The Tour de France concludes on Sunday with the traditional parade up the world famous Champs Elysees in Paris, but organizers have added a twist to make the end to the 100th edition of the race even more memorable. The 21st and final stage is a 133.5-kilometer ride from Versailles to the capital and, to celebrate the sport’s greatest race reaching its century, it will take place at night, turning the finish in central Paris into a floodlit parade.
After completing a grueling few days in the Alps with Saturday’s ride up Le Semnoz, the riders flew north to the capital on Sunday in time for the final stage start in Versailles at 1615 GMT. The peloton will start by parading through the grounds of another of France’s most famous landmarks, the Chateau of Versailles, before traveling south to the town of St-Remy-les-Chevreuse, from where they will head towards the capital. They will enter Paris from the south-west, riding along the banks of the Seine and then past the Louvre before turning towards the Champs Elysees.
The first part of the stage is effectively a parade, a chance for Chris Froome to really take in his yellow jersey triumph. When the riders enter Paris, the Acrobatic Patrol of the French Air Force, who flew over Corsica when the race began three weeks ago, will take to the skies over the capital, leaving a yellow cloud behind them as a salute to the yellow jersey. But the race will really begin when it reaches the Champs Elysees. There, under the lights, and with a loop of a floodlit Arc de Triomphe thrown in for the first time, it will be over to the sprinters to go for the stage win.
Britain’s Mark Cavendish has won the concluding stage in each of the last four years and is the favorite to make it five on the bounce. However, he has had serious competition from elsewhere in this year’s Tour, in particular from Marcel Kittel. The German has won three stages so far to Cavendish’s two and, as he completes the Tour for the first time in his career, he will be hoping to finish on a high too as the race ends around 1935 GMT, just as the sun goes down.