Today is Bastille Day all around France. And for the first time since I moved here, I am not actually covering the Tour de France. The traditional military parade down the Champs Elysées is being carried out in a restricted setting. And for the riders of the Tour de France, well, they will have to wait a couple of weeks more before they have a chance to ride down this majestic avenue, on the final day of the Tour. So today we look back on the traditional final stage of the world’s biggest bike race, the stage that Les Champs offers, and some of the riders who have been its principal actors.
Ever since the Tour de France first finished on Les Champs in 1975, the Arc de Triomphe has towered over the peloton as it races up and down the cobbled avenue.
Marco Pantani rolls back to his team bus before the final ceremony of the 1998 Tour. Such shots are nearly impossible today as the yellow jersey is immediately whisked away to the final protocol ceremony.
Every year there is an early breakaway as soon as the peloton hits Les Champs and over the years Jens Voigt was a frequent animator.
Although the names of the winner change constantly, the mad dash to the line remains timeless.
At the top of his game, British rider Mark Cavendish was simply unbeatable in Paris.
La Grand Palais is just one of the many monuments that overlooks the final stage of the Tour.
And the bell rings!
For years, the peloton turned around at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe. There was little room for the photographers and you had to camp out early to get your spot.
In recent years, however, the Tour has really put the spotlight on the Arc with the peloton making a full loop around it. One of the only moments in the year where the Arc is not packed with cars, it offers a striking image.
Chris Froome has led the way down Les Champs on four occasions. We will see if he gets a fifth chance.
Seen from underneath, the final dash to the line can be harrowing.
A moment no rider will ever forget.
Bradley Wiggins savors his final moments on Les Champs. Little did he know back in 2012 that he would never return here as a cyclist.