Tour de France Stage 21 Preview
Sunday, July 18
A Spectacular Finale to a Stressful Tour
After starting at Chatou on the Seine River and looping to the west and south of Paris, this final stage reaches the Champs-Élysées circuit after crossing the cobbled courtyard of the Louvre museum. It should again go the way of the sprinters. But there’s one small change: The finish line will be 150 meters farther up the avenue this year. That’s because alterations to the Rue de Rivoli have made the road narrower and the last corner a little tighter. So, moving the finish line back gives the sprinters a better chance to fight with equal arms. There are two scenarios for the two men still fighting in the points competition—in which Mark Cavendish has a 35-point lead over Michael Matthews. The Australian can take the green jersey if he beats the Brit by two places at both the intermediate sprint and the finish, but the chances are that Cav’s still-complete-lead-out train will guide him to the stage victory, the green jersey and the all-time record of 35 Tour de France stage wins. In any case, the final sprint of a very tough Tour will be an exciting spectacle just before sunset in Paris.
FINISH LINE: After eight laps of 6.8km finishing circuit at the end of a flat 700m straight on the 26.3 feet wide Champs-Élysées.
(all times EDT): Ceremonial start, Mail des Impressionistes, Chatou: 10:15 a.m.; start in D910 (after 8.5km neutral to km0), 10:30 a.m.; Côte des Grès (Cat. 4, 100.7km to go), 6:47 a.m.; Versailles (79.2km to go), 11:12 a.m.; Paris (entry to finishing circuit, 55.9km to go), 11:46 a.m.; Haut des Champs-Élysées, lap 4 (sprint, 39.8km to go), 12:10 p.m.; Paris, Champs-Élysées, end lap 8 (finish, 108.1km), 1:16 p.m.
Analysis by Thierry Gouvenou and John Wilcockson.