After the celebratory procession from Montgeron, the riders hit the Champs-Elysees for the final eight circuits of this year’s 104th Tour de France. With the peloton all together, LottoNL-Jumbo dropped their sprinter Dylan Groenewegen off at the front on the final straight and, while it looked as if he may have launched his sprint too early, he held on to cross the line a bike-length ahead of a fast closing Andre Greipel and Edvald Boasson Hagen. Meanwhile, Chris Froome rolled in safely behind with his teammates to seal a hard-fought fourth Tour victory.
Riders of the Race
It would have been all to easy to award this to today’s stage winner, 24-year-old Dutch rider Dylan Groenenwegen who’s been building up to a big WorldTour win. And let’s face it, they don’t come bigger for sprinters than the one on the Champs Elysees. However, Dylan’s going to have to share the award with everyone who reached Paris. Yes, congratulations to each and every one of the 157 finishers of this year’s Tour de France, you’re all sharing my Riders of the Race award because in my book you’re all winners.
We’d also like to say a fond farewell to those riders definitely completing their last-ever Tour de France. I am, of course, referring to Trek-Segafredo’s Haimar Zubeldia, whose last race will be next week-end’s La Clasica in San Sebastian.
And of course, the most famous tongue in cycling, Direct Energie’s Thomas Voeckler, who is also calling time on his career. French housewives will have to find themselves another favourite. Fortunately, there’s plenty of potential candidates for France’s next chouchou.
Impossible sky-high expectations
There’s been lots of moaning in my timeline on Twitter about how boring this Tour has been – please don’t be surprised if I’ve unfollowed. Were you really watching the same race as me? I think what you’re really trying to say is that the Tour didn’t live up to your own (possibly impossible) expectations. Obviously, the Tour lost some GC contenders and high profile riders to injury, illness and some unpopular subjective decisions. Who knows what might have happened had they all reached Paris?
ASO hoped the parcours would maintain suspense until the penultimate stage and, to be fair, it did for the remaining two places on the podium. It was a closely fought Tour. I’ve watched every single stage pretty much from start to finish and I loved that I could do that. I enjoyed knowing how, when and where the break was formed. I’ve marvelled at the length of time certain riders have spent at the head of the peloton or in the break. Many, but not all, have been our Riders of the Race.
Okay, there’s been some boring bits and during these I’ve gotten on with my work, or enjoyed the splendid scenery and magnificent property porn. But pretty much every stage has had me on the edge of my seat. I’ve been thrilled by every stage winner, particularly those that have won their maiden grand tour or Tour de France stages. I’m sure that everyone has tried their utmost. What more can we ask or indeed expect? You only have to look at Romain Bardet‘s face, he’s emptied himself and stayed on the podium by just one single second.
The good news is that we’ve got less than four weeks before it starts all over again at the Vuelta a Espana.
Finally, and on a lighter note
Did Caroline say yes to Ag2r’s Cyril Gautier? We deserve to know.
Top 5 stage
1 Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) 2:25:39
2 Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) same time
3 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) s/t
4 Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) s/t
5 Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) s/t
Top 5 GC
1 Chris Froome (Sky) 86:20:55
2 Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) +0:54
3 Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) +2:20
4 Mikel Landa (Sky) +2:21
5 Fabio Aru (Astana) +3:05
All the jerseys
Leader: Chris Froome (Sky)
Points: Michael Matthews (Sunweb)
KOM: Warren Barguil (Sunweb)
Best Young Rider: Simon Yates (Orica-Scott)
Super Combative: Warren Barguil (Sunweb)
Team Classification: Sky
Header image: Farewell to another Tour de France ©GETTY/Corbis/Tim de Waele