Events

Tour comes to a climax with Caleb Ewan taking third stage win and Egan Bernal taking yellow

Young guns shine in the final stage of the Tour as 25-year-old Ewan wins on the Champs-Elysées and 22-year-old Bernal wraps up the overall.

Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) took the Tour’s final stage on the iconic cobbles of the Champs-Élyéees in Paris, beating Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) with a late sprint.

The stage win was the Australian’s third of the race, making him the dominant sprinter of this year’s Tour, despite it being just his first appearance.

Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) finished safely in the peloton, cementing his place in history by becoming the first Colombian to take the yellow jersey. The 22-year-old crossed the line as he was congratulated by his teammate and 2018 champion Geraint Thomas. The Colombian’s victory is the seventh for Team Sky / Ineos in eight years.

“I can’t believe I have just won the Tour,” he said immediately after the finish. “It’s going to take a few days before I can fully realize it. This is Colombia’s first Tour and after so much success in other races like the Giro and Vuelta, Colombia deserves it.”

“Today I am the most happy guy in the world,” he said later from the podium, as he spoke in several languages.

Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), who lit up much of the race with his 14 days in yellow, said on the finish line that the experience of leading the race for his home country “was an honor, it was my duty, it was unforgettable.”

“It is a season extraordinary for me,” he continued. “Everyone watches the Tour. Nearly 15 days in yellow touches people, the public have learned how I race and love to, with passion and rage.”

The classification winners and race-animator led the peloton through the neutral zone. Photo by Peter De Voecht-Pool/Getty Images.

As is traditional, the final stage was one of two halves; a 70km stroll from Rambouillet – a small town outside Paris – into the nation’s capital, before an eight-lap circuit race around the city center and the iconic sprint finish on the Champs-Élyéees. Though the front half served purely for champagne-swilling and photography, the second half was full gas, with the win being one of the biggest sprint prizes in the sport.

All the jerseys were settled on stage 20’s showdown on Val Thorens, with Bernal becoming youngest Tour winner in 110 years and scooping the white jersey for young rider in the process. Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) guaranteed himself the polka dot climbers’ jersey, and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) took a record-breaking seventh green jersey.

The first half of the race was all about photos and champagne. Photo: Peter De Voecht-Pool/Getty Images.

After a sedate opening, the pace increased to well over 50kph as soon as the bunch entered the first Paris circuit with 60km to go, and a four-rider group went clear; Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-Merida), Tom Scully (EF Education First), and Omar Fraile (Astana), with three riders chasing behind them.

The chase group of three were soon caught by the peloton, but the quartet out front gained nearly 30 seconds. It was inevitable they’d be caught however. Tratnik was the last to give up on the breakaway effort and finally fell back into the peloton with 12km left.

The evening finish to the race made for spectacular photography. Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images.

Michael Matthews (Sunweb) had to change bike with 9km to go, depriving him the opportunity to take the stage win he’d been looking for all race with his frantic chase back. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) was also caught out with a mechanical in the penultimate laps. He made it back to the group but his long chase back will have burned his legs.

Greg van Avermaet (Team CCC) went on a short flier off the front at the start of the final lap but got nowhere under the red-hot pace.

Deceuninck-Quick-Step took up the race in the final 1.5km, with Alaphilippe taking many of the turns. The Belgian team stretched the peloton, and only around 30 rides remained in contact as many were caught out of position around the tight bends.

With 500 meters to go, Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Dimension Data) launched an early sprint, with Max Richese (Deceuninck Quick-Step) following him after his teammate Elia Viviani was caught out of position. Niccolo Bonifazio (Total-Direct Energie) followed, on Richese’s wheel.

However, with just 150 meters to go,  Greoenewegen and Ewan both came through from far back on opposite sides of the road and both without any leadout men. Ewan’s characteristic unmatchable acceleration allowed him to edge it over the Duchman, taking his third stage of the race in the process.

Ewan celebrates taking his hat-trick of wins. Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

“When we rolled onto the Champs-Élysées, I almost had tears in my eyes, it was such a surreal feeling. I can’t believe I just won the stage,” said the 25-year-old Lotto-Soudal rider.

“The Tour de France started off quite slow for me,” he continued. “But the second half has been unbelievable, I’ve won every sprint in the second half.”

Ineos shepherded Bernal to the line seconds later, before the Colombian was met by masses of family and media alike as he celebrated his nation’s first yellow jersey.