Wout van Aert denies Mark Cavendish to win Champs-Élysées stage 21 of Tour de France 2021

Tadej Pogačar sealed his second yellow jersey, successfully defending his title

Wout van Aert
(Image credit: Getty)

Wout van Aert won the final stage 21 sprint of the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées, denying Mark Cavendish a record-breaking 35th stage victory, forced to settle for third after Jasper Philipsen came second.

Van Aert sealed his third stage victory of this year's Tour, having won the Ventoux mountain stage, yesterday's time trial and now the bunch sprint in Paris.

The Belgian received an exemplary lead-out from team-mate Mike Teunissen as Cavendish was forced to take Van Aert's wheel into the final, instead of his own lead-out man Michael Mørkøv, and Jumbo-Visma left no room on the left-hand side, Philipsen on Cavendish's right.

Tadej Pogačar enjoyed the processional final stage that confirmed his yellow jersey, his second win in as many appearances for the 22-year-old Slovenian, Jonas Vingegaard second, five minutes down, and Ineos' Richard Carapaz taking the third spot on the final GC podium.

How it happened

Rolling out of Chatou for the final stage, Tadej Pogačar signed Wout Poels polka dot jersey, a thank you for the Dutchman taking care of it for him these last few days before the Slovenian wears it on the final podium. 

Then, UAE Team Emirates came to the front to ride on their own, celebrating their successful title defence without champagne in respect of the sober persuasion of their title sponsor.

Mikkel Bjerg zipped ahead at the sole fourth category climb of the day, his first and only KOM point of the race, looking around and pumping his fist in mock celebration as his team-mates laughed. 

Pogačar’s fellow Slovenians then emerged, Matej Mohorič and Luka Mezgec, all three holding up Primož Roglič’s number 11, a touching moment. 

The peloton continued to pootle along, riders sharing final chats and jokes before the racing began.

As suburbia gave way to grander boulevards the peloton began to bunch and then string out, UAE Team Emirates leading the way in one-off white jerseys with a yellow band across the middle.

Coming through the Louvre the riders navigated the penultimate roundabout of the race, the final one being placed at the top of the Champs-Elysees.

Spreading across the road in an unusual fashion, UAE Team Emirates fanned out as they crossed the finish line for the first time, Pogačar triumphantly raising his fist in the air.

EF's Jonas Rutsch almost immediately jumped off the front, followed by Brent Van Moer (Lotto-Soudal) and Omar Fraile (Astana), before more riders including Julian Alaphilippe and Kasper Asgreen also got involved. 

Soon, Rutsch and Van Moer had swapped out for Stefan Bissegger and Harry Sweeny, as well as Casper Pedersen. The trio gained 15 seconds before two more launched from behind, Nils Politt setting up Patrick Konrad to successfully bridge across.

Pedersen then fell away from the leading quartet with 43km remaining, called back by DSM, as Valentin Madouas attacked behind but only briefly.

Bissegger led across the intermediate sprint as BikeExchange lined out behind for Michael Matthews, but Mark Cavendish made it look easy as he came through to cross the line fourth, all but extinguishing Matthews’ already fading hopes of green as the Deceuninck – Quick-Step sprinter showed he’d take some beating in six laps time. 

Two Total Energies riders tried to move off the front as it ticked under five laps to go, Deceuninck – Quick-Step chasing. This increase of pace brought the three leaders back into the fold, Alaphilippe then following Ide Schelling’s counter, Philippe Gilbert hitching onto the wheel of the world champion.

30km to go and it was all back together, Schelling trying once more to prise himself free, accompanied once again by Brent Van Moer, Michael Valgren setting off in pursuit. 

21 seconds was their advantage with 20km remaining, three laps to go, unmoved for the next 7km as B&B Hotels then launched an attack, Cyril Gautier with Franck Bonnamour on his wheel. 

Under 10km remaining and the trio in front had only 10 seconds over the bunch, much further behind Anthony Turgis being shadowed by the broomwagon, suffering with an illness. 

Deceuninck – Quick-Step were being assisted by Alpecin-Fenix’s Petr Vakoc, as DSM also swarmed the front, as the bell rang for the final lap.

Then, Michał Kwiatkowski accelerated, leading Geraint Thomas off the front, which brought the three riders back very quickly. Kasper Asgreen shut this move down, as Nils Politt then went, Mattia Cattaneo on this one.

Round the Arc de Triomphe and Mørkøv began to move Cavendish back up the peloton.

Under 5km remaining and Alaphilippe came through, now leading the peloton and keeping everyone in check. Cavendish then lost Mørkøv’s wheel as BikeExchange came to the front, then getting back on it.

Asgreen then came to the fore, Mørkøv once again leading Cavendish back up, alongside Wout van Aert, with Cavendish then taking the Belgian’s wheel as the finale began to unravel.

Mike Teunissen had delivered Van Aert superbly to the front, leaving no room for Cavendish to pass or even try to sprint up the left-hand side, and Philipsen was on the Manxman's right. Van Aert completed the job, crossing the line first as Philipsen took second and Cavendish had to settle for third.


Tour de France 2021, stage 21: Chatou to Paris Champs-Élysées (108.4km)

1. Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma, in 2-39-37
2. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix, at same time
3. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
4. Luka Mesgec (Slo) Team BikeExchange
5. André Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-Up Nation
6. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
7. Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange
8. Alex Aranburu (Esp) Astana-Premier Tech
9. Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
10. Max Walscheid (Ger) Qhubeka-NextHash, all at same time

Final general classification

1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 82-56-36
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, at 5-20
3. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, at 7-03
4. Ben O'Connor (Aus) Ag2r Citroën Team, at 10-02
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 10-13
6. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar Team, at 11-43
7. Alexey Lusenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech, at 12-23
8. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis, at 15-33
9. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain Victorious, at 16-04
10. Rigoberto Urán (Col) EF Education-Nippo, at 18-34

Final points classification

1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, 317pts
2. Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange, 279pts
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious, 223pts

Final mountains classification

1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, 107pts
2. Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain-Victorious, 88pts
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, 82pts

Final best young rider classification

1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 82-56-36
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, at 5-20
3. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 21-21

Final team classification

1. Bahrain Victorious (Bhr), in 249-16-47
2. EF Education First (USA), at 19-12
3. Jumbo-Visma (Ned), at 1-11-35

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