La Défense Arena > Champs-Élysées 115.4km
After a brilliant three weeks, the race finishes with the usual sprint on the Champs-Élysées. Can Van Aert repeat his success from last year? This year he’ll face more competition as none of the sprinters have left the race, we still have all the fast men here and hoping for success.
Another roasting hot day.
They’ve decided to keep it the same as last year, with the extended distance between the final corner and finishing line. As usual, controlling the head of the race as you head into the underpass, with 2km to go, is very important, but not vital. Last year we saw Teunissen and Van Aert hit the front going through Place de la Concorde, making a late move can reap big rewards, but it’s a high-risk strategy. In terms of positioning, you need to be in the first 5 wheels through the final corner to have any hope of winning.
Wout Van Aert – he surprised last year and stopped Cavendish from breaking the record, can he do it again and disappoint the pure sprinters? Winning this stage takes power, it’s all about how much grunt is left after three weeks. His win last year was a bit of a surprise, this stage normally goes to the sprinter who dominates the race, but Van Aert is someone who defies logic. This year he’ll have Laporte to guide him into position, maybe we’ll even see the yellow jersey help out in the sprint train, something we’ve not seen since Wiggins led out Cavendish 10 years ago. Wout came very close to winning the opening sprint stage in Denmark, he’d love to finish the race off by beating the pure sprinters.
Jasper Philipsen – he’s got his stage win, but he’d love to win this stage. He was a very close 2nd to Van Aert last year, he was on Wout’s wheel but didn’t have the speed to come past him. He’s lost two of his teammates throughout the race but still has his final lead out men, but how much energy do they have left after such a demanding race?
Fabio Jakobsen – no Mørkøv, but he still has a strong lead out train for this stage. The team will likely have Cattaneo, Lampaert and Sénéchal as the men to guide him in the final 3km, this is a very strong sprint unit. Yes, Fabio has used a huge amount of energy to get through the mountains, but I’m sure he’s got enough in the tank for one last sprint. The best sprinters have all won on the Champs-Élysées, Jakobsen would love to add his name to the list.
Caleb Ewan – his race hasn’t gone to plan, 9th is his best finish, something that must frustrate him. Back in Denmark, he had good position, but was boxed in and couldn’t sprint. Then he crashed and has spent the rest of the race getting through the mountains and hoping to win this stage. He won here back in 2019, that will give him confidence, a commodity he’ll be short off after a tough three weeks. If he’s going to win, he’ll need a huge ride by Van Rensburg, but the form guide doesn’t suggest Caleb will be crossing the line first.
Dylan Groenewegen – another who’s won here, that was back in 2017, when he launched his sprint just after coming through the final corner, it was a very long sprint! This year’s race can be viewed as a success, he’s got a win, but he would love another. BikeExchange have one of the strongest teams left in the race, they’ve only lost Durbridge in the last three weeks. With Bauer, Jansen, Matthews and Mezgec, they have the best sprint train and are bound to put their sprinter into a good position for the final turn. If he takes the win, the team will be delighted with their race.
Mads Pedersen – has been a little sick, but as the stage is easy, he should be sprinting for the win. He has the experience required for this stage, as does his trusted lead out man, Jasper Stuyven. The problem is the speed of those he’s up against, Mads needs to start the sprint in a great position and then hope to benefit from a sling shot to take the win.
Fred Wright – late attack option 1.
Matteo Jorgensen – late attack option 2.
Given the lead outs remaining in the race, I’ll take a win for Dylan Groenewegen. Thanks for reading over the last three weeks, I’ll be taking a little break this week and hope to be back for San Sebastian.