Date: Sunday July 24
Start: Paris La Défense Arena
Finish: Paris Champs-Élysées
Distance: 112 km
And here we are. After 20 days of racing, three rest days, four countries, and nearly 2,000 miles, the final stage.
Before the men get underway, the women will race the Paris circuit to kick off the Tour de France Femmes. Then, to the west, the hommes will set off from the Paris La Défense Arena for congratulatory champagne and to soak in what they’ve done the past three weeks.
One fourth-category climb lies just after Versailles before the peloton loops back toward the city centre, and the laps of the Champs-Élysées begin.
Who will win stage 21?
Will Wout van Aert win again? To take his fourth stage victory? Jumbo-Visma’s seventh in total and fourth in a row (gasp)? Ordinarily, a fatiguing stage win the day before might be a thorn in the side of a potential winner, but Van Aert showed us last year that he was more than up to the challenge. And to do so in the green jersey? Few would bet against him.
However, just for the sake of balance… It shows remarkable spirit if nothing else that all the pure sprinters have survived to contest what is often considered the unofficial sprinters’ world champs. There have only been three traditional bunch sprints in 20 stages and there hasn’t been a single dominant fast man. Stage winners Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) have all survived the mountains with the sole purpose of doubling up in Paris.
Then there’s Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) who is desperately seeking a first victory for himself and his team. He’s won on the Champs-Élysées before and he’s out for a revenge against a Tour de France that has thus far given him zilch.