The CSC team had controlled the peloton all day but in the final run to the line, the yellow jersey found himself in a group that finished 14" behind the stage winner. Cadel Evans was seven seconds ahead. It means that, for the second successive year, the runner-up is less than a minute behind a Spanish winner.
The top 10 of the 2008 Tour de France is:
1. Carlos Sastre (ESP) CSC - 3,559.5km in 87h52’52" (40.490km/h)
2. Cadel Evans (AUS) SIL at 58"
3. Bernhard Kohl (AUT) GST at 1’13"
4. Denis Menchov (RUS) RAB at 2’10"
5. Christian Vande Velde (USA) TSL at 3’05"
6. Frank Schleck (LUX) CSC at 4’28"
7. Samuel Sanchez (ESP) EUS at 6’25"
8. Kim Kirchen (LUX) THR at 6’55"
9. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) GCE at 7’12"
10. Tadej Valjavec (SLO) ALM at 9’05"
Once again a bunch sprint has concluded the Tour de France. The top 10 in the 21st stage of the 2008 race is:
1. Gert Steegmans (BEL) QST
2. Gerald Cioleck (GER) THR
3. Oscar Freire (ESP) RAB
4. Robbie McEwen (AUS) SIL
5. Thor Hushovd (NOR) C.A
6. Julian Dean (NZL) GAR
7. Stefan Schumacher (GER) GST
8. Robert Forster (GER) GST
9. Leonardo Duque (COL) COF
10. Robert Hunter (RSA) BAR
Carlos Sastre has finished the stage nestled in the peloton. He has become the seventh Spanish rider to win the title of the Tour de France. The 33-year-old was embraced by Stuart O’Grady as he crossed the line.
Gert Steegmans has won his second stage of the Tour de France. He held off a late charge from Gerald Ciolek and Oscar Freire.
It’s the last kilometer of the Tour and the Quickstep team is in control of the peloton.
The bid by Chavanel didn’t last long. The bunch is now being led by Millar and a bunch sprint is destined to conclude the 2008 Tour de Frnace.
Jens Voigt has broken his saddle off his bike. He appears prepared to ride to the finish without a seat.
True to his work, Chavanel has attacked again. He said he’d do so in the final kilometer but he’s gone with 3.5km to go.
With 4,000m to go, Philippe Gilbert has been caught. Now the CSC team has retreated into the peloton and is allowing the sprinters’ teams to take charge.
Vansummeren and another Silence-Lotto rider are now on the front of the peloton. They are about 50 meters behind Philippe Gilbert with 4km to go.
Gerard has been caught but that’s only acted as a catalyst for Gilbert to launch an attack.
There are just 6.5km to go in the Tour de France for 2008. The bell has sounded to signal the beginning of the final lap.
Arnaud Gerard (FDJ) has attacked in the lead-up to the final lap. He has an advantage of 5".
There was talk this morning from the aggressive Cofidis rider Sylvain Chavanel that he would attack in the last kilometer. He hasn’t been seen near the front of the bunch yet today... could he be saving himself or is he exhausted from being on the attack for 420km so far during this year’s Tour?
At the 130km mark, Botcharov has been caught. Now the Gerolsteiner team is moving up on the left of the bunch. CSC has been in control since the action really heated up on the first lap of the Champs-Elysees.
The Russian Credit Agricole rider is insisting with his escape. He has a lead of just four seconds on the peloton that continues to be controlled by CSC.
The peloton was about to catch the three escapees but now Alexandre Botcharov has gone on alone. He has 10.5km to go.
Unlike other ecapees on the Champs-Elysees, Botcharov, Auge and Siutsou are riding in the center of the road and taking the bumps from the cobbles. Others generally try to pedal along in the gutter to reduce the shock on the body from the paving.
With just 13km to go in the Tour, the three escapees have a lead on the peloton of about eight seconds.
Robbie Hunter of the Barloworld team has just punctured his rear tire.
Siutsou, Botcharov and Auge are the three riders in the lead of the stage.
There are three riders now with a slight advantage over the peloton. The instigator of the escape was Siutsou of the Columbia team.
The way the CSC team is riding today, it seems that they’re not content with two stage wins, two prize jerseys and the team classification. They have been in control with five riders taking turns of pace. Absent from time in the wind are Sastre, Andy Schleck and Mr Cancellara. Could it be that they are setting up the world TT champion to have a go in the sprint? Why not!?
As the riders pass the finish line for a sixth time (at the 121km mark) the escapees have been caught.
Vansummeren (SIL), Cheula (BAR), Schumacher (GST) and a Rabobank rider are now attacking.
The move by Barredo and Vogondy last 10km. They were caught at the 117km mark after reaching a maximum advantage of 20".
The points for the sprint at the 24.5km to go mark were won by:
1. Carlos Barredo (QST) 6pts
2. Nicolas Vogondy (AGR) 4pts
3. Volodymir Gustov (CSC) 2pts
O’Grady had been setting the tempo for the peloton since the attack of Vogondy at the 107km mark. Now he has swung up and other CSC riders are coming through doing turns of pace. The advantage of Barredo and Vogondy has dropped to 12".
The peloton is 20" behind Barredo and Vogondy as it passes the 113km mark.
The peloton has caught Arrieta. Barredo and Vogondy have a lead of 20".
Arrieta is trying to bridge the gap to Vogondy and Barredo who are 12" ahead while the peloton is five seconds behind.
Vogondy and Barredo still have a lead of 12". They are now less than 6km from contesting the second intermediate sprint of the final stage.
The peloton has just crossed the line 12" behind Barredo and Vogondy. There are 32km to go in the 2008 Tour de France.
Barredo has bridged the gap to Vogondy and they are about to ride across the Place de la Concorde with a lead of 10" on the peloton.
Vogondy has attacked again at the 107km mark. He is being pursued by a Quickstep rider.
O’Grady and the rest of the CSC-Saxo Bank team have come to the front of the peloton again. They are keeping a high tempo and prompting palpitations from the large crowd gathered in a hospitality tent on the opposite side of the road from the finish line.
Florent Brard is trying to gain an advantage over the peloton with an attack. He hasn’t got any support and is now looking back to see who might bridge the small gap he opened up.
Fedrigo (BTL), Sanchez (GCE), Schroder (MRM) are three of the six riders who were part of the latest attack. They have been caught as the bunch rolled over the finish line for a third time.
There have been a number of punctures in the first laps of the Champs-Elysees. The latest victim of a flat tire is Johan Vansummeren (SIL) but Sebastian Rosseler (QST) also needed to do a chase after copping a flat tire just before the intermediate sprint.
At the site of the first sprint, the peloton was 10" behind Florencio and Gutierrez.
The points at the first intermediate sprint (at the 99km mark) were won by:
1. Jose Ivan Gutierrez (GCE) 6pts
2. Xavier Florencio (BTL) 4pts
3. Joost Posthuma (RAB) 2pts
Florencio and Gutierrez are about to contest the first intermediate sprint today. This is at the 99km mark at the ’Haut des Champs-Elysees’.
Burghardt is being tended to by his team mechanic who has had problems with his bike. While that’s happening at the back of the bunch, two Spaniard have launched a sortie at the front: Florencio (BTL) and Gutierrez (GCE) are now leading the peloton that is being controlled by the CSC team.
The French champion Nicolas Vogondy (AGR) has joined Auge at the front of the 21st stage. They are being pursued by a Milram rider.
The peloton is at the 92km mark and there has been the first attack of the stage. It’s from a rider who was in the first escape group of the 95th Tour de France, Stephane Auge (COF)>
Stuart O’Grady has led Jens Voigt and Fabian Cancellara over the line used for the finish. The Swiss rider raised his left hand to acknowledge the cheers from a vast tent containing guest of the CSC-Saxo Bank team on the other side of the Champs-Elysees.
The peloton has passed under the structure that represents the ’Flamme Rouge’, marking the 1km to go point, but it will do so another eight times before the finish of the 21st stage. There are now 9km to go before the first intermediate sprint.
The peloton has turned left onto the Rue de Rivoli and is now on its way to the Place de la Concorde before taking the sweeping right turn onto the Champs-Elysees.
The nine riders of the CSC-Saxo Bank sqad are at the front of the bunch. The winning team is composed of: Carlos Sastre (ESP), Kurt-Asle Aversen (NOR), Fabian Cancellara (SUI), Volodymir Gustov (UKR), Stuart O’Grady (AUS), Andy Schleck (LUX), Frank Schleck (LUX), Nicki Sorensen (DEN) and Jens Voigt (GER).
The runner-up in the Tour de France is almost certain to be the same as last year. Cadel Evans finished 23 seconds behind Alberto Contador last year and, at the start of the final stage in 2008, his deficit to the rider in the yellow jersey is 1’05". That said, it’s worth noting that one of his compatriots has set a precedent in the 95th race: Scott Sunderland is one of the directeurs sportif at the CSC-Saxo Bank team. The former rider who is from Inverell in the state of New South Wales has is one of the men calling the shots for the winners of the yellow and white jerseys as well as the teams classification. It’s the first time an Australian can claim this honor.
The peloton has crossed the Seine River and is thus now on the streets of Paris. The attacks are likely to start soon. If he has it his way, surely we’ll see something from Mr Sylvain Chavanel, the perpetual aggressor of the 2008 Tour.
There are just 63km to go in the stage. The bunch is just riding through Issy-les-Moulineaux which is where the headquarters of the company responsible for the Tour de France is located. The peloton is at the 80km mark and no rider has been bold enough to attack... yet. Ah, remember the days of Mr Simeoni? The 2008 Italian champion attacked the peloton three times on the final day of the 2004 Tour: once right at the start, once in the lead-up to a sprint and once again as the bunch arrived in the streets of Paris. Alas, no such animated antics today.
At the end of the stage, Belgian rider Wim Vansevenant is likely to become the first rider to take the title of ’Lanterne Rouge’ for a third time in the Tour de France. The Silence-Lotto rider is due to retire from racing at the end the 2008 season. He was last in both the 2006 and 2007 Tours and is currently ranked 145th of the 145 riders still in the race.
Will the peloton allow him the opportunity to lead the peloton over the line for the first lap of the Champs-Elysees? We wait to see who gets this honor.
Going on tradition, the team of the rider in the yellow jersey will lead the peloton onto the Champs-Elysees. A few years ago, as part of a special tribute to the soon-to-be-retired Viatcheslav Ekimov, the veteran Russian was allowed to lead over the line at the start of the first lap of the famous Avenue.
The speed of the bunch is finally starting to rise. The peloton is yet to arrive in the French capital but it seems that the riders are starting to consider the race again after using the first 65km to roll along and reflect on the events of the past three weeks.
When CSC-Saxo Bank presented its Tour de France line-up in Brest, it was emphatically stated that the leader was Carlos Sastre. Others were strong but they were part of the support cast for the Spaniard who finished third and fourth in the previous two editions of the race. Others would win: Kurt-Asle Arvesen claimed the 11th stage, Andy Schleck would take the white jersey and his brother Frank would lead for a few daysâŠ but Carlos was the leader.
Others would control the pace of the peloton and protect the leader from the wind. Others would attack and joins escape groups, only to return to the bunch when manager Bjarne Riis instructed them to do so in favor of supporting Sastre. Others would crash, but Carlos always remained on his bike, biding his time.
âWe have to attack!â That was what all from CSC-Saxo Bank said when Cadel Evans was still within striking distance of the yellow jersey. And attack they did.
In a perfect display of team riding the red, white and black armada assembled at the front of the peloton as it sped through Bourg dâOisans near the end of stage 17. Turning left onto the early slopes of LâAlpe dâHuez, Fabian Cancellara resembled a freight train as he sapped his legs of strength and peeled off. Five others from his team remained up front and thenâŠ bang, he was gone. Sastre shot off from the front of the bunch never to be seen again. He would win the stage, take the yellow jersey and set himself up for the overall victory.
Bravo CSC-Saxo Bank. Bravo Carlos.
As the runner-up for the second successive year there are some who are suggesting that Cadel Evans is the new Raymond Poulidor. The Frenchman finished on the podium eight times during his riding career but never wore the yellow jersey. The Australian can at least boast five days in the lead of the Tour de France. But before he earned the âmaillot jauneâ after the stage to Hautacam, he insists that he didnât really care if he got the jersey then. âWhat matters is that I wear it in Paris.â He wonât.
âWhen I was sprinting in the final kilometers to Hautacam I was doing some calculations,â Evans told LeTour.fr, âand I realized I was close to taking the yellow jersey. I knew Frank [Schleck] was ahead and that he was also in contention. Thereâs a lot of pressure that comes from leading the Tour and I was happy to let someone else lead so early in the race. Then I thought, âWell, Iâll go as hard as I can and let fate decide.â The decision was that he would lead the Tour for five daysâŠ but by just one meager second. Better that, than nothing at all.
Only one of the last 13 final stages of the Tour de France has not ended with a bunch sprint. And with that in mind, the survey on the race’s official site (LeTour.fr) today asks:
In the top 10 of the points classification, five riders have previously won a bunch sprint at the Tour de France. Of this selection who will be best placed in the 21st stage?
Be sure to let us know your thoughts by clicking on the link on the Tour’s homepage.
The peloton is still ambling along on its way to the streets of Paris. It is at the 55km mark of the 143km stage, the shortest non-time trial stage of the 2008 edition.
As a 14-year-old Cyril Dessel rode the highest pass in Europe. On 22 July 2008 he reached the summit of the Bonette-Restefond in second place during stage 16. John-Lee Augustyn beat him to the top of this 2,802 meter high road but his hopes of winning the stage ended as he overshot a sweeping right turn, unclipping from his pedals and sliding down the rocks on the steep verge. The Barloworld riderâs bike continued down the slope while Augustyn himself was pushed up to the roadside to await his team car and a new machine.
By then Dessel and three fellow escape companions were on their way to the finish in Jausiers. With a descent lasting over 25km and gradients that prompted speeds up to 100km/h the final phase of the stage was rapid and risky.
Dessel jumped into the lead in the final 300 meters, speeding around the final right turn, down a small bump in the road and through the final chicane before reaching the line in first place. With no time to raise his arms to the heavens, his broad smile had to suffice for the salute. And what a win it was!
The points at the top of the last climb in the 2008 Tour de France were won by:
1. Freddy Bichot (AGR) 3pts
2. Sebastian Lang (GST) 2pts
3. Marco Marzano (LAM) 1pt
The bunch is on the cote de Chateaufort. As expected, there have been no attacks in the first two hours - Mr Filippo Simeoni, is not part of the Tour this year - and now the games begin to decide which rider will lead over the final ascent of the 95th Tour de France.
It pays to be daring. Luis Leon Sanchez confirmed that risk can have its rewards. During the seventh stage he took a chance at the 55km mark and joined 24 other riders in an escape group. Over the Col dâEntremont he was third, the same position he claimed at the top of the next ascent, the Puy Mary. These were category-two climbs but the knock-out blow of the stage winner would come after he crested the category-three cote de Saint-Jean-de-Donne in second and then power into the lead. Throwing caution to the wind, the Caisse dâEpargne rider descended at speeds that even the bravest riders in the peloton could not match. It was the recipe for a victory that was achieved on the downhill run to the finish in Aurillac.
Sanchez has won in similar style twice in Paris-Nice and each time he gazes into the heavens as he reaches the line and dedicated his success to his brother who died in a quad-bike accident several years ago. In Aurillac, he did the same. Emotion, beauty, aggression, ability, humilityâŠ they are all traits of a sensational stage winner.
At the top of the penultimate climb of the 95th Tour, the points were won by:
1. Bernhard Kohl (GST) 3pts
2. Gert Steegmans (QST) 2pts
3. Bernhard Eisel (COL) 1pt
Kohl is at the front of the peloton as it ascends the cote du St-Remy-de-Chevreuse. He has been joined by another Austrian at the head of the pack at the 47.5km mark.
âIâm not listening when people say Iâm a future winner of the Tour de France. Iâll stay with my feet on the ground.â Andy Schleck has the attributes of a future champion but he didnât want to get carried away with the praise in the year of his Tour debut. âWhat everybody expects from me and what they say about meâŠ well, thatâs just talk but Iâm the one who has to do the work... I will come back one year and try to reach the podium of the Tour. I think itâs possible; why not? But Iâm not going to say that Iâm going to win it one day.â
The best young rider in the 95th Tour was a key domestique for Carlos Sastre but he was also a true performer and a rider who responded to every acceleration on the crucial climb to LâAlpe dâHuez. He was poised to be one of the counter-attack had Sastre been chased down after his initial accelerationâŠ but the need never arose. Instead he marked the rivals of the future winner and still found the power to finish third in the stage. He may not want to hear it, but one day he could win the Tour de France!
The peloton is still riding as one group as it makes its way to the base of the first category-four ascent of the 21st stage.
âAttaque de Chavanel!â This is one of the consistent themes on Radio Tour over the last few years. Sylvain often races with emotion rather than wisdom and he canât resist the temptation to launch himself off the front of the bunch. It doesnât matter if itâs at the start, middle or end of the stage: if heâs not in The Escape, heâs prepared to try and establish one on his own accord.
There were days when he was at the front from the moment the flag was waved to signal the start and times when the Cofidis leader hoped a cheeky move in the final kilometers would net a reward. He wore the polka-dot jersey for a day and was presented with a red âdossardâ as the most aggressive rider of two stages. But he wanted a win. Finally, after three weeks of trying, he earned it. In stage 19 he insisted with an escape that took two hours to establish and joined forces with Jeremy Roy of the FDJ team. The pair arrived in Montlucon with an unbeatable advantage and would contest a nervous sprint. Chavanel led all the way in the final kilometer, stalling to prompt Roy to show his form, before finally surging himself. It was a victory that caused tears to fall. Attaque de Chavanel! It can seem repetitive but the reward would finally be his.
Carlos Sastre has returned to his CSC team car to collect a plastic cup of champagne from his manager, Bjarne Riis. It’s a photo opportunity that is prompting a big reaction from the director of competition, Jean-Francois Pescheux who is asking the motorcycle riders carrying photographers to clear the way...
Oscar Pereiro, was the only rider to start the 95th Tour de France to have previously won the title but still he committed himself to being at the disposal of his team leader instead of racing for personal glory. On the first mountain of the 15th stage, the fearsome 2,744m high Col del Agnel, he was one rider to launch a sortie to test the legs of his rivals in the hope that it would wear them out so Alejandro Valverde would enhance his chance of rising up the rankings.
On the descent his Tour came to a halt with a solid thump at the 80km mark. On a treacherous descent with wet tarmac the peloton increased its speed in the hope of reeling in four escapees. After seeing the motionless body of Pereiro lying on the road after crashing into a barricade, sending him flying down the escarpment and onto the bitumen below.
From that moment on, there were not thoughts of winning or even racing. The pace of the bunch eased and one thing became the focus, the well being of an injured Oscar.
The first hour of stage 21 was ridden at an average speed of just 27.5km/h.
âI had to give it a final push and give it full gas again at the end,â said Mark Cavendish after winning the 13th stage. âWhen I did the initial kick I didnât realize there was a headwind at the finish. I thought, âOh no, Iâm going to have to get a further advantageâŠâ and so I put in another kick with about 100 to go in case I died. I didnât dieâŠâ
At 23, the rider from the Isle of Man represents the new generation. Winning bunch sprints at the Tour de France takes experience as much as speed but in just his second Tour âCavâ lived up to his own billing as âthe fastest man in the worldâ. He won four stages and all were achieved with a phenomenally quick kick in the dying meters of the stage.
âThere is a little bit of a joke going around about how Iâm demoralizing the other sprinters but itâs all in good nature. You know, I can win four stages but Iâm no closer to the green jersey which is what the Tour is all about. You have to be consistently good and Iâm not experienced enough to be consistently good. Weâll still see if I decide to go all the way to Paris.â
He didnât die in Nimes, nor Narbonne, Chateauroux or Toulouse. He was fast, humble and grateful for the support of his team-mates. He didnât go all the way to Paris but the green jersey will surely be his one day.
The pace of the peloton in the first hour is, as usual for the final Sunday, rolling along at a tranquil pace. There have been no attacks and it’s really a time for the riders to reflect on the three weeks of toil.
Known by his fans as âEl Imbatidoâ â The Invincible â the newly crowned Spanish champion Alejandro Valverde demonstrated why he earned his nickname at the end of the first stage. Without a prologue, the opening day of the 95th Tour de France was different to usual but the final climb of the stage to Plumelec helped establish the pecking order of general classification hopefuls. Stefan Schumacher was the first to attack but was reeled in by an emphatic Kim Kirchen who led an elite selection at the head of the peloton out the last turn and appeared destined to take the first âmaillot jauneâ of 2008. He would have to wait. Just as he could begin thinking of the victory salute, The Invincible shifted into overdrive. Valverde won the stage in such convincing style that it seemed plausible that the Spaniard could wear the yellow jersey from start to finish. It wasnât to be. Six others would claim the coveted prize before Paris and El Imbatido proved fallible after all; ninth overall is his fate.
He was the champion of the Giro dâItalia in 2004 and the winner of the youth classification in his Tour de France debut and Damiano Cunego had grand plans for July. He forfeited his place in the Italian three week race in favor of finding peak form for the French one. The Little Prince arrived in Brest with the words âIâm doping freeâ on his left arm and the attitude of a favorite.
Within days it became obvious that he was not a candidate for the yellow jersey: 17th in the first time trial was a hint of what is place in the peloton was. His only top 10 stage place came in Bagneres-de-Bigorre on a day when a compatriot who was not doping free won. At Alpe dâHuez â a site where he finished second in the stage during his only other Tour appearance â he was 18th, over five minutes behind Carlos Sastre. Then came the fateful day; at the 28th kilometer mark of the transitional stage from Bourg dâOisans to St-Etienne he crashed. The peloton sped along at over 55km/h for the first hour while the Lampre leader lay wounded on the ground. Repairs caused a long delay before he set off again. Determined to finish the stage he limped home with the support of five team-mates 20â12â behind the winner. After bleeding for 168km he was whisked off to hospital to have his chin stitched and finally concede defeat. His Tour was over but he was a winner on the day he finished last.
Thereâs a lot more to the Tour de France than victories alone. The editors of LeTour.fr who are based in the âZone Techniqueâ near the finish line of each stage, have spent three weeks reporting on every aspect of the event from Brest to Paris. It is our mission to give as much information as possible with the help of Radio Tour, all the images from France Television, commentary from directeurs sportif, riders, fans and fellow media professionals.
During this final stage, we have decided to post brief summaries of 10 special moments from the first 20 stages of the 95th edition. Itâs impossible to isolate any event that makes the race such a spectacle as there are so many elements that make the Tour what it is, but this selection covers winners, aggressors, crash victims and more. The first installment will be posted shortly.
Hans-Michael Holczer may not have a replacement sponsor once Gerolsteiner ends its commitment with the German-registered squad at the end of 2008 but today the water company’s logo that covers the team car has extra decals. Red dots cover the Skoda that’s driven by the manager of the formation that has won two time trial stages and the polka-dot jersey.
The final stage of the 95th Tour de France has two category-four climbs and two intermediate sprints. Points for the climbers category can be earned at the cote de Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuse (48km) and the cote de Chateaufort (51.5km). The sprint points are awarded on the ’Haut des Champs’ during the second and fifth laps of the finishing circuit.
There have been no attacks but plenty of the usual shenanigans at the start of the final stage. Riders are swapping helmets with photographer on motorbikes and there mood is relaxed early in the 21st stage.
Christian Prudhomme has waved the white flag to signal the start of racing in the 21st stage. Racing on the final day of the 95th Tour de France began at 1.53pm, but in theory alone. It would take a bold rider to attack while the bunch is still essentially enjoying the festive spirit of the stage to Paris.
The whole CSC team has just posed for cameras linking arms at the front of the peloton. The bunch is still in the neutral zone of the 21st stage.
Andy Schleck (CSC) had doubts about his chances of holding onto the lead of the youth classification after the 19th stage. He admitted he was tired and emotionally drained at the end of his first Tour de France. He lost time to his nearest challenger in the time trial of stage 20 â finishing 39 seconds behind Roman Kreuziger (LIQ) â but the younger sibling of Frank will stand on the Parisian podium in the white jersey. He has a lead over the Czech of 1â17â with just 143km to go. Third placed Vincenzo Nibali is well behind with an aggregate time thatâs 17â01â slower than the rider from Luxembourg.
Bernhard Kohl (GST) has known for days that he just needs to arrive in Paris to win the climbersâ category of the 95th Tour de France. He may not have won a stage but he was the most consistent rider in the mountains. He was in the top 10 five times, including the crucial time trial of stage 20. He is the first Austrian to win the polka-dot jersey in the Tour de France after collecting 125 points, 45 more than two CSC riders â Carlos Sastre and Frank Schleck.
All the riders from the CSC team have their handlebars wrapped in yellow tape for the final stage, except for Andy Schleck. The rider who will win the youth classification has white tape to match his leader’s jersey.
If Erik Zabel (MRM) wins both intermediate sprints in stage 21 and also takes first place in Paris, he can add another 47 points to his collection in the race for the green jersey. If Oscar Freire (RAB) scores nothing, then the former winner of the points classification can claimed the sprintersâ prize once again. This is an unlikely set of circumstances.
Freire has amassed 244 points after finishing in the top 10 of eight stages, winning one and being Mr Consistent. He has led the points classification for 12 days and will arrive in Paris to collect his first green jersey baring disaster. Zabel is second with 202 points while the 2005 winner Thor Hushovd is ranked third with 198 points.
He was expected to falter but Carlos Sastre rode the time trial of his life in stage 20 to finish 12th, minimize his losses to last yearâs runner-up and a former winner of a race against the clock at the Tour de France, Cadel Evans. The Spaniard finished behind the Australian but lost just 29 seconds. For the second successive year and Spanish rider will arrive in Paris with a lower aggregate time than the captain of the Silence-Lotto squad.
Sastre leads Evans by 1â05â after 3,415.5km of racing.
The King of the Mountains Bernhard Kohl will make a second appearance on the podium as he joined the winner and runner-up in the 95th Tour, finishing the 2008 race ranked third 1â20â behind the champion from the CSC-Saxo Bank team.
The peloton has just rolled away from the start line in Etampes. The riders in the four jerseys of distinction are all at the head of the bunch as it makes its way through the 4.5km neutral zone.
The final stage of the 95th Tour de France is scheduled to begin at 1.35pm. The 143km journey from Etampes includes 82km that leads the peloton to Paris. The final 52km are all done on circuits in the French capital on the most beautiful avenue in the world, the Champs-Elysees.
The sun is shining as the riders gather at the site of the âdepart fictifâ. It is warm with a temperature of about 26 degrees Celsius and the peloton is about to make its way through the 4.5km neutral zone.
Live coverage of the stage will commence shortly.