The race returns to the French suburb where the first stage of the first Tour de France began in 1903: Montgeron, southeast of the city. The depart réel was given outside the restaurant where it all began,- Le Reveil Matin, and that’s going to be the case this year too.
Initially the stage heads towards the city centre before taking a detour around Paris-Orly Airport to allow the photographers to capture the peloton’s de rigueur rolling soirée with shots of the yellow jersey drinking champagne. Once on the D920, the race makes a beeline for the city centre, passing a few of the venues that may host Olympic events in 2024.
The race crosses the Péripherique due south of the Place de la Concorde, heads west and then follows the Avenue de Versailles alongside the Seine up to the most beautiful finishing circuit in all of cycling, which it hits just after 6pm local time. As normal, the race covers eight laps of the harder-than-it-looks circuit which takes the long way around the Arc de Triomphe, a route change since 2013, that again gives photographers some bread-and-butter shots. The art to winning is to be second, third or fourth wheel coming off the Place de la Concorde onto the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, and of course being extremely fast. In recent history, the stage tends to be won by the year’s dominant sprinter. However last year Lotto-Soudal’s André Greipel, who had a tough race at the hands of a resurgent Mark Cavendish, got his hands in the air for the first time that race, on the Champs-Elysées, following Cavendish’s departure to focus on the Olympics. All that remains after the finish is the infamous stage 22: the post-Tour party in Paris.
To subscribe to Pro Cycling click here.