Preview — 2016 Tour de France, stage 21
Despite calls from some that the Tour should finish with a time trial as it did in 1989 — which led to the LeMond-Fignon duel — organizers still prefer to host a symbolic parade stage around Paris. This year the route will highlight Chantilly and its magnificent castle, then finish with the traditional circuits of the Champs-Élysées that take the peloton around the Arc de Triomphe. As always, tension will build until the final, explosive sprint.
Greipel triumphs on the Champs-Élysées, Froome wins the Tour
André Greipel (Lotto – Soudal) won the Champs-Élysées bunch sprint to take Sunday’s final stage of the Tour de France as Sky’s Chris Froome finished with the pack to seal his third overall Tour title.
The sprinter’s teams wound up the pace towards the end of the 113-kilometer stage 21 from Chantilly to Paris, setting up a mass gallop on the final straightaway.
Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff was the first to initiate the sprint, but Greipel overtook the Norwegian with 100 meters to go. The German speedster held off a spirited final push from Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) to take the victory, his second win on the Champs-Élysées in as many years and his first win in this year’s Tour.
Sagan finished second, with Kristoff taking third.
Froome rolled across the line a few seconds later shoulder-to-shoulder with the Sky squad that helped him protect his lead throughout the three-week race.
Top 10, stage 21
- 1. André GREIPEL, LOTTO SOUDAL, in 2:43:08
- 2. Peter SAGAN, TINKOFF, at :00
- 3. Alexander KRISTOFF, TEAM KATUSHA, at :00
- 4. Edvald BOASSON HAGEN, DIMENSION DATA, at :00
- 5. Michael MATTHEWS, OBE, at :00
- 6. Jasper STUYVEN, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :00
- 7. Ramunas NAVARDAUSKAS, CDT, at :00
- 8. Christophe LAPORTE, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at :00
- 9. Sam BENNETT, BORA-ARGON 18, at :00
- 10. Reinardt JANSE VAN RENSBURG, DIMENSION DATA, at :00
Top 10 overall
- 1. Christopher FROOME, TEAM SKY, in 89:04:48
- 2. Romain BARDET, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 4:05
- 3. Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 4:21
- 4. Adam YATES, OBE, at 4:42
- 5. Richie PORTE, BMC RACING TEAM, at 5:17
- 6. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 6:16
- 7. Joaquin RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, TEAM KATUSHA, at 6:58
- 8. Louis MEINTJES, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 6:58
- 9. Daniel MARTIN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 7:04
- 10. Roman KREUZIGER, TINKOFF, at 7:11
Froome and his Sky teammates enjoyed some camera time toasting their success with beer and champagne in the early goings as the peloton slowly made its way into Paris. The pack gave Katusha’s Joaquím Rodríguez — who is retiring at the end of the season — the honor of leading the race onto the urban circuit before things began to heat up.
Eight riders jumped clear to form a breakaway that spent several laps off the front with a slim gap as the peloton maintained a relatively high pace to keep things under control. Eight became seven when BMC’s Marcus Burghardt dropped back to the bunch, seven became nine as Sky’s Wout Poels and Luke Rowe joined the escape, and then attacks splintered the lead group.
Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data) tried to solo off the front, but Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Alexis Lustenko (Astana) joined him. Then Lutsenko launched an attack of his own that managed to stick, if only for a little while.
As the other breakers were reeled in, BMC Racing’s Greg Van Avermaet bridged to Lutsenko and then left him behind in the final lap. The Belgian was swept up as the sprinter’s teams increased the tempo in preparation for the seemingly inevitable bunch sprint — though the home nation saw its chances of a final stage victory crumble when Frenchman Bryan Coquard (Direct Énergie) punctured with under 3km to go.
Kristoff launched his move first in the ensuing sprint, but Greipel was right onto his wheel. The 34-year-old spent a few moments in Kristoff’s slipstream before jumping around him and firing off a sprint that no one else on the Champs-Élysées could match. Sagan came closest, but the Slovakian had to settle for second place as Greipel took the victory by half a bike length.
“I can’t describe it. I’m just super proud of what we’ve achieved today. I’ve raced for three weeks for that,” Greipel said.
“The team kept believing in me. We’ve tried many times and we walk away from the Tour with two stage wins, with Thomas De Gendt and myself.”
The win marks Greipel’s 11th career victory in the Tour, though it’s his only stage win in this year’s edition of the race after a few near misses in the first two weeks.
“An early stage win always can be positive through the next three weeks. We didn’t succeed. I lost the third stage with a little bit but we kept trying,” he said.
“I wouldn’t call it frustrating. Sometimes it rains and sometimes it rains longer, but the sun always comes out and this is what we believed in.”
After the busy bunch kick, Froome rolled across the line at a leisurely pace arm-in-arm with his Sky teammates to seal the deal on the overall victory. The 31-year-old grabbed hold of the yellow jersey with a daring downhill attack in stage 8 and then built up a formidable advantage atop the leaderboard in the subsequent time trials and high-mountain stages. His final margin of victory over second-placed Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) stood at 4:05, with Nairo Quintana claiming third overall at 4:21 back.
“It’s an absolutely amazing feeling. It feels like a privilege to be in this position,” said Froome.
“I’ve always had my teammates around me. This race was even tougher [than his previous wins]. We haven’t won the team competition but by far we’ve had the strongest team here — I’m incredibly grateful for that.”
The 2016 Tour de France champion will now set his sights on Rio de Janeiro, where he hopes to follow up his yellow jersey with a gold medal at the Olympic Games.