Tour de France 2018 Stage 21: Kristoff Champs conqueror; Thomas Tour triumphant

Alexander Kristoff won the blue-riband sprint at the Tour de France on the Champs Elysees. With 2.5km to go, UAE sent Marco Marcato off on a flyer to try and disrupt the other sprinters’ teams, Quickstepper Yves Lampaert countered but both were hauled back before the inevitable bunch sprint. Kristoff powered across the line at 63.9km/h for his first Tour stage victory since the brace he won back in 2014. John Degenkolb finished runner-up ahead of third-placed Arnaud Demare.

I was a bit far back after the tunnel but I was with [Roberto] Ferrari then Trek did a really good lead-out from behind and I managed to get John’s [Degenkolb] wheel. I started in a good position and passed John, and it was still far out but I saw nobody and in the last 20 metres I was sure I was going to win. I’m so happy I managed to do it.

Rider(s) of the Day

Yes, I know I do this at the end of every Grand Tour but my heartfelt congratulations go out to every single rider who finished the Tour in Paris, from race winner Geraint Thomas – shortly to be elected King of Wales – to the man who was the record-breaking lanterne rouge throughout the Tour, Lawson Craddock. Both are fine exponents of the qualities needed to finish 21 gruelling days of racing under the constant spotlight of the world’s press. Chapeau to all 145 riders, you should be very proud of yourselves, it’s a massive achievement.

For all those who didn’t make Paris due to illness or injury, we wish them all speedy recoveries. Heal up and come back bigger and more badass than ever. For those that fell foul of the rules through time-cuts, or even expulsion, we wish you better luck next time.

Standout stars of the show

I have to start with race winner Geraint Thomas who, for once, didn’t put a foot wrong all race long. In Paris, he paid tribute to his teammates:

It’s unbelievable. It’s going to take a while to sink in. Normally that stage is really hard but today I just seemed to float around it. I had goosebumps going around there. The support from the Welsh, British flags… it’s unreal. It’s the Tour de France. To ride around wearing this [yellow jersey] is a dream.

Yes, he had the best team but at the end of a mountain stage you still have to stick it to the opposition and he did that twice on two of the Alpine triptych, stages 11 and 12, seizing the yellow jersey on the former and winning atop the iconic l’Alpe d’Huez on the latter.

From the many congratulatory tweets I’ve seen on Twitter, it’s a popular victory and one many in the peloton feel has been a long time coming.

The Welsh are looking at all sorts of ways to commemorate Geraint being the first Welshman to win the Tour. Can I suggest you just buy him a pint next time you see him?

I suspect Geraint will settle for inspiring the next generation of Welsh cyclists’

Let’s stick with team Sky and the Tour’s benjamin Egan Bernal. Wow, what a talent! This is one Colombian who’ll definitely have the Tour on his palmares in the coming years. Absolutely nothing fazed this kid who has a wise head on young shoulders and, despite a few mishaps and babysitting Chris Froome, still managed to finish 15th overall.

Okay so the French didn’t win the Tour, nor did they get anyone on the podium. However, Pierre Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale) fought stiff competition to win the Best Young Rider Jersey and finish 13th, his team leader Romain Bardet clearly gave it his best shot to finish 6th, and you really can’t ask for anymore. FDJ’s Arnaud Demare won a stage and Miss Kitty Fondue’s chouchou, the swaggering Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) won two stages, the King of the Mountain’s prize and is the first rider to win four HC climbs in a single Tour. Not a bad haul!

The green jersey competition was even more one-sided than in previous years. That man Peter Sagan hoovered up points like there was no tomorrow. However, the bike-handler extraordinaire proved he too was only human with a massive purler on the downhill on stage 18. He was down but he most definitely wasn’t out and managed to make it to Paris to lift his record equalling (with Erik Zabel) sixth jersey. Along the way Peter entertained us all in his own inimitable style.

Now let me return to Lawson Craddock, literally the last man standing, who rode the entire race with a broken shoulder raising a staggering amount of money for the velodrome in his Texas hometown.

Last but not least, at the end of the season we’ll bid a fond farewell to Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) who’s completed 18 Tours, spending over a year on the road (368 stages – a record). We’ll miss his trademark long-range attacks and French housewives will have to find another favourite.

Stage results

1 Alexander Kristoff (UAE Emirates) 2:46:36

2 John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) same time

3 Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) s/t

4 Edvald Boassen Hagen (Dimension Data) s/t

5 Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) s/t

GC Top 10

1 Geraint Thomas (Sky) 83:17:13

2 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) +1:51

3 Chris Froome (Sky) +2:24

4 Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) +3:22

5 Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +6:08

6 Romain Bardet (Ag2r) +6:57

7 Mikel Landa (Movistar) +7:37

8 Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) +9:05

9 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) +12:37

10 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +14:18

All the jerseys

Embed from Getty Images

Leader’s jersey: Geraint Thomas (Sky)

Points jersey: Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe)

KOM jersey: Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors)

Best young rider: Pierre Latour (Ag2r)

Super combative: Dan Martin (UAE Emirates)

Listen to Stage 21’s  VeloVoices Tour in 5 podcast now on any podcast browser, even Spotify! and remember, you can get involved too! 

Official Tour de France website for full results

Header image: ©GETTY/AFP/Philippe Lopez

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