That final sprint and a big moment for Mark Cavendish who’s up against all the remaining sprinters, and the rest of the field who might fancy their chances too.
Grand Cru: the stage win for Wout van Aert, his second after Mont Ventoux and to go with his sprint stage wins. Many wanted to see a Tour route with more time trials and this year’s route delivered this. But will people want more of the same? Yesterday’s stage just helped widen the time gaps rather than narrow them and only Wilco Kelderman got close to Ben O’Connor, otherwise all the top-10 riders were just further distanced by Tadej Pogačar, a top-10 already 16 minutes apart is now spread across 18 minutes.
The Route: the usual procession through the suburbs and then the Champs Elysées, closed for the day and a privilege normally reserved for visiting heads of state. It’s ight times across the line to hear the bell and then the sprint.
The Finish: there’s a small difference here, the finish line is 300 metres further along the Champs Elysées than it’s always been, the chicane through the Place de la Concorde comes earlier. This means a rider doesn’t have to come through the corner so close to the front but they’ll have to rattle over the cobbles for longer.
The Contenders: there’s Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quickstep) and all the rest, he can get his fairy tale Merckx-beating stage win and count on a strong team to guide him into the Champs Elysées. He’s not got the green jersey sealed up arithmetically yet with Michael Matthews still technically in reach.
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) could back off given his form and the approaching Olympics but said yesterday he wants this prestigious stage win on his palmarès too. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) has a chance while Cees Bol (DSM) will like this flat finish. It’s almost always a bunch sprint but doesn’t have to be, there’s still a chance for a strong breakaway to spoil things for Quickstep, think Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Oliver Naesen (Ag2r Citroën), Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) and Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe). Finally if the fairy tales of this Tour continue then André Greipel (Israel) has announced his retirement and what better way rage against the sunset with a win today?
|Mark Cavendish, Wout van Aert|
|Cees Bol, Jasper Philipsen|
|Politt, Laporte, Stuyven, Naesen, Mezgec, Colbrelli, Greipel|
Weather: warm and sunny, 27°C and a breeze from the NE.
TV: knowledge is knowing the stage starts at 4.15pm, wisdom is tuning in for just the final hour in order to catch the finish around 7.10pm CEST.
Stage 22: slang for the after-stage party but it’ll be subdued tonight. Many riders are catching a flight to Tokyo tonight, others are travelling tomorrow morning.