Tour de France Finishes in Style

The Champs Elysees never disappoints. 2107 Tour winner, Chris Froome

Magic in the French capital

By Roger Childs

Last stage (Photo Cycling News)

16 years ago I ran down the ChampsElysées at 6 o’clock in the morning and there was hardly anyone there.

Yesterday there were more than 100,000 people cheering on the Tour de France riders completing their last stage on the famous Avenue.

Following the final 10 laps of the Champs-Elysées, the finale of the gruelling, three week bike race was carried out with a combination of French flair, style and panache.

There was

  • the rousing playing of the magnificent Marseillaise
  • the fly-past of nine jets streaming red, white and blue smoke
  • the excitable commentator who love drawing out the last syllable of the winners names
  • the statuesque beauties dressed à la mode in the appropriate coloured dresses to match the jerseys
  • the efficient presentations complete with wonderful trophies for the winners.

Highs and lows

The television coverage of the 21 stages of the Tour is a treat for the eyes. The executive producer explained that is not just about the race but a showpiece for the French landscapes and heritage.

Drones have now enhanced the visual splendour of tour filming and provide new aerial perspectives of the plains and mountains, castles and cathedrals, villages and cities, peaks and passes,  lakes and rivers, bridges and tunnels .. .not to mention the biking!

Kenyan born Englishman, Chris Froome, won his fourth tour by 54 seconds: his closest victory. The sprinters green jersey went to Australian Michael Matthews, while the popular Frenchman, Warren Barguil, won the polka dot jersey for King of the Mountains.

Winner Chris Froome

In the general classification, based on overall time, Rigoberto Uran from Colombia was second and Frenchman Romain Bardet was just one second ahead of Mikal Landa, after more than 86 hours of riding!

Inevitably there were casualties, including three top sprinters: Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan (controversially disqualified) and five times stage winner Marcel Kittel. Others who crashed out were 10 times finisher Alexandro Valverde, Welshman Geraint Thomas who won the  first time trial, and strong contender Tasmanian Ricky Porte.

Sadly Kiwi George Bennett, who at one point was ranked in the top ten, had to pull out with sickness.

Survival of the fittest

29 of the 196 were forced to abandon for various reasons. Luck is a big factor: Richie Porte lost control at over 70kph on one side of a steep descent and slid across the road surface to hit a cliff on the other. Irishman, Dan Martin, also came off on the same corner and landed on top of Porte.  Martin dusted himself off, got on his undamaged bike and rode on. Porte meanwhile was off to hospital.

So it’s all over for another year.

Over 160 riders survived a rather circuitous route of 3540km from Dusseldorf to Paris, and had the joy of riding along the Champs-Elysées yesterday in front of the adoring crowds who had gathered from many nations.

Chris Froome, won the coveted maillot jaune once again, but at the presentations his little son almost stole the show. One year old Kellan had his own yellow T shirt with FROOME written on the back, and as Dad came off the podium he nicked his father’s SKY cap!