Once again we find ourselves reaching Paris in what seems like the blink of an eye, three weeks of racing around France has seen Chris Froome steadily ratchet up the pressure on his rivals and is now poised to be crowned Tour de France champion for the third time in his career. Stage 21 needs to be safely negotiated first however, a predominantly ceremonial 113km from Chantilly to the famous Champs-Élysées. A stage which allows the race’s remaining sprinters to stretch their legs one last time, thundering along the historic boulevard’s cobblestones as they duke it out for one of the biggest prizes the quick men can get their hands upon.
André Greipel has not enjoyed a great Tour de France and this will be his final chance to try and save his race this year. Though there is no doubt he has suffered in the mountains recently, the fact he now has the best leadout train by some margin will mark him out as a favourite today. This power based sprint finish is traditionally Greipel’s bread and butter type of finale, where if he gets the final few hundred meters spot on, it is hard to imagine anyone bettering him.
Marcel Kittel will be extremely motivated to add another victory upon the Champs Élysées to his palmares and is the favourite for many eyeing up the contenders on the final day. He still possesses a great leadout train, though one which has perhaps been more active in the Alps than rivals Lotto-Soudal, so fatigue may well be an issue for them in the high paced leadout.
Peter Sagan shall end today atop the podium with another green jersey to take home, but there is also a strong chance that he will need to revisit the top step as stage winner as well. He is the least fatigued of the sprinters, though does not often emerge victorious in these blistering drag races to the finish line, yet will still be confident of causing an upset. He has a great talent for following the right wheels and there is little to suggest he cannot time a perfect late surge to the line for another stage victory at this year’s race.
Alexander Kristoff will be a real danger to the likes of Kittel and Greipel today, the Norwegian potentially overlooked by some, despite his well documented ability to dominate towards the end of major races. The Katusha rider has failed to replicate his form from the previous season, though has remained a contender in the more attritional sprints at 2016’s Le Tour de France. He still has support at this late stage of the race and will be assured of a good position once the sprint for the line truly opens up.
John Degenkolb is still on the road to recovery in the wake of being struck by a car on the wrong side of the road while out training a few months ago, though still fits the bill as an ideal candidate for stage honours on the final day. There is no doubt he has the power to hurtle over the cobbles, and combined with the slight uphill drag, there is a good chance we will see him at his best once again.
1st Alexander Kristoff 2nd Marcel Kittel 3rd André Greipel