The final stage of the race that’s first victory parade, then the most glamourous criterium in the world.
Stage 20 Review: an abbreviated stage and so a dash to the final climb of the Tour. Vincenzo Nibali got in the breakaway and led the charge with Ilnur Zakarin, Pierre-Luc Périchon, Tony Gallopin and Michael Woods and then went solo. Jumbo-Visma got to work with 25km to go and had George Bennett pulling like there was 5km left, this was their plan to crack Julian Alaphilippe and get Steven Kruijswijk on the podium in Paris and it worked. Kruijswijk also had to watch for Emanuel Buchmann but the German was never a threat.
Ahead Nibali took a prestigious stage win for his career and his first big summit finish win since Risoul in the 2016 Giro. Movistar could have tried to bring him back but their riders were all over the place, ironically they’ll collect the team prize later today but only after a series of individualistic performances. In another ironic twist Romain Bardet wins the mountains jersey and after all that Pinot and Alaphilippe achieved this month he’ll be the Frenchman on the podium this evening, there’s a touch of the Steven Bradbury about it but it means he’s on the podium and his team sponsors will be delighted.
The Route: a start in Rambouillet and the Chevreuse valley, probably on some of the roads that will be used for the 2024 Paris Olympics and then into Paris via a couple of tourist novelties as they cross the Pont Neuf and pass through the courtyard of the Louvre with its glass pyramid. Then nine laps of the Champs Elysées circuit.
The Contenders: it’s not an easy pick, for the last three years the Paris stage has gone to a sprinter who hadn’t won a stage see Greipel in 2016, Groenewegen in 2017 and Alexander Kristoff last year. Still it’s hard to see anyone getting the better of Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) and Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quickstep) with Ewan proving to be the obvious pick today and Viviani the least reassuring given he was in the breakaway yesterday and has been on team duties while his rivals have been trying to save energy here and there.
|Caleb Ewan, Dylan Groenewegen|
|Alexander Kristoff, Peter Sagan|
Yellow story: Egan Bernal is not the youngest winner of the Tour de France, that’s Henry Cornet, also known as Henri Jardy, who won the 1904 edition aged 19. But at 22 years, six months and 15 days Bernal is the youngest ever winner of the yellow jersey in Paris.
Weather: sunshine and clouds, 25°C and not a landslide or hailstorm in sight.
TV: the stage starts at 6.05pm CEST and finish is forecast for 21.20pm CEST / Euro time. Even the most dedicated cycling fan doesn’t have to sit through the first couple of hours but after all that’s happened the riders deserve a parade and besides this final stage is the carrot to keep sprinters in the race when they might otherwise bale before the Alps, even if a finishing medal in the Tour de France is an achievement all starters want.