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Tour de France 2015: Stage 21

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Welcome to the final stage of the Tour de France 2015! After a long and hard three weeks, the riders will be happy to make this dash into Paris.

This year’s Tour is coming to an end today, and the riders will be more than happy to cross the finish line later this afternoon. Let us join them on their final ride today.

The weather is not co-operating today. Rain, rain, rain, and very slippery. We saw this at La Course earlier today, with many many crashes.

And what an exciting La Course that was! Anna van der Bruggen won just ahead of the group, taking the win for Rabo-Liv. On the negative side, the race was full of crashes on a very slippery dangerous course. We hope that there were no serious injuries.

Today’s stage is the shortest road stage, only 109 km. And believe it or not, there is even a climb today! The cat. 4 Cote de l’Observatoire appears early, at km. 20.5. Will the riders be up to the challenge of this fearful climb, after yesterday’s climbs?

If the rain continues and the cobblestones stay so slippery, we shudder to think what might happen to the men later on. If conditions are bad enough, the race jury can act. Here we have Article 21(b), from the Tour Rules:

The race management and Stewards’ Committee may have to take the following measures for the finish of the 21st stage on the Champs-Élysées in Paris:

• if the road surface of the Champs-Élysées has become slippery before the riders reach it, then the times may be taken for the first crossing of the finish line;

• if the road surface of the Champs-Élysées becomes slippery after the riders have already begun racing on it, then the times may be taken at the next crossing of the finishing line.

In both cases, the finish will be maintained. In both cases, riders and sports managers will be informed immediately.

The day started out with much more excitement than was really necessary. A car ran through, or attempted to drive through, the security barriers being set up along the Champs Elysees, and the police fired shots. There is, however, apparently no reason at all to think it was in any way an attack of some sort against the Tour.

The peloton spent the night atop Alpe d’Huez and flew this morning to Paris.

We are expecting the start any minute now.  We can't imagine the riders are too eager to get out in that pouring rain.

 

They are on the road! 

 

Quintana and Froome are having a chat at the head of the field. Looks quite friendly.

 

It is, of course, no secret as to who the overall winner is/will be. Chris Froome has dominated the race since the start, and although he finally showed signs of weakness the last few days, he will win this race by 1:12 over Nairo Quintana. Third place goes to Quintana’s teammate, Alejandro Valverde, at 5:25. Vincenzo Nibali, Alberto Contador, Robert Gesink, Bauke Mollema, Mathias Frank, Romain Bardet and Pierre Rolland round out the top ten.

FINAL STAGE!   __o    __o . _ '\ <,   _. '\ <, (__) /_(__) (__) /_(__) .   __o    __o .   _ '\ <,   _.'\ <,   (__) /_(__) (__) /_(__)

@letour Sun, 26th Jul 2015 14:21:36

Peter Sagan will take the green jersey for the fourth consecutive year. Andre Greipel put up a good fight, but the Slovakian takes it home with more than a 100 point gap. Greipel is second, followed by John Degenkolb.

As usual in the final stage, there is much chit-chatting going on in the field, riders from different teams finally having the chance to kick back and enjoy it. 

 

Best team, by a large margin, is Movistar. Which probably shouldn’t be a surprise as they have GC 2 and 3. Sky is second, and Tinkoff-Saxo third.

Froome is not only tops in GC but also in climbing. He wins the polka dot jersey with nine points over Quintana. Romain Bardet is third.

Froome has an onboard camera on his bike today. The riders are still in the neutralised section at the moment.

Bardet awarded the most aggressive rider of the 2015 Tour http://t.co/Uzxs3z880P #TDF2015

@radiotour_en Sun, 26th Jul 2015 14:34:05

The best young rider is Quintana, ahead of Bardet and Warren Barguil.

The riders all warmly packed up in jackets and rain jackets. It might be a bit tricky picking out individuals today.

 

Christian Prudhome and Chris Froome shake hands, then the flag drops and the final stage officially starts. No immediate attacks today, though! 

 

You surely didn’t miss yesterday’s exciting Alpe d’Huez climb, did you? It was excitement pure as Thibaut Pinot took a solo victory and behind him, Quintana put in a daring attack to take time back on Froome. Read all about it here!

Race to be neutralized? No decision yet http://t.co/Uzxs3z880P #TDF2015

@radiotour_en Sun, 26th Jul 2015 14:44:05

Mark Cavendish is one of the top candidates for a win today. The question is, where will he ride next year? Maybe with MTN-Qhubeka?

 

The riders are rolling along through a lovely (and wet) wooded section.

 

We are hearing that the stage times will be taken at the first passage of the finish line, because the closing course is so dangerously slippery. We are still waiting for official confirmation, but it looks pretty sure.

 

And here is our podcast about yesterday’s stage, with Riche Porte, Ryder Hesjedal and an emotional Chris Froome.

Froome stops for an apparent change of jersey. He takes his time and then has to scurry back up to the peloton. No worries today, though.

 

Does anything strike you about this top five? Froome, Quintana, Valverde, Nibali and Contador – all have won previous grand tours.

Froome is now together with his teammates. Sky is wearing a special jersey today, with a yellow stripe down the back. And yes, they got permission for it.

 

Now that everyone has gotten photos of Sky in their new jerseys, the riders are happy to put their rain jackets back on!

 

Champagne time! Froome drops back to the team car for a toast!

 

#TDF2015 we are on our way to the #ChampsElysees and the boys can't wait to hear the African, Belgian, Norwegian & American fans go crazy!

@TeamMTNQhubeka Sun, 26th Jul 2015 15:11:16

And they are over today's fearsome climb! Not that anyone really noticed it. Pozzatto gets the points.

 

Only two teams are finishing the race at the full strength of nine riders: Europcar and LottoNL-Jumbo. The “smallest” team today is Bora-Argon 18, with only five riders.

The Tour had its first doping positive since 2012. Luca Paolini (Katusha) tested positive for cocaine after stage 7, with the announcement made on July 10.

Hello Paris. Doc is pleased. Now commenting final Stage of @letour for @DasErste - Later on bike @Etixx_QuickStep http://t.co/sUv9CgQOpb

@tonymartin85 Sun, 26th Jul 2015 15:22:17

There was also some major non-cycling news coming out of the Tour, when Ivan Basso made the shocking and unexpected announcement that he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. He went practically straight from the bike to the operating table, and thankfully was able to further announce that all went well and he should return to perfect health. Basso is expected to be in Paris today to greet his teammates.

 

Froome looks to be having a good time today, making his way around the peloton for lots of chats. Meanwhile, Valverde and Contador share their thoughts with each other. 

 

The youngest and oldest riders are still in the race, and there is a whopping 20 years between them. The oldest is Matteo Tosatto of Tinkoff Saxo, at 41 years, and the youngest is MTN-Qhubeka’s Merhawi Kudus, a tender 21 years old.

86km remaining from 109km

86 km still to go. Things are still moving along quite slowly at the moment.

 Bob Jungels of Trek is one of the revelations of this Tour. The 22-year-old is finishing as 27th and has a promising future as a GC candidate. 

 

The Tour saw two yellow jerseys leave the race due to injuries. Fabian Cancellara (Trek) suffered two transverse process fractures in two vertebrae when he was involved in a mass crash on the third stage. Only three stages later, Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) had to leave with an open collarbone fracture, with the bone actually having poked through the skin. Incredibly, both riders got back on their bikes to finish those stages, with the help of teammates.

Times will be taken on the 1st passage across the finish line. But everyone must finish the course + there's still a stage win up for grabs

@inrng Sun, 26th Jul 2015 15:44:37

The riders are approaching the Arc du Triumph. Soon the official times will be taken. Will they just roll along until then?

 

Sky’s Geraint Thomas came within a few stages of a top five GC finish. His performance has been impressive enough that he may now be in line for grand tour team leadership, especially with Richie Porte leaving.

75 km to go  -- and still no real racing to be seen! 

 

Peter Sagan will cruise into his fourth consecutive green jersey today. Robbie McEwen told us why it was inevitable. He also thinks Sagan will win today.

Bienvenue à Paris #TDF2015 http://t.co/ct1uYsQ5K8

@letour Sun, 26th Jul 2015 15:59:15

And now the riders circle around the Louvre, and its famous glass pyramid.

 

Sky leads the way up to the finish line for the first pass -- and the official time.

 

Over the line they roll! Now just 10 laps of this course and remember, they all have to finish the race for it to count.

 

It looks as if the rain has stopped. A number of the riders have shed their jackets. The road is still very wet and slippery, though.

 

Stlll no racing here. On the other hand, you can't blame them for not wanting to risk life and limb.

 

A lot of people are already calling Froome the official winner. Actually, he won't be until he finishes the laps and crosses the finish line for the last time. There is no reason to think that won't happen, but one really does have to wait until it is officially official.

 

German riders have claimed five stage wins, out of 20. Not a bad percentage, is it? And they have a chance to add to it today, with either Andre Greipel or John Degenkolb as top candidates.

 

Action! An Astana rider and an MTN rider give it a go! They do't get away, but perhaps the field has now woken up!

 

More attacks follow. Will someone really get away? At least the speed has picked up!

 

Ah, all the excitement was over the day's intermediate sprint which was won by Astana's Grivko. Meanwhile Sylvain Chavanel has jumped from the field and has a few meters advantage.

 

Mark Cavendish will be looking to win today, for the fifth time on the Champs. He is out of contract this year at Etixx-QuickStep, and his future with the team is apparently far from assured. A win would help him with a new contract, while a loss might see him being forced to go elsewhere next year.

Chavanel is still in the lead and has a whole 12 seconds gap.

 

Chavanel is looking for more than a win here. He is out of contract this year, and IAM has already said he won't be renewed.

 

17 seconds for Chavanel, 7 laps and 45 km still to go.

 

A group of five is giving chase, but doesn't have much of a gap on the field. In fact, they have just been caught again.

 

44km remaining from 109km

Chavanel is caught now.

 

No, he has not been caught at all. We were given bad information. Olivera, Van Bilson, and Perichon are giving chase, with the field at 13 seconds.

 

Greipel in front of Sagan. Is that also how this stage will end?

 

Lotto Soudal has all nine men at the head of the peloton. Chavanel now has 22 seconds.

 

Very confusing. Chavanel apparently has ben caught, and it is Oliveira, van Bilsen and Vachon in the lead, with Barta chasing. The field is at 24 seconds.

 

Barta is caught, but now Tuft jumps.

 

To add to the confusion we are now told it is Vachon in the lead group and not Perichon.

 

35km remaining from 109km

Tufts is back in the peloton.

 

Froome is at the back of the field. Like, back amongst the team cars.

 

Once more over the finish line.

 

Thomas Voeckler has wormed his way into the Lotto Soudal train.

 

Mechanical doping? Bike doping? No one has ever been caught for it, and no one really knows if it is being used or not. But (some) tests are being conducted.

4 laps to go, and a gap of 19 seconds.

 

With 21.5km to go, the gap is up to 34 seconds.

 

Three laps left to go!

 

The Arch du Triumph has been rounded again.

 

Robert Gesink had fallen back but is now up in the field again. We won't say he had any help from the team car....

 

Flamme rouge again! And a 23 second gap.

 

The penultimate lap! And a BMC rider -- Rohan Dennis -- jumps from the peloton.

 

At 11.4 km, Dennis joins the three leaders. Oh dear Froome has a bag or something caught in his rear wheel and has to pull over. He quickly gets a new bike.

 

The sun actually appears to be shining! So much better weather than earlier in the day!

 

With the last lap approaching, the gap is down to 9 seconds. Lotto Soudal, EuRopcar and BMC all at the head of the fast-moving field.

 

Sky is at the back of the field around Froome.

 

Van Vilsen takes off alone.

 

The bell lap! Now we will see action!

 

Dennis catchs van Bilsen.

 

5.7 km and the gap is down to 7 seconds. It will be over soon. Oops, Voeckler has punctured.

 

Dennis and van Bilsen are giving it their all, but they can probably already feel the breath of the peloton behind them. Last time around the Arch du Triumph!

 

The sprinters' teams are starting to get together and organise things, with just under 4 km to go.

 

Orica GreenEdge now in the lead.

 

Greipel, Sagan, Cavendish --- all there!

 

Devolder attacks!

 

BMC and Giant-Alpecin chase him down.

 

Now Giant-Alpecin is at the head of things.

 

Sieberg at the first under the flame rouge. A crash just before that.

 

Kristin us the first to jump, but once again Greipel turns on the turbo and powers his way past him for his fourth stage win!

 

Sky is not yet in. They are riding together at the end of the field.

 

Arm in arm the Sky team rides over the finish line. A fine display of team spirit.

 

The sixth stage win for a German in this Tour. And if we are not mistaken, it is Greipel's first win on the Champs Elysees.

 

Sagan was second -- yet again! -- and Kristoff third. 

 

In that crash just before the flamme rouge, a Trek rider went down and stayed down. We hope he was merely staying there until everyone had passed, to protect himself.

 

Trek says that it was Devolder and that he is ok.

 

1 Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal 02:49:41

2 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar

3 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha

4 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN - Qhubeka

5 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ.fr

6 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx - Quick-Step

7 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo

8 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin

9 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica GreenEdge

10 Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team

We apologize, we got confused by the green jerseys. Bryan Couquard of Europcar was second today. 

 

An emotional Greipel thanks everyone from his parents to all the trainers he has ever had to his teammates. When asked by German tv how he will celebrate this evening, he responded, "Not with water!"

 

And the final GC for the 2015 Tour de France:

1Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 83:19:15

2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 00:01:12

3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:05:25

4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:08:36

5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 00:09:48

6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 00:10:47

7 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 00:15:14

8 Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling 00:15:39

9 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 00:16:00

10 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 00:17:30

 

 

That's all, folks! Thanks for reading along with us today and for the past three weeks. Hope you enjoyed the race as much as we did!

 

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