Champs-Élysées stage in the Tour de France

The Champs-Élysées stage in the Tour de France is the final stage of the Tour de France, that, since 1975, has concluded on the Champs-Élysées, an emblematic street of the city of Paris. As the final stage of the best recognised bike race in the world, winning it is a considered very prestigious.[1]

Champs-Élysées stage in the Tour de France
Le Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 (19992590510).jpg
Final stage on the Champs-Élysées in 2015
VenueChamps-Élysées
LocationParis, France
Also known asFinal stage of the Tour de France
TypeCycling stage race
Organised byAmaury Sport Organisation
Inaugural winnerWalter Godefroot (1975)
Won most timesMark Cavendish (4)
RouteEnter Paris then, six-to-eight times:

The stage typically starts on the outskirts of Paris, and teams agree on a truce for the opening portion of the race, with cyclists taking the opportunity to have a moment of tranquility, laughing, and celebrating the achievement of finishing the Tour de France. The rider leading the general classification - whose lead is by custom not contested on the final stage, though usually it is by that point unassailable - poses for photographs, often taking a glass of champagne on the way.[2][3]

The second part of the race, is more hotly contested. This consists of between six and ten laps of a circuit of the Champs-Élysées, a wide partly-cobblestoned road. Riders try to break away from the peloton to secure victory, though as of 2020 such attempts have only resulted in a victory on six occasions (and on only three since 1979). On the other occasions (except 1989, when the final stage was a time-trial), the winner has come from a mass sprint and has therefore typically been a specialist sprinter. At times this means that the final stage has settled the points classification, which is usually won by a sprinter.[1]

The course was also used for the first three editions of La Course by Le Tour de France, a women's one-day race held since 2014. In these years the race was held in a kermesse-style circuit racing format. A return to the Champs-Élysées was planned for La Course in 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was moved to Nice.[4][5]

HistoryEdit

In the first Tour of 1903, the finish was at Ville-d'Avray. From 1904 to 1967 it was at the Parc des Princes track and from 1968 to 1974, during the heyday of Eddy Merckx, at the Vélodrome de Vincennes.[6][7]

In 1974, Félix Lévitan, co-director of the Tour, and reporter Yves Mourousi suggested a finish on the Champs-Élysées. Mourousi directly contacted French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing to obtain permission.[8][9] The first stage took place in 1975: this was a Paris-Paris stage of 25 laps (163.5 kilometres (101.6 mi)). The Belgian Walter Godefroot won the sprint and Bernard Thévenet received the yellow jersey from the hands of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. In 1977, French Alain Meslet became the first rider to win alone.

Since 1978, the final stage has generally started from outside the city, with only the final part of the stage following the core route. The number of laps has varied between six and ten. Major innovations have generally been avoided, with the notable exception of the 1989 stage which operated as a time-trial. In 2013, in celebration of the 100th Tour de France the stage was shifted to a late afternoon start, finishing in the evening, also entering the Champs Elysées via the courtyards of the Louvre Palace, passing directly by the Louvre Pyramid; these changes have as of 2020 been retained in subsequent years.[10] In 2015, bad weather caused the Tour organisers to declare the overall classification neutralised upon entry to the Champs-Élysées, 70 kilometres (43 mi) before the stage finished.[11]

ArrivalsEdit

 
Cobblestones in parts of the Champs-Élysées final stage, photographed in the 2015 Tour
 
Cyclists entering the Rue de Rivoli in 2007

Due to the high profile of the last day as well as its setting, the stage is prestigious. The overall Tour placings are typically settled before the final stage, so the racing is often for the glory of finishing the Tour and, at times, to settle the points classification. The leader of the Tour de France is, by convention, not challenged for their lead on this final day. Traditionally, the stage starts with champagne served by the race leader's team, on-the-road photo opportunities and joking around.[12]

As the riders approach Paris, the racing heats up as the sprinters and their teams begin the real racing of the day. When the riders reach central Paris, they enter the Champs-Élysées riding up the Rue de Rivoli, on to the Place de la Concorde and then swing right on to the Champs-Élysées itself. The riders ride now a total of eight laps (including around the Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs-Élysées, round les Tuileries and the Louvre and across the Place de la Concorde back to the Champs-Élysées). In past Tours, the riders would complete ten laps before the Tour was over.

When a rider has reached a significant milestone over the course of the concluding Tour, it is customary for the peloton to let him enter the Champs-Elysées section of the stage in first place. Such an honor was bestowed upon American George Hincapie in 2012, in recognition of his final and record setting 17th Tour de France.

While a number of riders will try to pull away from the peloton on the Champs-Elysées, chances of success are slim and these attempts are often seen as one last opportunity for teams to showcase their colors. It is extremely hard for a small group to resist the push of chasing sprinter's teams on the stage's flat circuit, even more so than in a linear race, and the overwhelming majority have ended in a mass sprint.

In early years, breakaway wins did not appear uncommon. A surprising three straight occurred between 1977 and 1979. However, with the advent of modern racing tactics, the feat has become very rare, lending an increasingly valued place in Tour lore to the few who have achieved it. Those are Frenchmen Alain Meslet (1977), Bernard Hinault (1979) and Eddy Seigneur (1994), Dutchman Gerrie Knetemann (1978), American Jeff Pierce (1987), and Kazakhstani Alexander Vinokourov (2005).

General classificationEdit

Although generally uncontested, there have been two occasions on which the last stage saw attacks on the leading position in the general classification. In 1979, Joop Zoetemelk was 3:07 behind Bernard Hinault before the final stage. Zoetemelk attacked on the last stage, hoping to win enough time to claim the victory. Hinault chased Zoetemelk, and beat him for the stage victory.[13]

In 1989, Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon by 58 seconds over a 24 km time trial from Versailles. In doing so, he closed a 50-second gap to win the 1989 Tour de France by eight seconds. It was the first (and only) time trial final stage on the Champs-Élysées. The 1964, 1965 and 1967 Tours finished with time trials to the Parc des Princes, and the 1968 to 1971 stages had time trials to the Vélodrome de Vincennes (Cipale).

In 2005, Lance Armstrong had a comfortable lead in the general classification, but behind him Alexander Vinokourov and Levi Leipheimer were only two seconds apart, on fifth and sixth place. Vinokourov succeeded in a breakaway during the last kilometre and, because of his stage win and bonus seconds, overtook Leipheimer for fifth position overall.[14] As of 2020, this is the last time the stage was not decided in a bunch sprint.[12]

Points classificationEdit

In some years, the points classification was decided on that last stage.

In 1984, Frank Hoste had been leading the points classification for most of the race, but Sean Kelly had taken over the lead on the penultimate stage, with a difference of 4 points. Hoste ended third in the last stage against Kelly fifth, which made Hoste the winner by 4 points.

In the final stages of the 1987 Tour de France, the lead in the points classification switched between Jean-Paul van Poppel and Stephen Roche. Before the final stage, Roche was leading by 17 points, but during the last stage Van Poppel won back 16 points by intermediate sprints. Van Poppel's ninth place in the stage was then enough to win the points classification by 16 points.

In 1991, Djamolidine Abdoujaparov clipped his wheels on barriers. With less than 100m left he tumbled head-over-heels in a spectacular crash. After he regained consciousness, he was helped across the line to clinch the sprinters' competition.[15]

In 2001, Stuart O'Grady had been leading the points classification for most of the race, but Erik Zabel overtook him at the final moment.[16]

In 2003, the green jersey was settled by a close finish between Baden Cooke and Robbie McEwen finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively, that resulted in Cooke finished with 216 points to McEwen's 214.

WinnersEdit

Winner of the last stage in the Tour de France
Year Starting place Distance Stage winner
km mi
1975 Paris 163.4 102   Walter Godefroot (BEL) [17]
1976 Paris 90.7 56   Gerben Karstens (NED)
1977 Paris 90.7 56   Alain Meslet (FRA)
1978 Saint-Germain-en-Laye 161.5 100   Gerrie Knetemann (NED)
1979 Le Perreux-sur-Marne 180.3 112   Bernard Hinault (FRA)
1980 Fontenay-sous-Bois 186.1 116   Pol Verschuere (BEL)
1981 Fontenay-sous-Bois 186.6 116   Freddy Maertens (BEL)
1982 Fontenay-sous-Bois 186.8 116   Bernard Hinault (FRA)
1983 Alfortville 195 121   Gilbert Glaus (SUI)
1984 Pantin 196.5 122   Eric Vanderaerden (BEL)
1985 Orléans 196 122   Rudy Matthijs (BEL)
1986 Cosne-sur-Loire 255 158   Guido Bontempi (ITA)
1987 Créteil 192 119   Jeff Pierce (USA)
1988 Nemours 172.5 107   Jean-Paul van Poppel (NED)
1989 Versailles 24.5 15 (ITT)   Greg LeMond (USA)
1990 Brétigny-sur-Orge 182 113   Johan Museeuw (BEL)
1991 Melun 178 111   Dimitri Konyshev (RUS)
1992 La Défense 141 88   Olaf Ludwig (GER)
1993 Viry-Châtillon 196.5 122   Djamolidine Abdoujaparov (UZB)
1994 Disneyland 175 109   Eddy Seigneur (FRA)
1995 Ste-Geneviève-des-Bois 155 96   Djamolidine Abdoujaparov (UZB)
1996 Palaiseau 147.5 92   Fabio Baldato (ITA)
1997 Disneyland 149.5 93   Nicola Minali (ITA)
1998 Melun 147.5 92   Tom Steels (BEL)
1999 Arpajon 143.5 89   Robbie McEwen (AUS)
2000 Paris 138 86   Stefano Zanini (ITA)
2001 Corbeil-Essonnes 160.5 100   Ján Svorada (CZE)
2002 Melun 144 89   Robbie McEwen (AUS)
2003 Ville-d'Avray 160 99   Jean-Patrick Nazon (FRA)
2004 Montereau 163 101   Tom Boonen (BEL)
2005 Corbeil-Essonnes 144.5 90   Alexander Vinokourov (KAZ)
2006 AntonyParc de Sceaux 152 94   Thor Hushovd (NOR)
2007 Marcoussis 130 81   Daniele Bennati (ITA)
2008 Étampes 143 89   Gert Steegmans (BEL)
2009 Montereau-Fault-Yonne 160 99   Mark Cavendish (GBR)
2010 Longjumeau 102.5 64
2011 Créteil 95 59 [18][19][20]
2012 Rambouillet 120 75
2013 Versailles 133.5 83   Marcel Kittel (GER) [21]
2014 Évry 136 85 [22]
2015 Sèvres 109.5 68   André Greipel (GER) [23]
2016 Chantilly 113 70 [24]
2017 Montgeron 103 64   Dylan Groenewegen (NED) [25]
2018 Houilles 116 72   Alexander Kristoff (NOR) [26]
2019 Rambouillet 128 80   Caleb Ewan (AUS) [27]
2020 Mantes-la-Jolie 122 76   Sam Bennett (IRL) [1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "Sam Bennett: I'd Never Thoguht I'd Win Here with the Green Jersey". LeTour. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  2. ^ Quiceno, Juan Diego (July 28, 2019). "¿Por qué la última etapa del Tour es la más "tranquila"?" (in Spanish). Medellín: El Colombiano. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  3. ^ "Today's back pages: Egan Bernal's 'champagne moment' at the Tour de France". The Week. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  4. ^ Bonville-Ginn, Tim (28 August 2020). "La Course 2020: All you need to know about the one-day race". Cycling Weekly. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  5. ^ Cotton, Jim (17 October 2019). "La Course 2020 to return to Paris". VeloNews. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  6. ^ Augendre, Jacques (2009). "Guide Historique" (PDF) (in French). Amaury Sport Organisation. p. 179. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2010. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
  7. ^ McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2008). "1969-1975, The Merckx years". The Story of the Tour de France: 1965-2007, Volume 2. Indianapolis: Dog Ear Publishing. p. 95. ISBN 978-159858-608-4. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  8. ^ Bonniel, Marie-Aude (July 24, 2015). "Le 20 juillet 1975: première arrivée du Tour de France sur les Champs-Élysées". Le Figaro (in French). Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  9. ^ Loncin, Pol (July 19, 2017). "Le 20 juillet 1975: la première arrivée sur les Champs-Elysées" (in French). Brussels: RTBF. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  10. ^ Fortheringham, Alasdair. "Tour de France 2013: Mark Cavendish's reign on Champs Elysées curtailed by Marcel Kittel".
  11. ^ "Rain forces neutralization of Tour de France finale". VeloNews.com.
  12. ^ a b "Champs Élysées - The most iconic street in cycling". ProCyclingUK.com. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  13. ^ McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2008). The Story of the Tour De France: 1965–2007. Dog Ear Publishing. p. 137. ISBN 978-1-59858-608-4.
  14. ^ "www.cyclingnews.com presents the 92nd Tour de France".
  15. ^ McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2008). The Story of the Tour De France: 1965–2007. Dog Ear Publishing. p. 201. ISBN 978-1-59858-608-4.
  16. ^ Zabel bags the green in exciting finale
  17. ^ "Memoire du cyclisme" (in French). Retrieved 15 February 2010.
  18. ^ "Bradley Wiggins wins Tour de France title". BBC Sport. BBC. 22 July 2012. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012.
  19. ^ Gallagher, Brendan (22 July 2012). "Tour de France 2012: Mark Cavendish sets stage perfectly for Olympic road race glory". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012.
  20. ^ Fotheringham, Alasdair (23 July 2012). "Tour de France: Mark Cavendish enters history as best-ever Tour sprinter". The Independent. Independent Print. Archived from the original on 25 July 2012.
  21. ^ "Mark Cavendish outsprinted by Marcel Kittel in Tour de France stage 12". The Guardian. Press Association. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  22. ^ Hurcomb, Sophie (27 July 2014). "Vincenzo Nibali wins 2014 Tour de France; Marcel Kittel takes final stage". Cycling Weekly. United Kingdom. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  23. ^ "Tour de France: Chris Froome wins Tour de France 2015". Cyclingnews.com. 26 July 2015. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  24. ^ Wynn, Nigal (24 July 2016). "Chris Froome wins 2016 Tour de France as André Greipel takes final stage". Cycling Weekly. United Kingdom. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  25. ^ Fotheringham, William (23 July 2017). "Chris Froome wins fourth Tour de France after Champs Elysées procession". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  26. ^ Windsor, Richard (29 July 2018). "Geraint Thomas wins the 2018 Tour de France as Alexander Kristoff takes final stage victory". Cycling Weekly. United Kingdom. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  27. ^ "Caleb Ewan wins Tour de France final stage, Egan Bernal takes overall honours". ABC News. Australia. Associated Press. 29 July 2019. Retrieved 20 September 2020.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Champs-Élysées stage in the Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons