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Tour de France - Cycling: Stage 21 preview

So here we are. The final day of what has been a magnificent Tour de France and as has been the case since 1975, the race will conclude on Paris' Champs-Elysees.

To supplement the drama, the stage is again set to finish at dusk and after a comfortable start where the riders can pose for photographs and sip champagne, it will be all business once the peloton hits Paris' most famous boulevard for the first of eight laps.

The Tour is a fantastic advert for France's almost unrivalled scenery and the shots of the City of Lights only add to the allure. Similar to Sunday at the Masters, where the camera operators mix the beauty of the location with the excitement of the action, the final day of La Grande Boucle possesses a beautiful blend of tranquillity and tension.

After a brutal Tour for the speedsters, those remaining will all be gunning for the victory on what has been deemed the unofficial world championships for the sprinters.

Jumbo-Visma's Jonas Vingegaard's maiden Tour win was all but confirmed with Saturday's second-place finish in the time-trial, behind team-mate Wout van Aert, with Tadej Pogacar only able to finish third.

However, the manner the yellow jersey and his team have raced this year suggests they will again look to be in the thick of the action and have a chance of taking another stage victory.

Van Aert has dominated the battle for the green jersey and having lit up the race with his versatility, can 'Wonderwout' crown what has been a brilliant Tour for his team?

What

Tour de France, Stage 21

Where

Paris to Paris

When

15:30 UK Time, Sunday 24th July

How to watch

Live on ITV4, Eurosport, Discovery+ & GCN+

OddsJasper Philipsen 7/4, Fabio Jakobsen 7/2, Wout van Aert 17/4, Dylan Groenewegen 6/1

Stage 21 route details

Always one of the most contradictory three hours of the sporting year, the final stage of the Tour de France is known as a procession as the first half is used as a celebration of the riders making it to Paris, before the race ignites on the Champs-Elysees.

The cobbles of the French capital's most famous boulevard always make for exciting racing, with the uncomfortable nature of the surface making staying upright a challenge.

Before that, the stage begins at 15:30 so that the finish can take place at dusk and the peloton will snake their way from Nanterre's La Defense Arena around the western Arrondissements before reaching the River Seine at Meudon.

The sole categorised climb, the category four Cote du Pave des Gardes comes at 43.3km and 1.3km long and is unlikely to disrupt the riders' rhythm.

For the last 16 years, the race has finished with a mad dash for the line and will again explode once the group hits the Champs for eight frantic laps.

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Three to follow

Wout van Aert @ 4/1

While most of the big guns will be happy to sit at the back of the bunch and ensure they roll home safely, there is every chance that Vingegaard will be visible in the final as he looks to help Van Aert become just the second rider to win successive stages on the Champs.

Van Aert has been agonisingly close in the sprints this year, finishing second three times, but has dominated the points competition and having soloed to victory in Calais, will be desperate to secure his fourth success of this year's race.

The Belgian worked for teammate Christophe Laporte on Friday and his efforts paid off as the Frenchman kept his cool to take a splendid victory into Cahors, before he won Saturday's time trial for his third stage win of the 2022 Tour.

It will be a case of roles reversed here and look for Laporte to drop off his man in sight of the line.

Jasper Philipsen @ 7/4

Second to Laporte on Friday and potentially the form sprinter as the Tour winds down.

Philipsen looked to have an extra gear on his rivals as he dashed in behind the Frenchman and also had too much in the most recent bunch sprint on stage 15.

The 24-year-old was so confident on Friday that he even appeared to have told his Alpecin-Deceuninck colleagues to sit up and let their rivals chase the break to ensure they were fresh for the finish.

That was costly but he clearly believes he can take on the race and having been second on the Champs in 2021, will feel he can go one better.

Dylan Groenewegen @ 6/1

It feels a long time since Groenewegen won stage three into Sonderborg and like Philipsen and the other sprinters, he has had to battle through the mountains.

Sunday is the last of very few chances in this year's Tour but like Van Aert, the Dutchman has won on the Champs-Elysees, doing so in 2017.

Team BikeExchange–Jayco have enjoyed a decent Tour, with Michael Matthews, seventh on that day five years ago, winning last Saturday in Mende.

A third victory would be something special for a team who came for stages rather than overall glory.

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