyable viewing experience, so different from the US coverage on NBC Sports! Maybe Phil and Paul are asked to “dumb down” their commentary for a (supposedly) unsophisticated US audience, but it was fun to watch a race without their blather. Pump cycling on EuroSport to the US and maybe the audience would grow.

    • No adverts? Are you sure? I’ve seen ad free coverage on Belgian TV but there’s plenty on Eurosport; admittedly not usually in the last 20k – unlike iTV4.

    • commentary on ES so much better with david harmon, missed him this year. kirby needs to…….something. sean kelly always interesting.

      ken, i agree. i can’t watch NBCSN anymore. P&P do in a pinch but the other fluff is just too much.

      it did seem ES upped the advert numbers this year. in past years i remember not being bothered by them as they seemed few and far between. maybe it’s just a perception on my part.

      • I think it because they have to show a certain amount but they try and squeeze them in before the action starts so they are a lot more frequent in the early part. I can’t understand why 75% seem to advertise Eurosport though!

    • I don’t have Eurosport so I’m stuck with ITV4 sadly with Sherwin and Liggett. I’ve lost count of the number of times Liggett has talked about ‘Richie Froome’ and he never fails to mix up Contador and Valverde. The number of mistakes this year has been terrible and I’m disappointed that ITV have stuck to ‘tradition’ rather than trying to improve their coverage.

      When so many other sports are using technology to improve coverage I find it mind boggling that cycling still sticks with the tried and tested methods which haven’t changed in years. Someone really needs to come in and shake things up because as it is coverage in the UK has stagnated. Unfortunately I think the only ones able to do this would be Sky.

  5. Wow. Read about the sequined jersey earlier, but dismissed it as a joke. Then, I just saw a photo of Sagan with a green goatee.

    Looks like it’s going to be an interesting evening.

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