Tour de France 2013: Stage 21 preview

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Tour de France 2013 stage 21
Sunday, July 21
From Versailles
Paris Champs-Élysées
Distance 133.5km
Stage type Flat

Yellow jersey 0/5
Green jersey 5/5
Polka-dot jersey 0/5

Paris, where surly waiters will extort the last remaining euros from our wallets before banging overpriced coffees down on the table before us and saying ‘bof’.

It’s the final stage of the Tour – we start in Versailles, site of the Palace, and the second Unesco World Heritage Site of the Tour, after Albi. The route meanders through the banlieue of Paris before roaring on to the Champs-Elysées for the traditional laps of the most famous boulevard in the world.

It’s a traditional finish to the Tour, although there’s a twist this year – the stage will be held in the evening, ensuring missed deadlines for journalists, missed trains for fans, and, no coincidence, we’re sure, a huge bonus in extra booking revenue for Parisian hotels.

It’s more or less flat today, for the first time in over a week, with a downhill run into Paris, then the finishing circuit on the Champs-Eysées. It’s not an easy circuit to ride on – the stretch of Champs-Elysées from the finish line to the Arc de Triomphe drags painfully upwards, on concrete setts. And the downhill section is ridden at 60kph, with the bunch lined out.

The GC battle is sorted, so today’s battle will be all about the stage victory. It’s really hard to see past a win for Mark Cavendish. The sprint is an untechnical one, with the widest finishing straight in cycling, which gives the riders plenty of room to manoeuvre.

Cavendish has won this stage four years in a row, making him the outright record holder by two. And he’s done it in different ways, either bursting late (as in 2010), getting brilliant lead-outs (as in 2009) or going for it early and leading all the way up the finishing straight (as in 2012). There must be a way to beat him, but nobody’s worked out what it is yet.

André Greipel or Marcel Kittel, given an inch-perfect lead-out, might manage it. Five in a row for Cavendish would be an incredible achievement.



Related links

Tour de France 2013: Coverage index