The final act in this three-week Tour De France drama, the traditional run into a sprint on the Champs Élysées in Paris. Sprinters will battle and as a lot of emotion takes place, we breakdown the betting odds and share our free pick.
Sunday 24th July, 113kms
Tour de France Stage 21 - Chantilly to Paris Champs-Élysées
The sprinters have had some good battles in this race but have had to endure almost a week of agony since the last sprint finish.
It was an epic stage today and we almost landed another winner with Pantano. So, so close, Izagirre came out of nowhere and hugged all three of the leaders. Ironically it was on the descent that Pantano lost it, overcooking a corner as Izagirre pushed on and going on to the grass and he couldn't get back up to Izagirre.
Mark Cavendish has gone home, but all the rest of the sprinters are still here. Kittel has had a disappointing race by his standards, as has Greipel who hasn't won a stage yet. Kristoff has come as close as Greipel to winning, being denied in a photo finish. We've had McLay, Laporte, Kristoff, Coquard, Holst Enger and Sagan all envolved in sprints, can one of them finish off the Tour with a win on the Champs Elysées?
Let's not waste each other's time here, it's not really a route to spend a lot of time describing or reading too much about, they leave Chantilly, go over a few lumps along the way, including the Cat 4 Côte de l'Ermitage, but they enter the circuit in Paris after 57kms and do eight laps of a 6.5km circuit around Paris before finishing on the Champs.
Contenders and Favorites
Marcel Kittel. winner of this stage in 2013 and 2014 loves the sprint on the Champs Elysees and has won the stages pretty easily when he has contested the final stage. But can you trust him after all the times he has been beaten and beaten easily here? I'm not sure I'm prepared to risk it again, Etixx have spent a lot of energy trying to look after Martin (and were pretty awful at it) and Alaphilippe burnt a lot of energy today on the attack. Their lead out has been sketchy at the best of times and Kittel just hasn't had the speed to finish stages off. He will also have been suffering badly in the last two days with his bulk.
Bryan Coquard, on the other hand, is something like 24 kilogrammes lighter than Kittel, so although he will have suffered too over the last few days on the climbs, he will not have been as uncomfortable as Kittel, a point borne out by the fact he finished a good few minutes ahead of Kittel on each of the last two stages. He came very late and fast to take 3rd last year and was very annoyed with himself as he thought he should have won. With betting odds at +1200 each-way I think he's worth a go again.
Alexander Kristoff has come 3rd, 2nd and 6th in the last three years here and looked like the winner last year with 100m or so to go, but Greipel came past him like a rocket in the last 100m, followed by Coquard. He was even closer in 2014, just beaten by Kittel, again, looking like he might win it only to be swamped. He has been improving steadily in this race and could well lead out the sprint again tomorrow, his style is to lead from the front.
André Greipel - he always wins a stage in the Tour, can he save his race in the death? He hasn't been himself in this race, but he did come about as close to winning as you can do on stage 3, but he has regressed from there. It has put me off him a little at +450.
Peter Sagan has been superb in this race and has taken three stage wins and another six top 6 placings. He has finished 7th, 9th, and 4th in the last 3 years on the final stage he hasn't managed to break the podium yet. He is arguably sprinting better than he has ever done though so he could come close this time for sure, especially with Cavendish out of the equation. He did work extremely hard for Kreuziger today to try to pull Kreuziger up on the GC (to no avail) so he might be tired after that. It is such a short effort tomorrow though that he might be alright.
John Degenkolb, Holst Enger, Laporte, Groenewegen, Matthews can all be fighting for 5th to 10th places I think, Dan McLay has looked absolutely shattered over the last week, just managing to stay in front of the Voiture Balai, I'd be amazed if he was fighting for the win in such a hustle-bustle finish as this. In fact, the evens on Bennett to beat him looks like a value pick.
Speaking of Sam Bennett, +10000 with PaddyPower is just far too tempting to leave, he has been feeling much better in the last few days I'm hearing and will be giving it a go tomorrow. He will miss Shane Archbold obviously but if he can be brought near the front in the last 2kms or so he should be able to jump on the Katusha or Lotto train. I think he needs to get on Kristoff or Coquard's wheel and come out from behind them late, but at his best, he'd have a chance aginst these guys for sure. He's probably not at his best of course, but at 10000 he's worth a nibble.
I just can't trust Greipel and Kittel and I think both are beatable tomorrow. Kristoff and Coquard are the two most likely to challenge both of them and at +800 and +1200 respectively I think they both are worth backing. Sam Bennett might surprise a few too.
1pt each-way on Alexander Kristoff at +800 among SBR's Top Rated Sportsbooks
0.5pts each-way on Bryan Coquard at +1200 with Paddy Power
0.2pts each-way on Sam Bennett at +10000 with Paddy Power
Bennett to beat McLay - 3pts at +100 with Paddy Power
Coquard to beat Degenkolb and Groenewegen to beat McLay - 2pts at +125 with Bet365