Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme has described this year's race as "three extraordinary and unforgettable weeks", and admitted that it was "the most beautiful Tour" he'd witnessed since taking the reins of La Grande Boucle in 2007.
It was indeed the Tour that had it all, inviting comparisons by many to the 1989 race, which was eventually decided by just eight seconds.
This year, the top four riders on the GC were separated by less than two minutes, with a 22-year-old climber from Colombia crowned king in Paris on Sunday. Along the way, there were the expected beautiful stage victories, and the usual tears and crashes, but also landslides and shortened stages, and the emergence of new stars of the future. There was even, it seemed for a while at one point, the possibility of a French winner – for the first time since 1985.
Prudhomme said that one of his best memories will be of the start this year in Brussels, Belgium, where the race celebrated the 50th anniversary of Eddy Merckx's first Tour de France victory in 1969.
"That start in Brussels with Eddy Merckx will always stay with me," he told Belgian website sporza.be. "How fans along the course were moved to tears when he passed by.
"But I'll also remember the ultimate happiness of Egan Bernal [Team Ineos] when he captured the yellow jersey," continued Prudhomme, "and Thibaut Pinot [Groupama-FDJ] in tears when he had to quit the race through injury. And then Julian Alaphilippe [Deceuninck-QuickStep] continuing to survive as the race leader for so long was of course also emotional.
"We had some great stages, and I saw a lot of riders who had the guts to attack," Prudhomme said. "I'm thinking in particular of Alaphilippe, Pinot, Bernal and Wout van Aert [Jumbo-Visma]. I hope that we'll see more of that kind of riding at this race in the future."
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