"Everything went perfect": Meeus defeats Philipsen to win stage 21 of the Tour de France

Jonas Vingegaard finshes safely to confirm overall victory

Jordi Meeus
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jordi Meeus (Bora-Hansgrohe) pulled off a big surprise to edge Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) in a photo finish on the Champs-Élysées to claim stage 21 of the Tour de France.

In a blanket finish between Meeus, Philipsen, Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-AlUla) and Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek), Meeus just about took the victory, accelerating from the left-hand side of the road to shock the more established sprinters.

The day passed without any incident for the GC men, meaning Jonas Vingegaard completed victory in the overall classification. 

The Dane crossed the line off the back of the peloton along with the rest of his Jumbo-Visma teammates, celebrating arm-in-arm.

While it was a simple procession stage for he and the GC men, it was the biggest day of the Tour for the sprinters, and culminated in a highly competitive final bunch finish.

Yet for all the stars battling it out, it was Meeus, a 25-year-old debutant who had never before won a race at World Tour level, let alone at a Grand Tour.

“Definitely”, was Meeus’ response when asked during his finish line interview if this was the biggest day of his sporting career. 

“I knew in the previous sprints that more was possible in the results I’ve shown so far. Today, everything went perfect, and I’m super-happy to finish it off.

“I felt actually quite good all day. The beginning was easy, obviously, but from the moment we went full gas my legs felt incredibly good.”

It wasn’t exactly plain sailing for the sprinters’ teams, who had to shut down multiple attacks once the race arrived into Paris for the Champs-Élysées circuit. 

One of those attacks came from Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), clearly still hungry to take as much out of this Tour as possible after once again having to settle for second-place overall.

He was marked by Vingegaard’s teammate Nathan Van Hooydonck, and the Belgian neglected to work with the Slovenian. The pair were eventually swallowed up by the peloton. 

More attacks came later, but the peloton just about managed to keep the race in control, and the sprinters’ teams ensured a sprint finish in the final kilometres. 

One of those teams was Meeus’ Bora-Hansgrohe, who kept their sprinter well-positioned.

“Marco Haller did a great job with positioning,” explained Meeus, “and Danny [Van Poopel] was also there. I had the wheel of Pedersen, and then I just came out of the slipstream and I could catch it on the line.

“It’s my first Tour. It was a super-nice experience already so far, and to take the win today is just an indescribable feeling.”

TOUR DE FRANCE 2023 STAGE 21 RESULTS SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES > PARIS

1. Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe 02h 56’ 13”

2. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Deceuninck 

3. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jayco-AlUla

4. Mads Pedersen (Den) Lidl-Trek

5. Cees Bol (Ned) Astana Qazaqstan

6. Biniam Girmay (Eri) Intermarché - Circus - Wanty

7. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Cofidis

8. Søren Wærenskjold (Nor) Uno-X

9. Corbin Strong (NZ) Israel-Premier Tech

10. Luca Mozzato (Ita) Arkéa Samsic all at st

TOUR DE FRANCE GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 21

1. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma in 82h 05' 42''

2. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, at 7' 29''

3. Adam Yates (GBr) UAE Team Emirates, at 10' 56''

4.  Simon Yates (Gbr) Jayco-AIUla, at 12' 23''

5. Carlos Rodriguez (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers, at 13' 17''

6. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain Victorious, at 13' 27''

7. Jai Hindley (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 14' 44''

8. Felix Gall (Aut) AG2R Citroën, at 16' 09''

9. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 23' 08''

10. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis 26' 30''

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