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A final time trial in Nice

  • After 110 editions concluded at the Parc des Princes, the Cipale velodrome in the Bois de Vincennes or on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, the Tour de France will finish far from Paris for the first time in 2024, with stage 21 in Nice on 21 July.
  • For this exceptional final stage along the Mediterranean coast, a time trial will decide the title among the contenders. Thirty-five years after Greg LeMond stripped Laurent Fignon of the Yellow Jersey by eight seconds. The stage the day before will be run on the suspenseful roads of the Nice backcountry.

Those who pay attention to the details of the Tour de France's history will point out that the winner of the first edition in 1903, Maurice Garin, although celebrated at the Parc des Princes, inaugurated the winners' list of the race by crossing the final finish line in Ville d'Avray. The public gathered again at the velodrome to celebrate the heroes of the Grande Boucle in 1904 and 1905, whereas the race actually finished a few kilometres from the capital. However, the arrival of the 2024 Tour in Nice is a first, as the Tour's peloton has never finished far from Paris. In any case, the riders will feel they are on familiar ground in Nice, a city which was already on the Tour's programme in 1906, hosted the Grand Départ in 1981 and again in 2020, and has been hosting the world's elite at the conclusion of Paris-Nice since 1933.  

This new finish, conditioned by the logistical imperatives that will already block the Champs-Elysées just a few days before the start of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, is accompanied by a significant sporting challenge as the last stage will be an individual time trial. The sporting qualities of the riders likely to win mean that the Tour could remain undecided until the last few kilometres, as was the case in 1989, the last time the event offered a time trial to close the proceedings. On that day, Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon by 58 seconds to win his second Tour by the narrowest margin in history, eight seconds.  

It is said that records are made to be broken, and the context of a battle of mere seconds takes on a new dimension when looking at the final weekend in general. The riders will be on the region's roads on Saturday, 20 July. They are all aware that the Nice backcountry lends itself to unbridled, high-intensity rides, almost systematically on the final stage of Paris-Nice. So, there could be opportunities just until the very end to rattle the Yellow Jersey.

© A.S.O. / P.Ballet

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