Mesdames et Messieurs, nous sommes arrivés à Paris. And gosh, what a journey it’s been to get here! So many memories already and more to come today. It’s a day of celebration, fast-paced action and podium tears and I LOVE it.
Sunday 26th July: Stage 21 – to Paris Champs-Elysées, flat, 109.5km
The beautiful porcelain trophy that the victor holds aloft tonight is made in the town of Sèvres, the start point for today’s stage. For the first 41km the peloton enjoy themselves with champagne, jokes and photo opportunities aplenty. Every team will have a little time at the front to celebrate the fact they have made it, and who would deny them? But the atmosphere switches to full race mode as soon as the wheels hit the concrete setts of the Champs-Elysées for the first of ten furious circuits.
All the sprinters want to win in Paris and their teams will be at full speed and jostling for position as they hit the upward drag to the finish line. No rider has won on the Champs more times than Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step), Can he defy the odds and overcome a misfiring sprint train now missing Martin, Kwiatkowski and Renshaw to make it five wins, or will the Lotto-Soudal red train launch Andre Greipel to a fourth stage victory? Of course there is always a very slim chance that a strong rouleur will break away to deny the sprint fest. It last happened in 2005 – is there anyone with the legs to do it again in 2015?
Wherever you are, enjoy the day, cry like a baby at the podium ceremony and raise a flute of bubbly to all the riders … and remember it’s not goodbye, only au revoir.
Link: Official race website
Header image: Author’s own