Tadej Pogacar, the beaten champion, has a chat with Eurosport and is asked how it felt to ride into Paris in second, rather than first position on GC: “I was still really happy to be here. I was really proud with my other teammates. We were riding strong. Yeah, it was not bad at all, I was enjoying it a lot today.”
On the brewing Vingegaard rivalry: “I think we [the fans] are going to have a really great next couple of years in front of the television … me, I will for sure enjoy these years on the bike, because I love the challenge.”
Will he celebrate tonight? asks Bernie Eisel for Eurosport. “I guess so. We will see what we have prepared … For sure we’re going to have a nice day, a nice night. Tomorrow I’m already on stage two of the Tour de Femmes, to support my fiancee. Tomorrow I cheer on, then I need to go home and set up some telecoms stuff. Busy life.”
And there you have it. Tadej Pogacar, the two-times Tour de France champion, has to get home and sort out his broadband connection. Then he can start thinking about next year, maybe watch some Tour highlights on YouTube …
On the podium.
Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) has a chat and is asked about his stage 13 win: “It was definitely one of the last options for me in this Tour. I planned to go all in for the first week, but I was a little bit sick before, so to have this stage win is absolutely amazing …
“Cycling is the new national sport in Denmark. It’s absolutely crazy … of course with the start in Copenhagen it was really special for all of us. And to see all these people on the road, we didn’t expect that, not that many people. Of course with Jonas in the yellow jersey it makes cycling grow even more, and now we see half the Danish people here, so that’s pretty amazing.”
Vingegaard, the champion, speaks while holding his young daughter: “It’s just incredible. I mean, now I’ve finally won the Tour. Now nothing can go wrong anymore and I’m sitting with my daughter, and it’s just incredible.
“It’s just incredible, it’s the biggest cycling race of the year, and it’s the biggest one you can win, and now I’ve done it, and no one can take this away from me.
“I always had the feeling that at least I could fight for the win. But I think yeah, in the end, when I really started believing was after Hautacam. I mean, I always believed in it, but then I was really thinking: something has to go almost wrong before I don’t win, that was after Hautacam.”
He is asked about seeing all the Danish fans: “That was really incredible for me. So many Danes here, so many Danes arrived to see me ride in the yellow jersey. I appreciate it so much and I have to say thank you to every Dane who’s here and that has been cheering for me for three weeks now, it means everything to me.”
How will he celebrate? “Tuesday I have to go to Holland … Wednesday in Copenhagen, Thursday in the town I live in, and Friday I’ll be on the couch for one week.
“Of course I’m super happy about my victory now. Of course now I want to celebrate, relax, but then I also want more, yes.”
“Where’s my make-up,” asks south London’s Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorious) when he appears for a chat on Eurosport. “I’ve loved it. I loved it last year, but to be that percentage or so stronger, and be able do stuff in the races, it’s been so much fun … You get so wrapped up in it. It’s only when you look at your phone afterwards that you’re like: ‘Oh yeah, actually, this is the Tour de France’.
“You’re trying to get me a bit emotional again … it’s great, I’ve loved every minute of it. Even the mountains: it’s suffering, but it’s beautiful suffering. It’s been great – I’m happy.”
Peter Sagan speaks! He is asked about the final sprint on Eurosport. “Pretty messy … On the last turn my chain dropped … I started my sprint but Jakobsen was in the front. His chain dropped out … I came over, I gained some positions, but in the end it was not enough.”
There you go: Jaksobsen dropped his chain, says Sagan, which explains why he was nowhere in the end.
How was his Tour? “For me it was quite easy. A lot of years I was dealing with media every day, podium, I did it with green jersey … interview stuff, people around the hotel … just quite good. The average speed was high, every day full gas.”
And what about his performance? “It could be better, it could be worse, that’s life. No victory but I’m here, I finished. It’s quite special [in Paris].
“Wout van Aert is like some kind of new level. If you see his results in Tour de France, it’s very impressive. Sprint, time trial, climb … I don’t know why he doesn’t go for yellow jersey … it looks like easy, he can go [for yellow].”
The outgoing champion, Tadej Pogacar, speaks about his late attack on the final lap in Paris: “It was kind of funny. Thomas and Ganna on the right side, me on the left. Fuck, it was funny, because I said to Pippo [Ganna] two kilometres before, I said to him: “We go for an attack?” And we were sprinting against each other. And i think I was just dead by the Triomphe, on the roundabout, finished.”
Philippe Gilbert, after riding his final Tour stage, speaks to Eurosport: “Happy to be in Paris. It was a tough tour, really difficult, and I’m happy to have made it.”
What made it difficult? Wout van Aert? “Yeah. Pretty much him. No, the speed was crazy, out of control. We went with a plan every day, and it ended up with the opposite. Some days we thought it would be controllable, with a nice [breakaway] group like it used to be, but it would end up with a crazy strong group to chase, and finishing with almost 50 [km/h] average. It was dry every day, so it means fast. A lot of tailwind, so it was really fast, fast.
“It’s nice when you can decide yourself, when you stop. That’s my decision and I’m happy to take it. I enjoyed also today. It was nice, yeah.”
Bradley Wiggins remembers rooming with Gilbert 20 years ago when they rode for Française des Jeux. “I never imagined you’d go on to have the career you had. You’ve won everything there is to win in the sport.”
“The same for me about you,” Gilbert replies. “We achieved our goals, I won the one-day races and you won the stage races.
“My career is not over,” the legendary strong man Gilbert concludes. “I want to rest now, and finish on a good note, I hope to win one more race this year.”
Simon Geschke has a chat with Eurosport: “It was a really fun time in the mountains jersey … if I’d lost it after two days, I’d have been like: ‘That was fun’. But the longer you keep it, the longer you start believing that you can take it all the way to Paris. I thought I had a realistic chance, actually, but on the last mountain stage I made a few mistakes here and there probably. In the third week the energy levels reached their limits and that was it.”
“Too bad, but that’s part of the sport. The head wanted it more than the legs, but at least I got to wear it to Paris. Kind of a strange feeling, but still nice for the pictures, I guess. It’s a privilege to wear a jersey in the Tour de France. For sure I enjoyed it today also although I was only second in the mountains classification … it’s sort of a little achievement, as well.”
Surely you have to question why Groenewegen sprinted so early? It looked like a bit of panic. All he was likely to do was lead out Philipsen, or Ewan, or Sagan, or AN Other. As it happened, Philipsen was in the perfect position to benefit, right on Groenewegen’s wheel. And it was an utterly dominant win by Philipsen in the end. No doubt Mark Cavendish is sitting at home and thinking he could have won that. It was a bad day for both Quick-Step and Jakobsen, who didn’t feature at all.
Today’s stage winner Philipsen speaks: “I cannot believe [it], it’s a childhood dream coming true, this will take a while to realise. I’m just super-proud of the team, that we finished the Tour like this, it’s the cherry on the cake.
“I think it [the final kilometre] went ideal for me. I was in a great position. I think Dylan was forced to launch early and I could really stay in his wheel and do my final sprint when I wanted … I’m super happy and proud that I could win in this Champs-Elysees, the dream of any sprinter.
“It couldn’t be better. We had some disappointments earlier this Tour, things that went not the way we wanted. But to finish off in style like this, to win stage 15 and then again on 21, on the most beautiful stage for a sprinter, it’s just unbelievable.”
Top 10 on stage 21:
1) Philipsen 2hr 58min 32sec
7) Van Poppel
Kristoff (who finished third) sums up the final sprint: “Unfortunately there was a big movement maybe 300m to go, everybody had to stop pedalling a bit, and we lost a bit of momentum, otherwise I think we could have been closer to Jasper … anyway I’m happy with third place. Caleb was maybe a bit angry with me, but I felt I was fair, I made a straight line. I got the wheel of Groenwegen and Caleb was a bit boxed in because of that, but that’s not my fault.”
On the final straight, Luka Mezgec took up the leadout for BikeExchange on the left-hand side. trying to set up Groenewegen. Ewan looked pretty much in perfect position but was ultimately boxed in and didn’t even bother to sprint. Groenewegen was second, Kristoff third, Stuyven fourth and Sagan fifth!
Philipsen got on Groenewegen’s wheel – the BikeExchange–Jayco rider went early – and Philipsen timed it perfectly, completely dominating his rival in the final metres after springing out from behind him and heading for the clear road on the right. Ewan looked unhappy to be boxed in by Kristoff. A really bad Tour de France for the Australian and for Lotto Soudal.
Wow! Philipsen’s second stage win of the race is sealed in Paris! Back down the road, Jumbo-Visma ride across the finish line in formation. Jonas Vingegaard safely negotiates the final stage and wins his first Tour de France.
1km to go: Thomas (Cofidis) attacks!
2.5km to go: Ewan is well placed for Lotto Soudal and has teammates around him. Philipsen (Alpecin–Deceuninck) is right up there. Jakobsen is going to have a say, too …
3.5km to go: Politt leads for a while then pops and drops back. Simmons is there for Trek-Segafredo and Pedersen … The peloton speeds towards the famous tunnel for one final time.
5km to go: Around the Arc for the final time. Ineos are on the front with Ganna. Trek-Segafredo are massed near the front. Politt is up there for Bora. BikeExchange working for Groenewegen. It’s all happening.
6.3km to go: Thomas and Ganna attack on the left for Ineos! Pogacar attacks off the front on the other side of the road! Pogacar isn’t letting his Tour de France crown go without at least reminding us all that he still exists!
7.5km to go: The riders round the right-hand bend which leads up to the start-finish line for the penultimate time. The Arc de Triomphe is visible in the distance. As the bell sounds for the final lap, Schachmann and Rutsch are overwhelmed by the charging peloton. The crowd roars! We are all back together!
8.5km to go: And then there were two. Schachmann and Rutsch are up front together, the two Groupama-FDJ riders having fallen out of it.
9km to go: HUGE ride by Schachmann of Bora-Hansgrohe, on the front again and stamping on the pedals as hard as he can. He has clearly ridden himself into some very good form at this Tour.
11km to go: Schachmann does another turn, then flicks his elbow to ask Jonas Rutsch to have a go. The turns at the front are becoming shorter and shorter as the fatigue really sets in. Are the sprinters’ teams just holding off a touch? No – the gap is now six seconds.
12km to go: Cracking ride by the four up front, this is. They are holding the peloton at around 10sec as they round the Arc de Triomphe. Mind you, the four is now down to three: Le Gac’s tank is empty and he drops back to the bunch.
15km to go: The break’s advantage drops to under 10 seconds. They will be getting swallowed up before too long. Looking grim-faced, Schachmann puts in another desperate dig to try and keep away. These guys are basically sprinting now to try and keep their advantage … and it does creep back up to 11sec to mark the effort they are putting in.
18km to go: Doull has been dropped by the escape group so they are down to four. The gap is holding at 15sec. Le Gac and Duchesne, the Groupama-FDJ teammates, take it up at the tête de la course.
19km to go: The likes of Lotto Soudal are working desperately to set up a sprint. Their sports directors will be yelling down the team radios and no mistake. But will they simply be setting up the likes of Wout van Aert to win in Paris again? If as expected it’s a big bunch sprint, surely Jakobsen or Ewan will have the raw speed to win it …?
How about Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché–Wanty–Gobert Matériaux), a man who has won in Paris before, and who tends to excel when everyone else is knackered?
20km to go: Here we go. Into the final 20km of a truly epic Tour de France. The advantage for this five-man break is 15sec.
The riders in the break are Schachmann, Duchesne, Rutsch, Le Gac and Doull.
21km to go: #LargelyCeremonial
22km to go: Boasson Hagen has a mechanical and grabs a replacement bike. That’ll be another lung-bursting effort to get back into the peloton, let alone do anything to try and lead out his teammate Peter Sagan.