Good day to you. Welcome to our live race text coverage from stage 21 of the Tour de France. It's the final stage and we're finally heading to Paris.
All eyes on Mark Cavendish today who is aiming to set a record for the most Tour de France stage wins by a rider. He's currently tied on 34 with Eddy Merckx but win today and he'll be out in front on 35. He's won in Paris before, a number of times, but this is different, because it's not every day a rider beats one of Merckx's records.
All the jerseys are wrapped up today but here's how things look in the overall standings.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates||80:17:00|
|2||Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma||0:05:20|
|3||Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers||0:07:02|
|4||Ben O'Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team||0:10:01|
|5||Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:10:13|
|6||Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team||0:11:43|
|7||Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech||0:12:22|
|8||Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis||0:15:33|
|9||Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious||0:16:04|
|10||Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-Nippo||0:18:33|
Keep an eye out for Andre Greipel today. I don't know if he'll up there or not but the German is racing his final Tour de France and he announced just yesterday that he will be retiring at the end of the 2021 season. He's won in Paris, and he's got 13 stages to his name, and ISN, have stated that they are 'all in' for him today.
We're about 90 minutes away from the official roll out. If this is your first rodeo, the riders will amble along as they sip champagne and pose for awkward photos with their teammates. Then we'll hit Paris, the speed will increase, we'll do some laps and then we'll have a sprint. Game over.
Before we get wrapped up in Tour stuff let's spend a bit of time talking about the Olympics because despite covid cases exploding and cases now being detected in the athlete village it looks like the Games are going ahead. Here's the full schedule of events, times, and locations. For most of you, it'll mean staying up late or getting up very, very early.
We spoke to Jakob Fuglsang, on a related note. He's off to Tokyo tonight, along with a gaggle of Tour riders. He thinks that his subdued ride in the Tour is down to his second jab. He was second in Rio though, and here are his thoughts on all of the above.
You can also bookmark our Olympic Games 2021 coverage right here. That page will have everything you need to know, and more.
Another contender for today is Wout Van Aert. He won the TT, and he won the Ventoux stage but today he's going for the sprint. All of Belgium - minus Lefevere and QuickStep - will be cheering him on. Here's a photo of him gobbling up kms on his time trial bike.
We're just over an hour away from the start of the final stage of this year's Tour de France.
Some chatter about a break surviving on the Champs Elysees today because of a lack of sprinters still in the race. That's very, very unlikely with Jumbo, QuicStep, ISN, and BikeExchange all keen on a sprint. DSM too, in fact. Yes, we're missing some sprinters but this is destined to finish in a bunch gallop.
"I think there will be a lot of attacks because it will be difficult to control the race. Until the first passage on the Champs, it will be calm. I will try something anyway."
Those are the words of Gilbert who is also riding his final Tour de France. Well, that's not 100 per cent but he's strongly hinted at this. I think he's going to be in a move. I can imagine Van Avermaet going on the attack too but the last winner from a break in Paris was Alexandre Vinokourov, way back in 2005.
Ineos heads into Paris with a rider on the podium but it's not the result that they wanted with Carapaz in third and no stage wins for the team. Here's what the Ineos leader had to say:
"This year three was a different way of racing in the Tour, with more sporting aggressiveness," he said.
"There are very few riders in the world who can win the Tour. I didn't make it this year, but I'm sure I'll do it one day."
Meanwhile Alasdair Fotheringham has written this excellent feature on Jonas Vingegaard, who will finish second overall in his first-ever appearance at the Tour de France.
We're about 45 minutes from the roll out on stage 21 of the Tour de France.
Jasper Philipsen... totally forgot to mention in when talking about sprinters still in the race. He's had two seconds and three thirds in this year's race and can't be discounted in the sprint. Given what we've seen so far he's probably Cavendish's main rival.
I've just been informed that the finish straight is 700m this year (was 400m before) so we'll have a longer sprint than normal. That probably just means that the leadout will be even more important and timing will be everything. Morkov will have it dialed in, for sure, but Quickstep can't take on the entire chase once a break does get clear.
Mads Pedersen, van Poppel. I really did a terrible job of listing off the sprinters still in the race.
Anyway we're about 15 minutes from the roll out on stage 21 of the Tour de France.
Kwiatkowski has been pretty honest about his team's tactics in the Tour de France.
“We came with the mentality of using the guys who could be potentially close on GC - Richie [Porte], Tao [Geoghegan Hart], Richard [Carapaz] and G [Geraint Thomas], to fight against the favourites, which was obviously [Tadej] Pogačar [UAE Team Emirates],” Kwiatkowski told Cyclingnews before stage 19.
“But because of the crashes we couldn’t go with that plan. It was all focussed on Richard. We couldn’t use the strength of the team in terms of putting the pressure on the others with just attacking with the other GC guys, we had to put pressure like the old-school Sky and wait for them [the opposition] to crack.
“We did it for a couple of guys [opponents] but [race leader] Pogačar was unbreakable. So we are proud of what we achieved, but we always had an appetite for more.”
This is the first time we've been in Chatou for a Tour de France stage start. The town has been used in smaller races in the past but never the Tour. The sun is out this afternoon and we're expecting dry conditions for the rest of the day.
We do have a fourth cat climb soon after the start, and there's an intermediate sprint with around 26km to go.
Riders have gathered on the startline and we'll be rolling out soon enough.
Huge crowds at the start this afternoon as we see Pogacar on the startline. He's all smiles of course, and so is Cavendish.
We have 8.5km of a neutralized zone to start with as we see Uran bringing up the rear. He had a really tough final week and dropped from second on GC to tenth. He's smiling today and I think he's on the flight to Tokyo this evening. He was second at the Games in London, and could be a contender nine years on.
Our very on dep ed, Laura Weislo wrote this great story about Franck Bonnamour (B&B Hotels p/b KTM) who was voted as the most aggressive rider of the 2021 Tour de France, winning the €20,000 prize for 'super-combatif' after a vote from the French jury.
We're just crossing the Seine and the pace is still really gentle at the moment as you would expect for the final stage of the Tour de France.
Wout van Aert near the front and just chugging down a bidon. He's a big contender today but he did go hard yesterday and he's not as quick as Cavendish in a straight line. He's still a rider to watch in the finale though.
Just over 2km to go in the neutralized zone. We're almost racing but the pace won't shoot up right away as we've still got some pictures to take and some champagne to drink.
And we're racing on stage 21 of the Tour de France. It's still a gentle pace with UAE Team Emirates in new jerseys to celebrate their second straight overall win. It's basically white with a yellow band over the chest.
And now we see Pogacar and his seven teammates go clear of the bunch to have their photos taken by the press on motos.
Jakob Fuglsang has not started the final stage and he's the only non-starter. One can assume he's just going to use this to rest ahead of flying to Tokyo... Unless he's just decided to get an earlier flight.
We're coming up to the fourth cat climb but UAE are still on the front and having their photos taken. I can't remember if they do this for every team.
We're on the climb but it's irrelevant in a number of ways. 100km to go on the stage.
Mikkel Bjerg takes the single point at the top of the ascent.
Pogacar has dropped back into the middle of the peloton and is talking to Matthews, who is an outsider for the sprint this evening.
We're almost into the final 90km of the stage and it's Movistar and UAE who are sat on the front for now.
EF have moved up towards the front as a few riders drift back and take on some food. There's a bit of a discussion going on at the moment with UAE heavily involved.
78km to go
Just spotted someone in a Postal jersey, which is probably the most exciting bit of action we've had in the last 45 minutes. Don't worry, things will get better the closer we get to Paris. 78km to go.
We're about 20km from the racing to really start with the final 52km of the stage all taking place over the 8 laps of the Champs Elysees.
Back of the bunch and former teammates Chris Froome and Dylan van Baarle are in conversation.
Another great read from Alasdair Fotheringham today:
We're on a bit of a rise and Uran jokingly turns to the camera and pretends that he's in trouble. I think he's pretending anyway. 72km to go.
Cavendish is back in the pack too and climbing this little rise. His stage really starts once we hit Paris, and we're just on the outskirts now.
Glorious weather in the capital today and the crowds, as you would expect, are out in full.
Gilbert promised to attack and he's on the front as we see a few more UAE riders move up.
All of UAE are sitting on the front and setting the pace and it feels more like a race now as Pogacar is brought up.
Carapaz is at the back with a teammate as he rides with Uran. Froome is also right at the back with 62km to go.
It's still steady at the front but QuickStep have also moved and Cavendish is in that train.
And we're on the Champs Elysees for the first time with 54km to go . UAE will lead us over the finishline for the first time.
EF are the first team to attack and they've fired a rider up the road. It's quickly marked by Lotto Soudal.
52km to go
Actually the move has caused a split and about 10 riders are clear. There are three QuickStep riders in there, including Alaphilippe. Gilbert is there, Kung and Fraile too.
That group is too big and there are a few splits in there already.
It's all come back together but EF have another go with 51km to go.
Two riders are in hot pursuit as the entire peloton strings out.
EF, Sweeney and a rider from DSM are clear.
The trio have 14 seconds of an advantage at this point and they're working well as BikeExchange help with the chase.
Politt is trying to launch a teammate up the road. It's Konrad.
Konrad has made it, so we're up to four leaders now.
The gap to the leaders is holding at around 17 seconds with QuickStep doing most of the chasing at this point. 44km to go.
The leaders are on the rivet with 44km to go and their advantage out to just over 20 seconds.
It's 28 seconds now, so it's creeping up as we see Pedersen sit up, which leaves us with three riders in the break.
43km to go.
Matthews is being brought up for the intermediate sprint as a rider from Groupama has pinged off the front.
Valentin Madouas has been caught as Alpecin Fenix chip in with the chase. The gap is at 30 seconds.
Another rider from Groupama goes off the front but he gets 10m and is then brought back.
Cavendish was fourth over the line at the intermediate and his teammate Morkov was fifth.
Matthews just had no response and Cavendish takes three more points over his closest rival for green.
All of that action has put the three man break just 23 seconds clear with 37km to go.
Those points don't give Cavendish green outright but it's looking good for him. Matthews has to win with Cavendish seventh or lower in the sprint at the finish for the jersey to change hands.
23 seconds and now Total Energie go on the attack. They've gone clear with two riders in a group of four but the pace is so high in the bunch it's almost impossible to go clear.
The Konrad group are brought back with 32km to go and Bora go again with Ide Schelling but he has the world champion and Gilbert for company.
That trio have been caught. 29km to go.
Bora goes again and this time it's Lotto Soudal who marks the move and then shares the pace. Then EF goes after the attack with a rider of their own.
All back together once again as we see Greipel near the back of the bunch. We have four more laps remaining.
Schelling goes again with Van Moer and Valgren are clear with a rider from B&B chasing. The leading trio have 25km to go and they have a gap of 22 seconds.
Less than 25km to go in this year's Tour de France.
Schelling, Van Moer and Valgren have 24 seconds.
All of Deceuninck-QuickStep are on the front with 22km to go. The trio out front only have 24 seconds, so it's advantage Cavendish and the other sprinters right now.
Three laps remaining.
Kung and Van Avermaet are both up near the front and waiting to strike.
DSM are helping with the chase.
On the outside UAE are just sitting around Pogacar and keeping in him out of trouble. Cavendish is quite far back but he won't be concerned at this point with 20km to go.
19 seconds for the leaders with 18km to go as Deceuninck-QuickStep and DSM do all the chasing.
The gap goes out a bit to 26 seconds but Deceuninck-QuickStep hit the front again with Alaphilippe taking long pulls too. They are determined for obvious reasons today.
Deceuninck-QuickStep line out the entire peloton with 13.8km to go.
B&B fire two riders up the road in a valiant attempt to stop the inevitable.
Franck Bonnamour is one of the riders and fair play given how much of the race he's been on the attack this year. He has about 7 seconds with the three leaders 18 seconds clear with 10km to go.
ISN join the chase now.
Franck Bonnamour has been caught.
Alaphilippe is on the front now with the gap at 17 seconds.
Nothing from Kung yet who looks keen to attack.
8.8km to go and the gap is at 12 seconds.
Just over one lap to go with 7.5km to go.
Cavendish is still well down in the bunch as we hit the final lap.
Two riders from Ineos have attacked and QuickStep are on it in a flash.
A move from Bora is also cancelled.
All together with 5km to go.
Colbrelli is coming up to the front. 4.4km to go.
EF are in the mix too. It's a mess at this point.
No Cavendish moves up with 3.5km to go as Alaphilippe sits up.
Cavendish and Van Aert are at the front.
EF are leading with just over 2km to go.
It's flat out now as more teams hit the front. QuickStep have work to do.
They need to move up, Cavendish needs help.
2km to go.
Cavendish is about 30th down at the moment.
BikeExchange on the front now and Bahrain.
Cavendish is moving up again. 1.2km to go.
Last km and Cavendish follows Van Aert.
Wout van Aert!
Wout van Aert has won the final stage of the 2021 Tour de France.
Cavendish was there but just couldn't come through on the inside. It looked like a tough ask in the final 150m. Wout van Aert, climber, time trialist, and sprinter.
Here's our top ten:
1 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 02:39:37
2 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
3 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep
4 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team BikeExchange
5 André Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
6 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
7 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange
8 Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
9 Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
10 Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Qhubeka-NextHash
No fairytale for Cavendish, not today but I wouldn't bet on him coming back next year and winning that 35th stage. It's been an incredible turn around from last year.
Greipel was fifth, which for his fans and the neutral is great to see.
That sprint from Van Aert was breathtaking though. I don't think I've seen a more complete rider in the 90s, 00s, and the years since.
General classification after stage 21
1 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 82:56:36
2 Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma 00:05:20
3 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 00:07:03
4 Ben O'Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team 00:10:02
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:10:13
6 Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 00:11:43
7 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech 00:12:23
8 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis 00:15:33
9 Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious 00:16:04
10 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-Nippo 00:18:34
Van Aert had the better lead out in the final 700m and then Philipsen was a distraction and wouldn't budge. Maybe just too many variables in the sprint this time around but what an incredible race he's still had.
Wout Van Aert makes his way to the podium with his baby in his arms. It's the Olympics next for the Belgian.
Van Aert, not the baby.
Bahrain Victorious are on the podium now. They won stages, and the teams prize. They were also raided by the police in Pau and a preliminary doping investigation has been launched into the squad. No charges have been made.
Let's hear from today's stage winner Wout van Aert.
"This tour has just been amazing, such a rollercoaster. To finish off with a weekend like this is beyond expectations.
"(Olympics) I made myself in trouble because I have to catch a flight tonight and all these interviews will take quite a while I guess. We'll see if I can get there. It's definitely not a pity that I went for it today because a victory like this is priceless.
Thanks to my incredible small team, especially Mike Teunissen who delivered me into a perfect position."
Pogacar is up next and he's on the podium. He'll make a speech soon.
Always open with a joke.
Here's our race report for today and the final stage of the is year's race.
We'll end with a picture of the yellow jersey.
Thanks for following all our live coverage throughout the Tour de France. It's been an absolute pleasure to bring you daily live coverage.
Don't forget to tune in next week for our Olympics coverage from the road races.
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