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04:18:29

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And so that is that, folks..

Tadej Pogacar wins the Tour. Mark Cavendish wins the green jersey and stays equal on stage wins with Eddy Merckx, and Wout van Aert continues to confound categorisation.
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On behalf of Felix Lowe, Nick Christian I, thanks for joining us for the Tour de France 2021 live blog. See you in Tokyo, and/or Spain!

Jasper Philipsen takes second with Cavendish in third

And that's a brutal one for Cavendish. He wins the green jersey, but he doesn't get the magical 35th stage. He banged his bars in frustration at the end, but realistically he did pretty much everything he could, just got separated from Morkov in the crucial final kilometre.

Van Aert wins the final stage of the 2021 Tour de France

And he concludes a unique triple of stage wins; an ITT, a mountain stage and now finally a sprint. What an awesome talent.

Cavendish riding van Aert's wheel.

He's lost Magic Morkov!

Flamme rouge!

Still Deceuninck leading the bunch. Wout van Aert has infiltrated their train though! Cofidis and BikeExchange are getting involved too.

3km to go – Alaphilippe dropped

He's done his job now, and it's up to the rest of Deceuninck to deliver their man to the line. They're right at the front of the bunch now.

5km to go – The catch is made

That's the end of the break, and Geraint Thomas is now riding the front of the peloton. Why, G? Are you lost mate? Maybe he's in a hurry to make his flight to Tokyo...

8km to go – No more attack du Franck

Sums up his Tour really. Lots of guts, not much glory. I don't think we've had a more fitting winner of the super combatif prize in some years.

10km to go – Attack du Franck!

Mr combativity gives it one last bash. The B&B rider is attempting to bridge the gap to the breakaway. Chapeau, son.

15km to go – Smiling assassin

Even now at the business end of this super-fast sprint finale, Tadej Pogacar is grinning away to himself in the middle of the peloton. One of the brightest talents to emerge in this sport over the last decade, but he just loves racing his bike.

20km to go – They cross the line once more

And this is falling into place for all you Cavendish fans. Alpecin and DSM are pitching in to help Deceuninck control the breakaway, which all points to the grand finale we all want to see. Well, all of us apart from EF, Bora and Lotto who have their men in the break!

25km to go – That trio has been brought back

And a new trio of riders from the exact same teams has now gone clear. It's Michael Valgren, Brent van Moer and Ide Schelling in the lead. They have 15 seconds, but they're categorically not going to win this bike race.

Cavendish takes fourth at the intermediate sprint

And if that was any indication of how the final sprint will go, Cav will take his 35th stage win at a canter in 38km time. The break took the first three positions, and then when the peloton arrives, Morkov did his usual impeccable leadout, took second after Cav, with Michael Matthews miles away from beating either of them.

40km to go – Pedersen and Konrad swap places

Pedersen managed to get in that break, but he has perhaps been called back to assist his sprinter Cees Bol. Meanwhile, Patrick Konrad of Bora has bridged up and joined the escape. Still three riders in the lead. And they have 30 seconds.

Thirteen riders swiftly brought back

That move was far too big to be allowed any leeway, but a new trio has now gone off the nose and they have eked out 13 seconds. Casper Pedersen, Stefan Bisseger and Harry Sweeny.

A lovely gesture

Look at that, would you. This kid Pogacar is a gent and no mistake.

Pogacar holds up Roglic's number in tribute

Meanwhile poor old Richie Porte is struggling to cling onto the peloton.

50km to go – 13 riders attack

Finally some life in this stage. We've seen a group of 13 try to break away. They've not snapped the elastic just yet. Your man Grandpa Phil is in there!

Ooh-la-Louvre!

The now-customary shortcut through the Louvre is upon us. I do like this bit of this very silly stage.

60km to go – Passing the Lion of Belfort

And that monument indicates we are into the proper racing part of this stage in the very centre of metropolitan Paris. It'll not be long now until this peculiar edition of the Tour de France has reached its conclusion!

70km to go – Tension increases

It's probably only gone from a one out of ten to a two, but we are getting there now.
We'll be on the finishing circuit in around 10 more kilometres.

80km to go – Gilbert to say goodbye in style?

Philippe Gilbert is a real legend of the game and has indicated this will be his final Tour de France. He was always more of a classics guy than a stage racer, but he'll still be warmly welcomed on the Champs Elysees later on. I do hope he'll give it one last attack off the front and take a couple of laps of the circuit solo.

90km to go – Pogacar cagey on Vuelta participation

There have been some rumours swirling around about whether Pogacar will go to the Vuelta or not. A team press release earlier in the year suggested he would, but the latest scuttlebutt is that he won't. In an interview with Alberto Contador just now, Pogacar did very little to dispel any speculation, indicating he would see how he felt after the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

100km to go – Lots of this on offer today..

106km to go – One DNS today

And it's Jakob Fuglsang, the Astana PremierTech rider. He cited a poor reaction to his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as his reason for withdrawing.
Meanwhile. the winner of the super combatif prize at this year's race has been announced and it's Franck Bonnamour, who managed to get himself into a lot of breakaways this year. He also ticks the second box required for consideration for that award, being French.

And the race is underway..

Well sort of. At the moment they're going through all those now-obligatory photo opps for the various jersey leaders. Pogacar is signing Wout Poels' polka dot jersey while riding along, Cavendish (the only one of the three who actually still has work to do) beams at the camera. It's an odd one this year, because Pogacar actually owns three of the four jerseys by rights, so poor old Poels and Jonas Vingegaard are actually just rolling along in colours they're not really 'entitled' to. Nevertheless, the form must be observed!
Now, where's that champers?

I know how you feel, Geraint...

In defence of processions

This here is a good thread by Robyn Davidson on the merits of the processional nature of this final stage of the Tour. Some people don't really vibe with it. Me. I don't vibe with it. So it's good to see the positives outlined in such a comprehensive way.

Bienvenue a Paris

Hello one and all, and welcome to what some in the Eurosport UK team are referring to as 'Cav Day', the day when Mark Cavendish might just secure his place in the hall of Tour De France legends by beating the record for stage wins here at La Grande Boucle. He woke up this morning with 34, the same number as Eddy Merckx. Will he wake up tomorrow with 35 (and a sore head)? Or will some other fast guy deprive the Manx Missile of the storybook ending to this 2021 Tour.

Stage 20 re-cap

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) doubled up – adding Stage 20 to his Stage 11 win – with victory in the individual time trial in Saint-Emilion on Saturday. Race leader Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) came home in a time of 36’50” to take eighth on the day and all but seal a second successive Tour de France win.
Jumbo-Visma rider van Aert finished in a time of 35’53” with Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck - Quick Step) second and Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) third.
The result means that Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) defended their spots as second and third on the podium, with Pogacar holding a 5’20” advantage over Vingegaard heading into Sunday’s processional stage to Paris, where Mark Cavendish will go for cycling immortality.
Read the full report here

Highlights: Van Aert wins stage as Pogacar all but seals yellow jersey with polished ITT performance

‘This kid really could win seven Tours’ – Wiggins on ‘class act’ Pogacar

Bradley Wiggins has called Tadej Pogacar a "class act” who could win seven Tour titles after the Slovenian coasted around the 30.8km Stage 20 time trial on Saturday to all but defend his overall title.
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) won the stage in a time of 35’53” with Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck - Quick Step) second and Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) third. Pogacar - sitting on an insurmountable-looking 5’45” lead over second-placed Vingegaard in the GC - finished eighth on the day after producing a restrained, controlled ride. He goes into Sunday’s processional stage to Paris with 5’20” advantage over the Dane.
Barring incident or accident, Pogacar will win a second Tour aged just 22 and Wiggins said post-race that the Slovenian is a rider of rare talent. It's been a while since we have seen someone as talented as him,” Wiggins told Bernie Eisel at the finish.
He's on the verge of winning a second Tour de France at such a young age. He looks beautiful on the bike.
The UAE-Team Emirates rider only soared into yellow on Stage 20 of the 2020 edition of the race following a spectacular implosion from Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma). But he has been in the maillot jaune since the start of Stage 9 of this year’s race.
And Wiggins has backed him to dominate the sport moving forward.
“He's won this Tour by over five minutes, [and it is] seven minutes to [Richard] Carapaz,” added the 2012 Tour de France winner.
They are big time gaps and he could dominate this sport. We said it before that [Egan] Bernal could win seven. But this kid really could because he's backed it up. I think it's harder to win your second Tour than your first.
“He's come back and he's defending his title with class, and he's picked up where he left off last year on La Planche des Belles Filles. He is a class act. Brilliant.”
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