Tour de France Report: Stages 20-21
Show's over, folks
By Larysa Pachulski,
1:08PM, Mon. Jul. 28, 2014
The 2014 Tour de France concluded yesterday. After the jump, our wrap-up of the final two stages.
Location: Bergerac to Périgueux
Terrain: Flat stage
Why you should care: It is the second to last stage of the Tour and while most of the jerseys have been assigned, the riders have to at least finish the last two stages in order to claim their jerseys. Saturday’s stage is also the only time trial stage of the Tour this year.
With Fabian “Spartacus” Cancellara (Trek) – a favorite time trial specialist – out of the picture, fans awaited the outcome of world champion Tony Martin’s (OPQS) time trial. In possibly the only predictable result of this Tour, Martin’s final time annihilated any hope of competition.
In another anomaly for this Tour, there were no serious crashes, though there were a couple of punctured tires. Both Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R) and Romain Bardet (FDJ.fr) punctured, and while Péraud recovered, Bardet was not so lucky.
Naturally, Tony Martin had the best time of the stage with a whole minute and thirty-nine second lead over runner up Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano).
Unfortunately for Bardet, his flat tire led to an overall time gain of two minutes and nineteen seconds, just enough time to bump him from the top five spot to the sixth spot and move American rider Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) into fifth place by just two seconds.
Location: Évry to Paris' Champs-Élysées
Terrain: Flatter stage (One category 4 climb)
Why you should care: Though this last stage is largely ceremonial, the final sprint into Paris is the ultimate stage win for every sprinter in the Tour. This is the first time in five years that famed sprinter Mark Cavendish will not be competing for the sprint into Paris, which should make things interesting.
The stage started out quite slow, with many opportunities for photographs and camaraderie between the riders. The mood was decidedly light. However, once the race picked up in Paris there was one snag: Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R), second place overall by just one minute and twelve seconds, crashed on one of the turns. The peloton was already picking up speed for the final sprint, and riders turned to yellow jersey wearer Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) to see what should be done. It was agreed upon that on this final stage when the winners of the Tour were so close to the finish, that a gentlemen’s agreement should be employed here. The peloton slowed down a little bit allowing Péraud to get back on his back and catch up to the main group, which he did. As commentator Phil Ligget remarked at the time, “This Tour will not lay down.”
Arguably the Tour 2014’s favorite sprinter, Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano), won the sprint into Paris, for the second year in a row, and on top of his already three sprint wins earlier this Tour.
Who Won The Tour de France
Vincenzo Nibali made his way safely over the final finish line of the Tour de France 2014 and became the official winner of the yellow jersey. The last Italian in yellow in the Tour de France was Marco Pantani, a rider that Nibali grew up watching.
With the successful completion of the Tour de France, Nibali also became one of only six riders to win all three grand Tours – the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France, and the Vuelta d’España – in his career, and he is only 29 years old.
In the coverage of the final stage of the Tour, networks recapped the events of the last three weeks and interviewed those riders who had abandoned the Tour. In a race where many top contenders had dropped out, Chris Froome (Sky) was open about his disappointment in not being able to compete, but acknowledged the bike handling skills of Nibali, who was able to avoid crashing out the entire Tour, unlike so many of his rivals. As commentator Bob Roll speculated, Nibali would have won this Tour regardless, only perhaps by less of a time gap had Chris Froome and Alberto Contador been able to compete.
Highlights of Tour 2014
There is never a dull moment at the Tour de France, and this year was certainly no exception. Here are a couple of fan-favorite moments from this year's Tour de France:
The Tour seems to draw especially unique fans. If there was ever any doubt about the popularity of cycling, I would ask all major sports franchises this: “Does your sport have animal fans?” During this year’s Tour both a taxidermied bear and a live elephant were among the droves of roadside fans.
Magic Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) got creative in his methods of gaining just a little bit more time in the stage.
A multi-tasker, Nibali not only won the Tour, but managed to vindicate all of the fans watching at home with a nudge of his elbow.
This year’s Tour has been a great one for the French. Team AG2R was consistently rated the best team throughout most of the Tour, and two French riders, Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), made it to the podium in Paris. The last time two French riders made it on the podium in Paris was in 1984 with Laurent Fignon and Bernard Hinault.
Tour de France 2014 is now over, and so is the career of newly retired rider Jens Voigt (Trek). He rode the entire Tour as the oldest rider in the group (he is 42 years old) on his year-long campaign, “One more year of shut up legs.” I have personally been following the career of “The Jensie” for the last 10 years, ever since I began watching cycling. You will be missed Jensie!