Tour de France stage 21: Jasper Philipsen fastest in Paris as Jonas Vingaard wins yellow jersey

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Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) won the peloton sprint down the Champs-Élysées on Sunday to put an exclamation point on a thrilling and hard-fought edition of the Tour de France.

Jonas Vingaard (Jumbo-Visma) finished safely in the peloton to seal his first yellow jersey after a consistent and dominant performance for three weeks.

Dylan Groenwegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) crossed the line second, with Alexander Kristoff (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) third.

Three weeks of crazy and unpredictable races were crowned with the final 115.6km stage from Paris La Défense to the famous Champs-Élysées finish towers which is part party, part genuinely nervous racing in what is one of the most spectacular stadiums in all of sport. .

Michael Woods (Israel-PremierTech) was a late-hour non-runner for COVID-19, and the men’s field arrived in Paris with its lowest number of survivors in decades.

A few packs of riders tried unsuccessfully to break free from the peloton, including a late move that included four riders, but the gap was never allowed to widen to more than half a minute. A massive sprint was written in the stars.

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There was a mad dash in the bell tower with Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), Geraint Thomas and Filippo Ganna (Ineos-Grenadiers) popping up to try to catch up with the sprinter teams. The peloton swept across the Arc du Triomphe in single file as the speed reached 70 km/h.

“I can’t believe it. It’s a childhood dream come true. It will take some time to achieve,” Philipsen said after the finish.

“I’m super proud of the team that we can finish the Tour like this, it’s the icing on the cake. It went pretty well for me. I was in a great position, and Groenewegen was had to take off early, and I could stay on its wheel, and I could sprint whenever I wanted.

“I’m happy and proud to win on the Champs-Élysées, it’s every sprinter’s dream. The Tour couldn’t be better. We had some disappointments at the start of this Tour, and some things didn’t go the way we wanted. To finish this Tour in stage 15 and today is just amazing.

Jumbo-Visma avenges 2020 and Vingaard wins first Tour of Denmark since 1996

The riders celebrated their arrival in Paris after three weeks which has qualified some as the best Tour in a decade.

The Dane won two stages while Jumbo-Visma dominated the race with stage wins and shrewd tactics to catch two-time defending champion Tadej Pogačar in the French Alps. The win is the first for Jumbo-Visma and helps ease the sting and disappointment of losing the 2020 Tour on the penultimate stage.

Van Aert won the green jersey, as well as the most combative award, in what was an impressive performance for the Belgian all-rounder. Van Aert won time trials, stages and climbed the highest mountains to become an invaluable ally of Vingaard for three weeks.

Jumbo-Visma celebrates early on Sunday’s final stage. (Photo: THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

This Tour saw Pogačar on the back foot in the second half of the Tour. The Slovenian looked on course to win his third consecutive yellow jersey after a nearly perfect first half until he cracked on the Col du Granon. Despite a series of attacks across the Alps and Pyrenees, Pogačar could not turn back at any time.

Pogačar finished second overall, won three stages and claimed his third white jersey, and is committed to refining his game in 2023.

Geraint Thomas defied expectations by finishing third to finish as the “best of the rest”, reaching his third career podium after his victory in 2018 and his second in 2019. Ineos Grenadiers also won the team classification.

“It means a lot,” Thomas said. “It never gets old, but being on the podium is great fun. Just finishing is an achievement. It’s the pinnacle of the sport, so being here is always nice. I’m going to enjoy it now, and for the offseason, we can discuss it with the team.

COVID-19 was a major factor on this Tour, with more than a dozen riders sent home with infections. Other illnesses and accidents inevitably took their toll, and only four teams made it to Paris with all of its eight riders still in the peloton.

Riders such as Tom Pidcock (Ineos-Grenadiers) and Philipsen won their first Tour stages in spectacular fashion, while veterans like Groenewegen and Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) reclaimed the winner’s circle. More than a few big names and teams went home with nothing.

The North American contingent shone throughout the Tour, with Hugo Houle (Israel-PremierTech) picking up an emotional victory in the Pyrenees to win the first stage of the Tour of Canada since 1988, while Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) led with a solid 13th place overall. EF Education-EasyPost and Trek-Segafredo both came home with stage wins.

As soon as the Tour ended, riders and teams celebrated in Paris and quickly made plans for the rest of the season. Some will appear in post-Tour criteriums, others will head to the beach, and some will immediately return to the pedals for next week’s Clásica San Sebastián in Spain.

The wheel never stops turning.

The peloton begins the last laps in Paris. (Photo: THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

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