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Tour de France 2013: Stage 21

Welcome to the grand finale of the 2013 Tour de France on the Champs Elysees! It's a special night, with the first nighttime finish to the Tour in honour of the 100th edition of the race.

We've made it! We're in Paris for the final stage of the 100th Tour de France, and the riders have had a leisurely day starting with a flight to Paris and some time at Versailles.

The riders have to make their way from the start in Versailles today - they are currently in the neutral start - and into Paris, where they will have 10 laps of a new circuit which goes all the way around the Arc du Triomphe rather than flip a 180 in front of it.

We now know the Champs-Elysees as the classic finish to the Tour de France, but the first time it was used was in 1975. We've prepared a retrospective of the 39 finishes and a gallery for your viewing pleasure here.

There are two categorized climbs today, the first at 29.5km with the Côte de Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse and then at km. 33.5, the Côte de Châteaufort, which is also the site of the Jacques Anquetil memorial.

Those climbs are only category 4, and cannot threaten the polka dot jersey of Nairo Quintana (Movistar), as there is only a single point at the top. There is 200 € to be won for each sprint, however.

There is also one intermediate sprint, as is usual, this one comes after the fourth passage of the finishing line on the Champs-Elysees at km. 87. Nobody will take the green jersey off the shoulders of Peter Sagan (Cannondale), who holds a 101 point lead over Mark Cavendish.

Speaking of Cavendish, he's got this finale dialed in! Four straight wins on the final Tour de France stage, can he do it again? The circle around the Arc du Triomphe will change up the finish, making it a bit faster than the normal 180-turn.

"The real race starts when we hit the Champs Elysees for the first time," Cavendish said on Eurosport before the finish. "It's a difficult circuit, it's made a lot easier circling the Arc du Triomphe. It's the holy grail for sprinters, so there will be a lot of competition for it."

Of course there is really no need for a neutral start today, because much of the first 69.5km will be more of a procession than a race. Leader and soon-to-be crowned race winner Chris Froome and his Sky team will be the subject of many photo ops along the way, champagne toasts, etc.

Because Quintana is in the polka dot jersey today, the white jersey of best young rider is on the back of Garmin-Sharp's Andrew Talansky, who had a brilliant ride on the final climb on stage 20.

Froome told Eurosport he is looking forward to the finish today, saying "The vastness of everything hits you when you hit the Champs-Elysees, the fans, what it all represents." It's been a long journey for him and Sky - and seems like such a long time since we started in Corsica with the Orica bus incident.

Peter Sagan, our green jersey winner, has been growing his goatee throughout the race, and today he's done the unthinkable and dyed it green.

Today is the one day where it is socially acceptable to ride on the path alongside the peloton and try to keep up. They're pedaling along at a tourist's pace out of Versailles.

In addition to our yellow, green, polka dot and white jerseys, there is our most combative rider Christophe Riblon with the red dossard now designating him as the most aggressive rider of the entire Tour. In the yellow helmets of top team are Saxo-Tinkoff.

If you have comments of questions, please drop a note on Twitter to @laura_weislo (don't forget the underscore!) and I'll do my best to answer.

The peloton is passing by the gardens of the château of Versailles, lovely manicured landscaping that the riders probably didn't have the energy to enjoy before the stage.

Joaquim Rodriguez, who will finish third overall, is attempting to enjoy a cigar at the front of the peloton, but can't seem to get it going. He's being helped by Quintana. His nickname is Purito, which means little cigar, that's what he has.

While the peloton pedals at a pedestrian pace, we can take a moment to congratulate Tom Boonen on scoring a victory in the Tour de Wallonie. He beat out American Tyler Farrar in the sprint.

For the first time in this Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme has dropped the white flag for the stage depart and nothing happened. Not a single attack.

Ah that is because the flag hasn't dropped, we're about 10 minute behind schedule.

At last, we have the flag and... nothing. Sky and Katusha at the front, but nobody is excited to go hard just yet.

132km remaining from 133km

Mark Cavendish, the British road champion, is working his way from the back of the peloton while munching on some snacks.

 

129km remaining from 133km

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114km remaining from 133km

This brings us up to date, and Alberto Contador's poor fortune continues, as he has to take a bike change. It's no concern as the peloton is still on cruise control.

Let's take this moment to extend happy healing notes to the some of the 28 riders who have left the race through crash or illness, including Cannondale's Ted King, who separated his shoulder on stage 1 and was time cut in the TTT.

111km remaining from 133km

And to Jurgen van den Broeck, Fredrik Kessiakoff, Nacer Bouhanni, Maxime Bouet, Janez Brajkovic, and Christian Vande Velde who left because of crash injuries in the first week.

The most bizarre withdrawal perhaps was that of Benjamin Noval who was hit in the hand by a spectator during the TTT and had to withdraw.

107km remaining from 133km

Omega Pharma-Quickstep is leading the peloton on the approach to our first climb of the day.

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104km remaining from 133km

We have our first acceleration! Oh hang on, it's just an Astana rider coming up to chat with the OPQS riders.

107km remaining from 133km

Omega Pharma-Quickstep is leading the peloton on the approach to our first climb of the day.

104km remaining from 133km

Sorry, our live console went a little nuts there and duplicated an old post. Sorry about that. There is no sprint for the first climb of the day - looks like Gert Steegmans out-kicked (a very tiny kick) his teammate to take the point and the 200 euros.

101km remaining from 133km

Chris Froome is now posing for photographs with the traditional (plastic) glass of champagne.

Team Sky team manager Dave Brailsford is talking to him from the back of the team car.

97km remaining from 133km

The shadows are growing in the corn fields as the riders roll along in the sun. They have usually finished racing but today they have only just begun.

The peloton is still enjoying the party atmosphere but that will change in 25km when they enter the Champs Elysees for the first time.

85km remaining from 133km

The peloton is still taking it easy - so easy in fact that sprinter Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) took the point for that second climb at 100km to go.

So what's at stake for today's stage in terms of monetary compensation? Well, the winner gets 8000 euros.

Froome, Quintana and Rodriguez will take 450k, 200k and 100k respectively for the GC. When you think about what the winner of the the French Open gets 1.5 million Euro (even the women get that much), it's a pretty paltry sum.

The prize purse for GC is extremely deep, however, paying down to 160th place. It's reason to keep fighting, even if you are the lanterne rouge.

In addition to points, there is cash at each of the intermediate sprints - so today's will net the winner 1500 euro. Peter Sagan will pocket a cool 25,000 for winning the green jersey. Same for Quintana for winning the maillot pois, in addition to 20k for the white jersey.

81km remaining from 133km

So there is still plenty of motivation to race, just not right yet. Omega Pharma is still leading with just over 80km left to race.

The peloton is just on the outskirts of Paris proper, they will arrive onto the final circuit in 10km.

Yikes! A "fan" carrying a sign about doping in the sport threw himself in front of the camera moto and was violently thrown out of the way by a gendarme. That was close.

Team Sky has now taken the lead of the peloton, lined up all ahead of Froome as they ride into Paris.

77km remaining from 133km

Welcome to Paris, gentlemen - you've made it!

There wasn't even a "for fun" town line sprint as they entered Paris, everyone is respecting Sky and their procession into town.

The riders now have the Eiffel tower in sight, and I can imagine that would be a moment of goosebumps, especially for the riders in their first Tour de France, like Nairo Quintana and Andrew Talansky.

The peloton spends the next few kilometers paralleling the Seine, then will turn right, cross the river, and then cross again, pass by the Louvre and head onto the circuit.

70km remaining from 133km

The peloton heads up toward the Louvre, they will pass through its grounds and then head out onto the finishing circuits. We can expect some action once they get there.

The view from the other side of the road from the Louvre's famous pyramid is a key photographic opportunity. The peloton is through and onto the circuit, with the fans cheering very loudly for the 100th Tour de France peloton. Thousands of fans are lined up 10 deep all along the circuit.

There is an initiative at the moment to petition for a women's Tour de France, so that the female racers too can experience a spine-tingling moment on the bike like this one.

La Patrouille de France fly over the Champs Elysees leaving contrails in blue, white and red in honour of the 100th Tour.

For the first time in Tour history, the race will go around the Arc du Triomphe, one of the craziest, busiest and most central hubs of the city - certainly the traffic mayhem this causes will be worth it.

The riders will very much appreciate the inclusion of this circle, because the normal 180 and the sprint out of it most certainly caused some pain to the legs after 4000km or so.

They still have 4 laps to play before the intermediate sprint. Peter Sagan has sewn up the green jersey, but there is pride on the line with 46.5km to go.

The peloton passes 20 times - twice per lap - by the Place de la Concorde, which during the French Revolution was the spot of the biggest and most popular spectacle, the guillotine. In the summer of 1794, 1300 heads were lopped off in a single month during the Reign of Terror. Thank goodness the public only has to witness sport and not slaughter these days in Paris.

60km remaining from 133km

The pace has most certainly picked up - the peloton is single file with 60km to go.

These 10 laps will go by very fast thanks to the inclusion of the traffic circle, but the high speed will make it harder for breakaways to stick.

A Sojasun rider led the peloton at 65kph, but a Belkin rider was still able to jump clear. Let's see, who that could be?

I'll hazard a guess it's Lars Boom - not many riders can accelerate away from the bunch at a speed that high.

Indeed, the ASO has confirmed it is Mr. Tree, Lars Boom. He's in an aero tuck but running out of steam. He's being joined or caught rather by BMC.

56km remaining from 133km

There was a counter attack from Radioshack, looked like it may have been Monfort, but it didn't go anywhere. Now we have a Garmin rider and a Belkin rider together just clear.

The speed is just too high for them go stay away, however. The counter-attack includes the Garmin rider, one from Euskaltel and one from Orica-GreenEdge.

None of the groups are getting more than about 10m.

53km remaining from 133km

The peloton isn't exactly single file - so they're not flat out at the moment. They're going around the Arc du Triomph once more with a single rider being caught.

Oh dear - Mark Cavendish has a flat! That is bad luck - can he get back in to try for a fifth consecutive win here, and will he have the legs to sprint if he does?

This might ease the pace in the peloton a bit as OPQS steps off, so it's a perfect time to go on a breakaway. Jens?

It's a mad, mad chase for Cavendish at high speed through the cars, but luckily he doesn't have to bunny hop traffic furniture as he did in his last incident like this. He's managed to latch onto Peter Velits and get into the field.

A trio of riders heard my suggestion and popped off the front while the cameras were trained on Cav. It's Sojasun, Orica, one more and a Garmin, possibly Millar, has joined.

48km remaining from 133km

This flat from Cavendish will mean he'll likely not contest the intermediate sprint. Millar, Flecha, Meyer and El Fares are our breakaway.

Seven laps to go and we have our breakaway - looks like a Cofidis rider might be trying to bridge across. Sky is at the front but the pace has definitely slackened. They just want to keep Froome safe for now.

Flecha is really driving this breakaway - he's had a lot of practice this Tour as he tries to get something for Vacansoleil.

Flecha has pushed so hard that only Millar can come with him. More riders try to jump across from the peloton.

45km remaining from 133km

Millar and Flecha drive on together, but BMC has two riders trying to bring a small group across. The American/Swiss team has had no luck this Tour, losing its GC hopes early to time losses and winning no stages.

Millar and Flecha crack on in their breakaway, nobody can make it across to these two strong men. They pass the Place de la Concorde again, which has the Egyptian obelisk at its heart now. it's one of the few Egyptian antiquities that wasn't looted by the west. it was actually given to France by Muhammed Ali (not the boxer), who helped to modernize Egypt. He donated two, but one remained in Egypt because it was too heavy to transport, and it was returned to the Egyptians decades later.

39km remaining from 133km

Omega Pharma and Argos-Shimano are conspiring to keep the gap of Flecha and Millar to just 20 seconds.

We've missed the intermediate sprint - the race is going by so fast! Flecha took the max points over Millar as they split the break, with El Fares, Meyer and then Morabito rounding out the top 5. Nary a sprinter in the points as they are saving their legs for the big finale.

ASO has confirmed that Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) has pulled out of the race. Too bad, as he was only 38km to the finish line. He must be ill.

Ah yes, Vacansoleil stated on Twitter that Westra has been sick. Perhaps he's had a bad mussel with his frites.

In other news, congratulations to Sven Nys, who has become the Belgian mountain bike champion.

Things aren't going too well for Millar and Flecha, the Garmin rider had to coast to get Flecha to pull through. That's not going to help their momentum.

Counter-attack Astana.

34km remaining from 133km

Five laps to go and Enrico Gasparotto is trying to bridge the 11 second gap to Millar and Flecha.

The peloton is lined across the road, still waiting to make the catch. No rush, they don't have much more than 10 seconds as they round the Arc du Triomphe again.

31km remaining from 133km

Millar has left Flecha behind and is pushing on, opening up more of a gap. Gasparotto never did manage to make it.

It's not easy for breakaways to stick on the Champs-Elysees - the peloton can see the breakaway and the speed is so high. It takes a special rider to hold off the bunch, but with 29.5km to go, I'm not sure David Millar is superhuman enough to do it. The last one who did was Alexander Vinokourov in 2005 but he escaped much later.

Perhaps Millar is working to set up a teammate for a late attack - maybe Ramunas "Honey Badger" Navardauskas?

... or maybe Liege-Bastogne-Liege and stage 10 winner Dan Martin? Or maybe he just wants to show the sponsors off to the crowds here.

26km remaining from 133km

The peloton seems happy to let Millar fly his team's flag out front. They've stepped off the pace for the moment, and he's got 29 seconds.

The sun is beginning to set on this Tour de France, figuratively and quite literally, as the headlghts are on the race vehicles and motos.

The next few laps will be the trickiest as the visibility will be at its worst. Expect to see the sunglasses come off soon.

While the inclusion of the circle around the Arc will help safety, the tunnel they pass through will be pitch black. It certainly will help raise the adrenaline in the closing lap.

Millar is persisting, now with 24 seconds, and 23km left to ride. Froome is present near the front and will be until that 3km to go mark.

21km remaining from 133km

The peloton comes out of the tunnel and there's an attack from FDJ.

It is Jeremy Roy who has gone off in pursuit of Millar.

Three laps to go!

Cavendish, Kittel and Greipel are hanging out in the bunch together - the work is still the job of their teammates to set pace and Sky to keep Froome safe.

19km remaining from 133km

Roy is much fresher and has caught and passed Millar, who then rallies to try and get back up to the FDJ rider. He can't make it and is passed by a counter by BMC, Belkin and Movistar.

The French champion Arthur Vichot has been dropped off the back with a flat.

17km remaining from 133km

It's Quinziato (BMC) at the front with the Belkin and Movistar rider.

It's Alejandro Valverde and Bram Tankink up there with Manuel Quinziato in the breakaway.

Coincidentally, Tankink has been on the attack here before - we just posted a photo of his previous effort in our Champs Elysees retro gallery.

The light is vanishing from the streets of Paris, and the street lights have yet to make up for the lack of sunlight. The peloton must be having trouble seeing where they're going.

Vichot is still unable to get back into the bunch, it looks like he needs another wheel. Bad luck for the French champion.

12km remaining from 133km

Quinziato, Valverde and Tankink are doing well to hold a 20 second gap, but the chase is really not full on.

This Tour de France has not been good for teams with three-letter acronyms for names. BMC and FDJ have had no luck, but Manuel Quinziato is trying to turn that around.

10km remaining from 133km

10km to go and only 15 seconds for Quinziato, Valverde and Tankink. Argos-Shimano is pushing the pace now in the bunch, wiht OPQS and Cannondale trains forming right behind.

Froome has faded from the front, now is in the top 40 riders as the sprint trains start to get organised.

One must wonder if the lead-out men can even see if their sprinters are on the wheel? It's getting quite dark now, not much lighter than the tunnel they've passed through

The trio are fading as fast as the dying light now, the peloton has them within its reach.

As the bell rings, there is just on lap to go before the end of the 100th Tour de France.

4km remaining from 133km

The sprinters are fighting for position as the peloton completes the last loop of the Arc du Triomphe.

Omega Pharma is now leading the peloton.

The riders head off the descent of the Champs. Position is vital now.

Omega has five riders to lead out Cavendish. Will it be enough?

They dive under the road near the Louvre and emerge with Cannondale also in the lead out.

One km to go. Trentin on the front. Here come Lotto and Argos.

Argos lead it out.

A close sprint between Cavendish, Kittel and Griepel. But who got it?

Kittel! By half a bike.

Behind Chris Froome crosses the line with his Team Sky teammates spread across the road. He is the winner of the 100th Tour de France.

It's official: kittel beat Greipel, with Cavendish third.

Top 10:
1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
2 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol
3 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling
5 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
6 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
7 Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar
8 Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar
9 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
10 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) FDJ.fr

Kittel went early in the sprint and Greipel and Cavendish tried to come up on each side. However the young German had the power and speed to win. It was his fourth sprint victory in this year's Tour de France.

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) finished fourth in the sprint. He dominated the green jersey points jersey competition.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) will soon be crowned as the best young rider and as king of the mountains. He will collect the polka-dot jersey and the white jersey.

Saxo-Tinkoff has on the team prize.

The podium ceremony will be a special moment with a celebration of the 100th Tour de France in the presence of hundreds of former Tour riders. 

Well, yet again, it's been an emotional and exciting three weeks of racing. There really is nothing like the Tour de France.

French television is showing the highlights of this year's Tour de France.

What was your best moment, your highlight? Shae you thoughts on our Facebook page.

The moon is out over Paris as the podium ceremony and the celebrations of the 100th Tour de France begin. 

We will have a full race report, special photo galleries, video interviews and news on Cyclingnews.

 

Thank you and Merci for following the 100th Tour de France on Cyclingnews.

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