City Center of Melun
Flying Start: 1:30 p.m. on D.35
Course: With a 1:25 p.m. start, the survivors will have time to
relax before starting this flat final stage of 140km from Melun into Paris.
The last 10 laps around the 6.15km Champs-Elysées circuit will be
the usual warp-speed blur, and then come the awards, the laps of honor
and the evening’s celebrations.
History: The Tour has finished in Paris every year except for
the inaugural race in 1903, when the last stage ended in the suburbs at
Ville d’Avray. From 1904 to 1967, the finish was on the velodrome of the
Parc des Princes, now a soccer stadium. From 1968 to 1974, another velodrome
was used, the Piste Municipale de Vincennes. Since 1975, every Tour has
finished on the Champs-Elysées. Of the 26 winners of road stages
on the Champs, there have been only two repeat winners, Bernard Hinault
(1979 and ’82) and Abdujaparov (1993 and ’95).
Favorites: Zabel has won the green jersey six times, but never
the final stage. He has finished second the last three years, beaten by
Jan Svorada (in 2001), Stefano Zanini (in 2000) and McEwen in 1999. Any
of those three could win again, as could other former winners Steels (1998)
or Fabio Baldato (1996). But the odds, this time, are that Zabel will crown
his Tour career with a victory in Paris.