An evening sprint where a lot of sprinters who have not won a sprint so far get their last chance.
Stage 20 Review: it was Pole position with Maciej Bodnar and Michał Kwiatkowski going first and second with Chris Froome in third place. Froome has yet to win a race this year but is now on the brink of winning the Tour de France. Elsewhere Rigoberto Urán made the top-10 but the real tension of the day was between Romain Bardet and Mikel Landa. The Frenchman was on a bad day and it showed, he seemed to be stalling on the climb to Notre Dame and with legs like that he struggled to get a big gear going. With a kilometre to go it was clear his podium finish was in jeopardy but he saved it for one second. There was one other change in the top-10 as Alberto Contador climbed up to ninth place at Warren Barguil’s expense.
The Route: a morning flight from Marseille to Paris and Orly airport, then the stage starts in nearby Montgeron just where the inaugural Tour de France started in 1903. There’s a 48km procession around the dormitory towns outside Paris and time for the ritual photo opportunities before they ride into Paris and 58km around the now usual Champs Elysées-Tuileries circuit. As ever there’s a slight rise to the Champs Elysées and it’s cobbled, the urban variety of pavé but enough to make it that bit harder. After weeks touring rural France here is the capital’s seal of approval, a finish fit for a visiting head of state.
The Contenders: a lot of sprinters and none of them have won a sprint so far. André Greipel won last year and could pop up again but is without his trusted leadout rider Marcel Sieberg now. Michael Matthews (Team Subweb) can win and his leadout Nikias Arndt is in roaring form. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) must be extra confident now.
Next there’s a second wave of contenders, a list of riders capable of winning but but they have had problems in this Tour. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) has been ill and on antibiotics but over that and getting faster, on his day he can beat the best in the World Tour. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) is sore from a crash and hasn’t shown us what he’s capable of this Tour. Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto-Jumbo) is 24 years old and on the up but yet to win a sprint in the World Tour. John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) is the wildcard pick, often out of the sprint but equally capable of the win.
FAQ: Can Mikel Landa pip Romain Bardet? Yes, for all the antics this is still a race and there are time bonuses. In 2005 Alexander Vinokourov attacked, won the stage and moved up to fifth overall, an example that it can be done. But Landa has his work cut out to win a time bonus, he and his team can hope Bardet is caught on the wrong side of a split but even that is hard to do and unlikely.
|André Greipel, EBH, Matthews
|Nacer Bouhanni, Dylan Groenewegen
Weather: sunshine and clouds and the possibility of a rain shower. A top temperature of 22°C. Note if it rains then the rules allow for the finishing times of the race to be taken on the time of the first passage across the Champs Elysées finish line.
TV: live from the start at 16.40pm CET with the finish forecast for 19.20pm CET. Tune in for the final half an hour as the speed picks up and the sprint approaches.