Caleb Ewan of Lotto Soudal took his third stage win of the Tour de France and the sweetest of them all on the final day, ahead of Dylan Groenewegen and Niccolo Bonifazio.
Egan Bernal of Team Ineos successfully navigated the final stage to win the Tour de France 1.11mins ahead of Geraint Thomas and 1.31mins ahead of Steven Kruijswijk of Jumbo-Visma.
The final stage of the Tour de France took the remaining 155 riders in the Tour de France on one last dance to the Champs-Elysees and the most famous finish line in cycling. The 128km stage began in Rambouillet, took in two fourth category climbs before arriving at the Champs-Elysees for eight laps of the legendary finishing circuit.
As is customary on the final day, the 21st stage of the Tour de France began at a pedestrian speed as Team Ineos sat up and enjoyed champagne with their team car, decked out in a special winner’s team kit. There were smiles and cheery conversations a plenty as the riders slowly made their way towards the first categorised climb of the Tour. Warren Barguil of Arkea-Samsic and Alessandro De Marchi of CCC Team led the way before being succeeded by the Lotto Soudal duo of Tim Wellens and Thomas De Gendt.
Wellens led the way over the first KOM climb, contrary to the expectations that Romain Bardet would do so in his polka dot jersey. At the next climb shortly afterwards Yoann Offredo of Wanty-Gobert took first place.
Steadily Team Ineos made their way towards the front of the peloton as is traditional for the team of the winner of the Tour de France to lead the peloton onto the finishing circuit. At this point the average speed was just 34.7kph, but that would soon climb. Steadily Team Ineos led the way through to the Champs-Elysees, taking the field around the Louvre on the way. They finally arrived on the Champs-Elysees with 54.7km to go and from there the race kicked off. Geraint Thomas led the way until finally attacks began as the first time around the Arc de Triomphe..
The first riders to successfully gain daylight on the peloton were Omar Fraile of Astana and New Zealand’s Tom Scully of EF Education First. They were joined by Jan Tratnik of Bahrain Merida and Nils Politt of Katusha-Alpecin and together the group of four held a small handful of seconds over the peloton that was led by Deceuninck-QuickStep and Lotto Soudal with 48km remaining.
Scully’s group were fully committed and gradually built up a handy lead of 20 seconds over the peloton. That lead steadily climbed to 25 seconds as a group of three riders went in pursuit of the quartet. Benoit Cosnefroy of AG2R La Mondiale, Kevin Van Melsen of Wanty-Gobert and Joey Rosskopf of CCC Team had a slight lead over the peloton that were being pulled along by none other than George Bennett who was pulling the pack along as he was at the start of the Tour, mixing it with the Deceuninck-QuickStep and Lotto Soudal contingents.
The average speed had lifted significantly to 47.3kph as the second group were swallowed up by the peloton who were now galloping after the breakaway. With 40km to go the lead had come down to 17 seconds but that stabilised at around 20 seconds again as a few riders came to a halt with mechanical problems including Geraint Thomas in second overall. With support from his teammates, however, the defending champion – set to be runner-up this time around – was able to comfortably regain contact with the peloton.
Racing on the Champs-Elysees can unfold in a variety of ways, sometimes it’s a case of breakaway after breakaway trying to go clear; but this time there was a stability in the racing that allowed Scully, Tratnik, Politt and Fraile to enjoy their stay out front . Scully continued to fight for time with his breakaway companions, while behind them Bennett continued to play a starring role at the front of the peloton who still had a 26 second deficit to make up with 23km to go.
With 20km to go the gap was sitting at 21 seconds as UAE Team Emirates and then Dimension Data lent their support to the chase effort, but the breakaway were still holding their ground as they went through 3 laps to go. They were doing a brilliantly resilient job but finally the intensity from the peloton began taking its toll and the break were reeled back to within 10 seconds with 15km to go.
The same characters who’d been leading the way at the front of the peloton continued to do so with Thomas De Gendt and George Bennett forming an unlikely, but certainly effective, partnership at the front of the race. With 14.5km to go Politt and Fraile cracked, leaving Tratnik and Scully to go on their own and try to hold on for dear life.
Scully and Tratnik hit two laps to go with a slender advantage as Bennett spearheaded the chase effort to try and line up Dylan Groenewegen. Meanwhile Sonny Colbrelli of Bahrain Merida suffered a mechanical problem that saw him forced to chase late on; possibly denting his chances in the finale. Finally with 13km to go Scully also sat up and went back to the peloton as Dimension Data arrived en masse at the front of the race in pursuit of Tratnik and what had been so far an elusive stage win.
Steve Cummings led the catch to the Bahrain Merida rider with Deceuninck-QuickStep and Lotto Soudal mixed in among the men in white. Meanwhile Vincenzo Nibali had dropped back to support Colbrelli back to the bunch, and he finally made contact with 10.8km as George Bennett – who’d been so animated on the front for so much of the field’s time on the Champs-Elysees – now sat on the back; his work complete.
With 10km to go UAE Team Emirates moved forward but then shortly afterwards disaster struck for Michael Matthews, with the Australian also forced to stop and change bikes. Deceuninck-QuickStep took over at the head of the race once again along with BORA-Hansgrohe, as the Sunweb rider now faced a surely insurmountable tasks to get himself back in contention for the stage.
With one lap to go it was anyone’s race as the jerseys of Egan Bernal, Peter Sagan and Romain Bardet – in yellow, green and polka dot respectively – could all be seen close to the front of the action. With 6km to go Greg Van Avermaet of CCC Team launched an attack to try and cause what would be an astonishing upset. He was doing at the end of the race what he’d done on the very first day, attacking; but he was soon swept up within about 500m. As he did that Michael Matthews was engaged in a furious chase to try and get back on board with the peloton and he still hadn’t made it quite yet.
With 5km to go Matthews passed Bennett at the back of the peloton and regained contact with the main field; but was it too late? Gradually he worked his way forward through the field as Lotto Soudal pushed onwards to try and line up a third win for Caleb Ewan.
Mitchelton-SCOTT hit the front with just over 3.5km to go, with Matteo Trentin in tow. Racing along at 65kph the intensity was on as the field strung out in a long line. Through the tunnel for the last time Deceuninck-QuickStep led the way but Elia Viviani wasn’t close enough to the front of the race. Julian Alaphilippe took over with 1.2km to go, leaving Matteo Trentin out in front all of a sudden. Eventually Deceuninck-QuickStep rallied with Caleb Ewan, Peter Sagan and Dylan Groenewegen all poised to strike.
But it was Edvald Boasson Hagen who struck for home first and looked strong just as Dylan Groenewegen got up to speed. From nowhere though it was Caleb Ewan who accelerated from six wheels back to take the right hand side as the Dutchman went on the left. The Australian surged forward to take the win from Groenewegen by almost half a bike length with Niccolo Bonifazio of Team Total Direct Energie completing the top 3. Max Richeze of Deceuninck-QuickStep and Edvald Boasson Hagen of Dimension Data completed the top five.