Champs-Élysées stage in the Tour de France

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Tour 2004
Tour 2007

The Tour de France has finished on the Champs-Élysées every year since 1975. In the first edition of 1903, the finish was at Ville-d'Avray; from 1904 to 1967 in Parc des Princes track and from 1968 to 1974 at the Vélodrome de Vincennes track.

History[edit]

In the first Tour of 1903, the finish was at Ville-d'Avray. From 1904 to 1967 it was at the Parc des Princes track and from 1968 to 1974, during the heyday of Eddy Merckx, at the Vélodrome de Vincennes.[1]

In 1974, Félix Lévitan, co-director of the Tour, and reporter Yves Mourousi suggested a finish on the Champs-Élysées. Mourousi directly contacted French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing to obtain permission.[2] The first stage took place in 1975: this was a Paris-Paris stage of 25 laps (163.5 km). The Belgian Walter Godefroot won the sprint and Bernard Thévenet received the yellow jersey from the hands of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. In 1977, French Alain Meslet became the first rider to win alone. Since 1978, the Tour launched from outside the city. Since then, only the end of the stage follows the route, and the number of laps has varied between six and eight, except for 2003, when the Tour commemorated the centenary of the event, and for 2013, to celebrate the 100th edition of the race, by having riders complete 10 laps of the circuit.

Arrivals[edit]

Due to the high profile of the last day as well as its setting, the stage is prestigious. The overall Tour placings are typically settled before the final stage so the racing is often for the glory of finishing the Tour and, at times, to settle the points classification.

Traditionally, the stage starts with champagne served by the race leader's team, on-the-road photo opportunities and joking around. As the riders approach Paris, the racing heats up as the sprinters and their teams begin the real racing of the day. When the riders reach central Paris, they enter the Champs-Élysées riding up the Rue de Rivoli, on to the Place de la Concorde and then swing right on to the Champs-Élysées itself. The riders ride now a total of 8 laps (up towards the Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs-Élysées, round les Tuileries and the Louvre and across the Place de la Concorde back to the Champs-Élysées). In past Tours, the riders would complete ten laps before the Tour was over.

When a rider has reached a significant milestone over the course of the concluding Tour, it is customary for the peloton to let him enter the Champs-Elysées section of the stage in first place. Such an honor was bestowed upon American George Hincapie in 2012, in recognition of his final and record setting 17th Tour de France.

While a number of riders will try to pull away from the peloton on the Champs-Elysées, chances of success are slim and these attempts are often seen as one last opportunity for teams to showcase their colors. It is extremely hard for a small group to resist the push of chasing sprinter's teams on the stage's flat circuit, even more so than in a linear race, and the overwhelming majority have ended in a mass sprint.

In early years, breakaway wins did not appear uncommon. A surprising three straight occurred between 1977 and 1979. However with the advent of modern racing tactics, the feat has become very rare, lending an increasingly valued place in Tour lore to the few who have achieved it. Those are Frenchmen Alain Meslet (1977), Bernard Hinault (1979) and Eddy Seigneur (1994), Dutch Gerrie Knetemann (1978), American Jeff Pierce (1987), and Kazakhstani Alexander Vinokourov (2005).

General classification[edit]

There are a few exceptions, in which the last stage saw attacks on the leading position in the general classification.

1979[edit]

In 1979, Joop Zoetemelk was 3:07 behind Bernard Hinault before the final stage. Zoetemelk attacked on the last stage, hoping to win enough time to claim the victory. Hinault chased Zoetemelk, and beat him for the stage victory.[3]

1989[edit]

In 1989, Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon by 58 seconds over a 24 km time trial from Versailles. In doing so, he closed a 50-second gap to win the 1989 Tour de France by eight seconds. It was the first (and only) time trial final stage on the Champs-Élysées. The 1964, 1965 and 1967 Tours finished with time trials to the Parc des Princes, and the 1968 to 1971 stages had time trials to the Vélodrome de Vincennes (Cipale).

2005[edit]

In 2005, Lance Armstrong had a comfortable lead in the general classification, but behind him Alexander Vinokourov and Levi Leipheimer were only two seconds apart, on fifth and sixth place. Vinokourov succeeded in a breakaway during the last kilometre and, because of his stage win and bonus seconds, overtook Leipheimer for fifth position overall.[4]

Points classification[edit]

In some years, the points classification was decided on that last stage.

1984[edit]

In 1984, Frank Hoste had been leading the points classification for most of the race, but Sean Kelly had taken over the lead on the penultimate stage, with a difference of 4 points. Hoste ended third in the last stage against Kelly fifth, which made Hoste the winner by 4 points.

1987[edit]

In the final stages of the 1987 Tour de France, the lead in the points classification switched between Jean-Paul van Poppel and Stephen Roche. Before the final stage, Roche was leading by 17 points, but during the last stage Van Poppel won back 16 points by intermediate sprints. Van Poppel's ninth place in the stage was then enough to win the points classification by 16 points.

1991[edit]

In 1991, Djamolidine Abdoujaparov clipped his wheels on barriers. With less than 100m left he tumbled head-over-heels in a spectacular crash. After he regained consciousness, he was helped across the line to clinch the sprinters' competition.[5]

2001[edit]

In 2001, Stuart O'Grady had been leading the points classification for most of the race, but Erik Zabel overtook him at the final moment.[6]

2003[edit]

In 2003, the green jersey was settled by a close finish between Baden Cooke and Robbie McEwen finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively, this meant that Baden Cooke finished with 216 points to Robbie McEwen's 214.

Winners[edit]

Winner of the last stage in the Tour de France[7]
Year Starting place Distance Stage winner
1975 Paris 163.4 km (102 mi)  Walter Godefroot (BEL)
1976 Paris 90.7 km (56 mi)  Gerben Karstens (NED)
1977 Paris 90.7 km (56 mi)  Alain Meslet (FRA)
1978 Saint-Germain-en-Laye 161.5 km (100 mi)  Gerrie Knetemann (NED)
1979 Le Perreux-sur-Marne 180.3 km (112 mi)  Bernard Hinault (FRA)
1980 Fontenay-sous-Bois 186.1 km (116 mi)  Pol Verschuere (BEL)
1981 Fontenay-sous-Bois 186.6 km (116 mi)  Freddy Maertens (BEL)
1982 Fontenay-sous-Bois 186.8 km (116 mi)  Bernard Hinault (FRA)
1983 Alfortville 195 km (121 mi)  Gilbert Glaus (SUI)
1984 Pantin 196.5 km (122 mi)  Eric Vanderaerden (BEL)
1985 Orléans 196 km (122 mi)  Rudy Matthijs (BEL)
1986 Cosne-sur-Loire 255 km (158 mi)  Guido Bontempi (ITA)
1987 Créteil 192 km (119 mi)  Jeff Pierce (USA)
1988 Nemours 172.5 km (107 mi)  Jean-Paul van Poppel (NED)
1989 Versailles 24.5 km (15 mi) (ITT)  Greg LeMond (USA)
1990 Brétigny-sur-Orge 182 km (113 mi)  Johan Museeuw (BEL)
1991 Melun 178 km (111 mi)  Dimitri Konyshev (RUS)
1992 La Défense 141 km (88 mi)  Olaf Ludwig (GER)
1993 Viry-Châtillon 196.5 km (122 mi)  Djamolidine Abdoujaparov (UZB)
1994 Disneyland 175 km (109 mi)  Eddy Seigneur (FRA)
1995 Ste-Geneviève-des-Bois 155 km (96 mi)  Djamolidine Abdoujaparov (UZB)
1996 Palaiseau 147.5 km (92 mi)  Fabio Baldato (ITA)
1997 Disneyland 149.5 km (93 mi)  Nicola Minali (ITA)
1998 Melun 147.5 km (92 mi)  Tom Steels (BEL)
1999 Arpajon 143.5 km (89 mi)  Robbie McEwen (AUS)
2000 Paris 138 km (86 mi)  Stefano Zanini (ITA)
2001 Corbeil-Essonnes 160.5 km (100 mi)  Ján Svorada (SVK)
2002 Melun 144 km (89 mi)  Robbie McEwen (AUS)
2003 Ville-d'Avray 160 km (99 mi)  Jean-Patrick Nazon (FRA)
2004 Montereau 163 km (101 mi)  Tom Boonen (BEL)
2005 Corbeil-Essonnes 144.5 km (90 mi)  Alexander Vinokourov (KAZ)
2006 AntonyParc de Sceaux 152 km (94 mi)  Thor Hushovd (NOR)
2007 Marcoussis 130 km (81 mi)  Daniele Bennati (ITA)
2008 Étampes 143 km (89 mi)  Gert Steegmans (BEL)
2009 Montereau-Fault-Yonne 160 km (99 mi)  Mark Cavendish (GBR)
2010 Longjumeau 102.5 km (64 mi)  Mark Cavendish (GBR)
2011 Créteil 95 km (59 mi)  Mark Cavendish (GBR)
2012 Rambouillet 120 km (75 mi)  Mark Cavendish (GBR)
2013 Versailles 133.5 km (83 mi)  Marcel Kittel (GER)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Augendre, Jacques (2009). "Guide Historique" (in French). Amaury Sport Organisation. p. 179. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  2. ^ Supplement Team 1410 of July 25, 2009. Confirmed by Raphaël Géminiani on the issue of Big Heads of June 14, 2010.
  3. ^ McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2008). The Story of the Tour De France: 1965–2007. Dog Ear Publishing. p. 137. ISBN 1-59858-608-4. 
  4. ^ Suddenly seven
  5. ^ McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2008). The Story of the Tour De France: 1965–2007. Dog Ear Publishing. p. 201. ISBN 1-59858-608-4. 
  6. ^ Zabel bags the green in exciting finale
  7. ^ "Memoire du cyclisme" (in French). Retrieved 15 February 2010. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Champs-Élysées stage in the Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons