Belgian champion Wout van Aert managed to win the bunch gallop of the Champs-Élysées after he took the Mont Ventoux stage and the time trial in the vineyard of Saint-Émilion, bagging the last two stages of the 108th Tour de France ahead of his compatriot Jasper Philipsen and Mark Cavendish. The Briton however won the points classification ten years after his first time. Tadej Pogacar won the Tour de France overall for the second time with Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz rounding out the podium.
Attacks by trios
141 riders took the start of stage 21 in Chatou at 16.39. One non-starter: Jakob Fuglsang (Astana). Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates) took the only KOM point available at côte des Grès (km 7) to enter the 63-man strong climbers’ classification. The riders covered 30.8km in the first hour of racing. The race truly started after Pogacar passed the line on the Champs-Élysées along with his whole team with 52km remaining. Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo), Casper Pedersen (DSM) and Harry Sweeny (Lotto-Soudal) created the first breakaway of the day. Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) caught up with them to make it a leading quartet. Pedersen was first to drop down.
One last Champs-Elysées feeling for Philippe Gilbert
It was bunched up again 32km before the end. Another leading trio was formed at the initiative of Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) with superstars Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) joining him at the front. Gilbert enjoyed his last ride on the Champs-Elysées as he announced this is his last Tour. With 27km to go, it was the turn of Brent Van Moer (Lotto-Soudal) and Michael Valgren (EF Education-Nippo) to pedal at the front with Schelling. They got no more than 25’’ lead over the bunch led by Deceuninck-Quick Step.
Third stage win for van Aert
With the help of Cyril Gautier, Franck Bonnamour (B&B) tried to bridge the gap by himself but it didn’t work out. It was bunched up with 6km to go in the last lap as Ineos Grenadiers made the last effort to bring Van Moer, Valgren and Schelling back. Deceuninck-Quick Step kept the peloton under control but van Aert, propelled by Mike Teunissen, launched his sprint earlier and fended off Philipsen and Cavendish to take his third stage win in the 108th Tour de France. He’s the tenth Belgian to impose himself on the Champs-Elysées (since 1975). By beating Cavendish, he maintained his compatriot Eddy Merckx on top of the tally of all-time stage winners, along with the Manxman (34). Pogacar is the first double Tour de France overall winner at the age of only 23.