Underrated Geraint Thomas secures third Tour de France podium – and bids adieu to race?

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Jonas Vingegaard seals Tour de France after Jasper Philipsen powers to stage win on Champs-Elysees - AFP

Jonas Vingegaard seals Tour de France after Jasper Philipsen powers to stage win on Champs-Elysees – AFP

  • Jasper Philipsen wins final stage of the 109th Tour de France

  • Jonas Vingegaard becomes second Dane to win yellow jersey

  • Vingegaard is also crowned the ‘king of the mountains’

  • Wout van Aert sets points record to wins green jersey

  • Tadej Pogacar wins youth classification for third year 

In 2018, he famously ended his victory speech on the Tour de France podium with a ‘mic drop’, hit the Parisian nightclubs with a vengeance, before returning to his hotel for Welsh Cakes in bed with wife Sara at 4am. It was a more subdued Geraint Thomas who celebrated his third place in the biggest bike race on earth on Sunday.

While race winner Jonas Vingegaard deservedly took centre stage in his maillot jaune, having cracked the previously uncrackable Tadej Pogacar over three fantastic weeks of racing, Thomas cut a more understated figure. He brought his two-year-old son Macs up onto the podium to experience the moment with him before returning to the team bus for a few drinks. He promised he would be keeping a lid on things.

“I’ll try not to celebrate as much as I have in the past, because I want to keep racing until October,” Thomas had explained in his final press conference on Saturday when asked whether he would be painting Paris red. “When you can see the end of your career coming, you want to make the most of it. Celebrating, it’s different now. I’ve got a two-year-old at home. We will celebrate, but not as hard as I used to.”

Aware he might be coming across like a boring git, he then quipped: “That’s the one thing that gets worse with age: hangovers.” It was a nice line and subtly reinforced the point Thomas had been making with his legs for the last three weeks.

At 36, this may have been Thomas’s last Tour. He has a contract for next year but admits he is not sure whether he will do one more. One thing is sure, if that is it, it will be farewell to one of Britain’s best, and arguably most underrated riders.

Ineos Grenadiers team's British rider Geraint Thomas (C) and teammates celebrate on the podium after winning - AFPIneos Grenadiers team's British rider Geraint Thomas (C) and teammates celebrate on the podium after winning - AFP

Ineos Grenadiers team’s British rider Geraint Thomas (C) and teammates celebrate on the podium after winning – AFP

That was Thomas’s 12th Tour de France. He has now finished in all three podium positions, having also helped Chris Froome to more than one of his victories. When you think he is also a double Olympic champion on the track, has won Paris-Nice and Gent-Wevelgem, and remains the only man other than Eddy Merckx to win both the Tour de Suisse and the Criterium du Dauphine, you start to realise why his Ineos Grenadiers deputy team principal Rod Ellingworth calls him “massively underrated”.

“When you think about it, Geraint has won more than [Mark] Cavendish or [Sir Bradley] Wiggins across the board, but he doesn’t have the same profile,” Ellingworth told Telegraph Sport on Sunday. “He has been absolutely brilliant for us. I honestly think he’s really underrated by the British public.”

This third place was arguably the best of the lot. Of course, it lacked the wow factor of his unexpected victory in 2018, or his Olympic golds. But considering where he was eight months ago – yet to sign a new contract with Ineos who he felt were “dragging their heels” and obsessing over his age, and about to undergo shoulder surgery after a miserable six months – it was a remarkable achievement.

In 2018 Thomas had the strongest team around him, albeit he began as Team Sky’s Plan B behind Chris Froome. This time, he was up against two generational talents in Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar, while Ineos are certainly not the force they were.

He raced with maturity, poise, patience, and no little humour. Thomas took his gilet gaffe on the opening stage in Copenhagen – he forgot to take it off – with his customary sang-froid, turning something which might have been embarrassing into something positive. That gilet is now on its way to La Planche des Belles Filles with the inaugural Tour de France Femmes, having made its way around France with cycling fans for the last three weeks. It will then be auctioned off for charity.

Jonas Vingegaard seals Tour de France after Jasper Philipsen powers to stage win on Champs-Elysees - EPAJonas Vingegaard seals Tour de France after Jasper Philipsen powers to stage win on Champs-Elysees - EPA

Jonas Vingegaard seals Tour de France after Jasper Philipsen powers to stage win on Champs-Elysees – EPA

Thomas’s easyging nature and self-deprecating humour, joking for instance the other day that he had “attacked for the television cameras” on Hautacam when he ever-so-briefly distanced Pogacar and Vingegaard, will be much missed when he is gone.

Whether that is the last we see of him at the Tour remains unclear. “I don’t know,” admitted Ellingworth last night after Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) won the final sprint on the Champs-Elysees. “Maybe. At the end of the day, he will be 37 next year…”

If Thomas hears him say that, one suspects he will redouble his efforts. Perhaps that was Ellingworth’s intention. Thomas has spoken more than once in this Tour of being fired up by suggestions that he is past it. What is certain is that a new coach this year in Conor Taylor, and a young team around him, have combined to give him a new lease of life. And it would be a great shame if he failed to capitalise on it.

Who knows what Thomas might still be capable of. A Monument perhaps? That elusive Giro d’Italia title? Maybe another Tour podium?  “I don’t know,” Thomas said. “I’ve got a contract until the end of next year. I might stop. I might do one more [Tour].

“I’m still enjoying racing. I don’t just give up just because someone doesn’t believe I can do something. This year I’ve had a different programme in the run up. I did Flèche [Wallonne] and [Tour of] Basque for the first time and it gave me a new lease of life. It kept the body guessing. Never say never. We’ll see.”

Philipsen wins in Paris: As it happened. . .

06:48 PM

Vingegaard confirmed as Tour de France champion!

Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) has ended Tadej Pogacar’s (UAE Team Emirates) two-year stranglehold on the Tour de France to become only the second Dane to take home the maillot jaune, the fabled yellow jersey awarded to the leader of the race.

Vingegaard, 25, made his debut at the race last year when he finished as runner-up to Pogacar, and returned for the grand départ in his homeland a little over three weeks ago as co-leader alongside team-mate Primoz Roglic. Although few had tipped Vingegaard for the overall win, there was enough evidence on show at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June to suggest he was in the form of his life.

Vingegaard celebrates with his partner and daughter - EPAVingegaard celebrates with his partner and daughter - EPA

Vingegaard celebrates with his partner and daughter – EPA

Speaking shortly after crossing the line, Vingegaard said: “It’s just incredible. Now I’ve finally won the Tour. Now nothing can go wrong anymore and I’m sitting here with my daughter and it’s just incredible. It’s the biggest cycling race of the year, the biggest one you can win and now I’ve done it and nobody can take this away from me. First of all I’m super happy about my victory now. Of course I want to celebrate, I want to relax, but then I always want more.”

06:45 PM

Philipsen wins stage 21 at the Tour de France!

Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) does it. The Belgian lands the second stage of the race following a perfectly timed sprint. Wout van Aert, by the way, did not bother contesting the sprint, instead opting to ride over the line with his Jumbo-Visma team-mates.

Wout van Aert - REUTERSWout van Aert - REUTERS

Wout van Aert – REUTERS

Following some good work by his Alpecin-Deceuninck team-mates on the approach off the Place de la Concorde, it appeared as if Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen was in the boxseat and BikeExchange-Jayco may rue having dropped him off a little earlier than necessary for the new longer straight to the finishing line. Philipsen watched and waited, before launching himself and swinging wide around Groenewegen and the rest of the sprinters who opted to race down the left-hand side of the Champs-Élysées

Jasper Philipsen - APJasper Philipsen - AP

Jasper Philipsen – AP

“I cannot believe [it], it’s a childhood dream coming true, this will take a while to realise,” a delighted Philipsen said afterwards. “I’m just super-proud of the team, that we finished the Tour like this, it’s the cherry on the cake.

“I think it [the final kilometre] went ideal for me. I was in a great position. I think Dylan was forced to launch early and I could really stay in his wheel and do my final sprint when I wanted, I’m super happy and proud that I could win in this Champs-Élysées, the dream of any sprinter.

Jasper Philipsen - GETTY IMAGESJasper Philipsen - GETTY IMAGES

Jasper Philipsen – GETTY IMAGES

“It couldn’t be better. We had some disappointments earlier this Tour, things that went not the way we wanted. But to finish off in style like this, to win stage 15 and then again on 21, on the most beautiful stage for a sprinter, it’s just unbelievable.”

Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) took second in the sprint ahead of Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), while Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) was fourth.

06:44 PM

1km to go

A late charge from Benjamin Thomas causes some concern from the sprinters’ teams.

06:43 PM

2km to go

Dylan Groenewegen positioned dead centre. Fred Wright is not too far away, tucked in behind the favourites.

06:43 PM

2.5km to go

Alpecin-Deceuninck are moving up the left-hand side and are looking good, Jasper Philipsen following in the wheels.

06:41 PM

3.5km to go

Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl are getting organised,as are BikeExchange-Jayco who will be working for Dylan Groenewegen. Trek-Segafredo are there, too, with Jasper Stuyven a few wheels back. As usual, utterly chaotic finale.

06:40 PM

5km to go

Filippo Ganna leads the peloton round the Arc de Triomphe for the final time.

06:39 PM

6km to go

Geraint Thomas and Filippo Ganna attack… and then Tadej Pogacar chases them down. The sprinters’ team will not like this.

06:38 PM

7km to go

Just one lap of this Champs-Élysées circuit to go and  Jonas Rutsch and Maximilian Schachmann have been caught by the hungry looking field.

06:37 PM

8km to go

Wout van Aert is looking relaxed, barley touching his pedals, floating along a long way down the peloton. Jonas Rutsch and Maximilian Schachmann’s lead is negligible, the speeding bunch can almost smell them.

06:35 PM

9km to go

Antoine Duchesne pops, leaving Jonas Rutsch and Maximilian Schachmann to lead the stage.

06:34 PM

10km to go

The sprinters’ teams are following stage leaders Antoine Duchesne, Jonas Rutsch and Maximilian Schachmann, leaving just 7sec between the two parties.

06:33 PM

11km to go

Olivier Le Gac has dropped out of the leading group, leaving just Antoine Duchesne, Jonas Rutsch and Maximilian Schachmann to hang out in the front, their advantage whittled down to just 8sec.

06:32 PM

12.5km to go

Wout van Aert is nestled in the bunch, a fair way behind the sprinters.

06:30 PM

14km to go

BikeExchange-Jayco have also got riders up near the front of the bunch. Remember, the new finish line that is 300 metres up the road from it traditional position may favour the classics-type sprinters a little more so Michael Matthews may be challenging here today. The gap at the front is just 10sec with slightly under two laps to go.

Paris - AFPParis - AFP

Paris – AFP

06:27 PM

16km to go

DSM are getting involved near the front of the peloton, can their Italian sprinter Alberto Dainese cause an upset today? Wout van Aert is also moving up the field. The four men at the front are not slowing, their lead is holding at 15sec.

06:24 PM

19km to go

Alpecin-Deceuninck, Lottto-Soudal and Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl are setting a fierce pace on the front of the peloton. Owain Doull, meanwhile, has been dropped by the stage leaders whose advantage is at 15sec with around two-and-a-half laps to go.

06:21 PM

21km to go

Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies), who has finished in the top three before on the Champs-Élysées, is forced into taking a bike change. The stage leaders’ advantage drops to just 13sec, and it is the sprinters’ teams who are controlling things on the front of the speeding pack.

06:18 PM

24km to go

Up around the Arc de Triomphe goes the chasing group, and Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl are looking hungry up near the front. The leading quintet’s advantage is being held at around 20sec and does not appear to be budging, either up or down.

06:16 PM

25.5km to go

Philippe Gilbert positions himself at the head of the field, the 40-year-old Belgian will be hoping to help set-up Australian sprinter and Lotto-Soudal team-mate Caleb Ewan in a short while.

06:15 PM

27km to go

Owain Doull, Antoine Duchesne, Olivier Le Gac, Jonas Rutsch and Maximilian Schachmann swing off the Place de la Concorde and onto the Champs-Élysées. They have four more laps of this fast circuit to complete.

06:12 PM

29km to go

Groupama-FDJ team-mates Antoine Duchesne and Olivier Le Gac have managed to haul themselves over to the leading group which now leads the peloton by 11sec.

06:10 PM

31km to go

All change on the front. Two EF Education-EasyPost riders – Owain Doull and Jonas Rutsch – now lead, along with Maximilian Schachmann from Bora-Hansgrohe.

06:08 PM

32km to go

This sextet at the front are riding through-and-off, but the group is growing. Mikkel Frolich Honore of Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl has bridged over, as has Welshman Owain Doull.

06:05 PM

35km to go

Matteo Jorgenson, the American who rides for Movistar, has managed to bridge over to the stage leaders.

06:04 PM

36km to go

Mattia Cattaneo was forced to stop after the Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl rider appeared to ship a chain. He will need to get back into the bunch pretty pronto to be any help to team-mate Fabio Jakobsen.

06:03 PM

37.5km to go

The leading quintet in this final stage at the Tour de France has seen its advantage drop down to just 6sec.

06:01 PM

40km to go

Daniel Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers), the Colombian sprinter who has had a disappointing Tour de France by his standards, has bridged over to the stage leaders. Bissegger wins the intermediate sprint to add 20 points to his tally,, but that will make no difference to much other than Ef Education-EasyPost’s paltry prize pot.

05:58 PM

41km to go

The four-man group of  Stefan Bissegger, Mathieu Burgaudeau, Stan Dewulf and Jan Tratnik lead the stage by 7sec.

05:55 PM

44km to go

TotalEnergies send Mathieu Burgaudeau off up the road to join stage leader Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-EasyPost), Stan Dewulf (Ag2r-Citroën) and Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious).

05:54 PM

46km to go

All back as one and Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl have a rider on the front. The Belgian team who have one one stage at this year’s race – stage two through Fabio Jakobsen – are clearly looking to control the stage which is, as expected, fast and frenetic following what was a very slow start to the day.

05:51 PM

47.5km to go

Groupama-FDJ look to be chasing though their time trial specialist Stefan Küng, perhaps attempting to get a rider over to the leading group, while Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl who will be hoping to challenge for the stage through Dutch sprinter Fabio Jakobsen, have numbers near the front of the speeding bunch.

05:48 PM

50km to go

Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r-Citroën), Krists Neilands (Israel-Premier Tech) and Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) have attacked and gained a narrow lead over the peloton. Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) is chasing on.

05:45 PM

53km to go

Onto the Champs-Élysées goes the peloton and Jonas Rutsch (EF Education-EasyPost) is thge first rider to attack, before Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victoriou) counter-attacks and clips off the front up towards the Arc de Triomphe.

05:42 PM

Here we go . . .

Through the grounds of the Louvre Museum the Jumbo-Visma boys buzz. Dappled in sunlight, Paris is most certainly en fête as it awaits the world’s biggest bike race to its favourite street.

Vingegaard  - GETTY IMAGESVingegaard  - GETTY IMAGES

Vingegaard – GETTY IMAGES

05:39 PM

58km to go

Tiesj Benoot sits on the front of the bunch as the pace winds up. Suddenly it looks as if a few nerves are rippling through the lined out peloton.

05:35 PM

Calm before the storm

Jasper Philipsen chats with Michael Matthews and Tadej Pogacar  - APJasper Philipsen chats with Michael Matthews and Tadej Pogacar  - AP

Jasper Philipsen chats with Michael Matthews and Tadej Pogacar – AP

05:31 PM

64km to go

Tiesj Benoot has been sharing ‘the work’ with team-mate Sepp Kuss at the front of the peloton as they near the Champs-Élysées. Not long to go now before racing actually starts properly. Once onto the cobbled boulevard, the pace will increase ahead of what promises to be a hectic finale.

05:26 PM

67.5km to go

Fabio Jakobsen (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), the Dutch sprinter who will be hoping to challenge for the stage win today, hangs off the rear of the peloton and looks to be in search of a fresh bidon. Close followers of the Tour will remember that Jakobsen’s team-mate and lead-out man par excellence Michael Morkov finished outside of the time limit on stage 15 and so will not be on hand today.

05:23 PM

Pogacar speaks

Speaking to Eurosport ahead of the stage, Tadej Pogacar said: “I can be really happy with this Tour de France. We wanted to win, but we can be proud. I’m really happy and I’m looking forward for the new challenges. Stage wins are always incredible in the Tour. First one, two years ago, was something incredible, I come this year and I won a stage again, it’s something I cannot describe, for me it’s why it’s so beautiful, this racing.”

05:18 PM

72.3km

Simon Geschke has taken the solitary point up for grabs in the mountains classification today atop the category four Côte du Pavé des Gardes. It will not make a jot of difference to the final standings in that particular competition, but will give the German and his team a few more euros in prize money.

05:12 PM

75km to go

David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), who will become the highest-placed French finisher at fourth since Romain Bardet came third in 2017, is spotted riding along with a handful of bidons stuffed down his jersey as the peloton inches ever closer to the centre of Paris. It is another hot day and so I’m sure Gaudu’s team-mates will appreciate that.

05:06 PM

80km to go

The Jumbo-Visma boys have a customary glass of something bubbly, all lined out at the front of the peloton posing for the cameras. I’d be interested to know if there is actually Champagne in those plastic flutes, or simply fizzy apple juice? Not sure I’d fancy getting involved in a sprint later if I was Wout van Aert after taking on any alcohol. In fact, I cannot think of anything scarier than sprinting over cobbles half cut.

The Jumbo-Visma boys - REUTERSThe Jumbo-Visma boys - REUTERS

The Jumbo-Visma boys – REUTERS

04:57 PM

85km to go

The peloton pushes on towards Paris - APThe peloton pushes on towards Paris - AP

The peloton pushes on towards Paris – AP

04:50 PM

Bringing home the bacon

Nice touch a few minutes ago when a group of Danish riders shifted towards the front of the race for their group photograph.

04:43 PM

Bettiol is snap happy

Alberto Bettiol whose riding on the front of the peloton during the cobbled stage raised a few eyebrows – his team-mate Neilson Powless was in the five-man breakaway up the road – before producing a strong ride on the road to Mende, has been getting involved in the fun and games on the slow road to Paris.

Alberto Bettiol - GETTY IMAGESAlberto Bettiol - GETTY IMAGES

Alberto Bettiol – GETTY IMAGES

04:39 PM

Matthews extends with BikeExchange-Jayco

Stage 14 winner Michael Matthews rolls through the bunch and looks fairly happy with himself. The Australian, incidentally, signed a contract extension with BikeExchange-Jayco earlier today and will stay at the team until 2025.

Michael Matthews  - REUTERSMichael Matthews  - REUTERS

Michael Matthews – REUTERS

In a team statement, general manager Brent Copeland said: “We are very happy to be able to set up a strong base for the coming three years with such a strong riders list, led by Simon Yates and Michael Matthews with their renewals. It was important for us to keep Matthews in the team, he is a great example for all team members, and we are confident he will deliver more great results but also inspire our younger riders; he is a great role model.

04:32 PM

95km to go

Jumbo-Visma’s remaining five riders – Tiesj Benoot, Sepp Kuss, Christophe Laporte, Wout van Aert and Jonas Vingegaard – roll to the front of the bunch to get their photograph taken. Worth remembering that despite the relaxed appearance of the squad, they will be hoping to seal a seventh stage win today through Van Aert.

Tiesj Benoot (left to right), Wout van Aert, Jonas Vingegaard, Sepp Kuss and Christophe Laporte - GETTY IMAGESTiesj Benoot (left to right), Wout van Aert, Jonas Vingegaard, Sepp Kuss and Christophe Laporte - GETTY IMAGES

Tiesj Benoot (left to right), Wout van Aert, Jonas Vingegaard, Sepp Kuss and Christophe Laporte – GETTY IMAGES

04:21 PM

102.5km to go

Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), the popular Dutchman who we have not seen too much of at this year’s race, is spotted dangling off the rear of the pack. These riders are going so slow at the moment, my pal Jordan who rides with a basket on his handlebars while wearing a flappy jersey, could even keep up.

04:15 PM

105km to go

So relaxed is the mood in the peloton right now, Luke Rowe was able to drop back to the team car to pick up some sun cream. The Ineos Grenadiers rider stops at the roadside to apply said cream while giving the TV cameras a wave. The Welshman is already on the beach!

04:11 PM

Gilbert ready to say ‘goodbye’ to the Tour

Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal), the veteran puncheur who is retiring at the end of the season, rolls towards the front of the slow-moving peloton to have a chat with fellow Belgian Wout van Aert.

04:09 PM

Incredible statistic

04:04 PM

Wiebes quotes from DSM

After winning the opening stage of the Tour de France Femmes earlier, Wiebes said: “It’s amazing, the team did an amazing job. As a whole team we worked towards this moment, also all of the people working hard at headquarters, so I’m really happy with the win. It was a really chaotic and long sprint. We expected Marianne would do a long sprint but I was able to kick once more, so it’s nice to win. I was quite relaxed before the start, we did everything as normal, we saw it as a normal race. Of course I was a bit nervous towards the final but I’m really happy to finish it off. It’s special to wear the yellow jersey. I think the whole team deserved this after the amazing season we have already had. We’re ready for the next days now.”

04:01 PM

110km to go

Just heard that Michael Woods was a non-starter today after the Canadian tested positive for Covid, while his compatriot and Israel-Premier Tech team-mate Guillaume Boivin was also unable to line-up after he was feeling unwell. Basque rider Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), meanwhile, decided against completing his Tour to instead head home to compete in his hometown on Monday.

03:49 PM

115km to go

A three-man breakaway of leads the stage after Wout van Aert attacked from the flag, before he was joined by Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar. . . but they are just playing around for the TV cameras.

03:46 PM

And they’re off!

Having tapped their way gently through the neutralised zone, the 21st and final stage of the men’s Tour de France is under way. . .  and Wout van Aert attacks! Race leader Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) has been riding alongside Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), who leads the young rider classification, with the rivals shooting the breeze.

AP - APAP - AP

AP – AP

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), dressed is the green jersey as leader in the points classification, was also at the front of the slow-moving bunch chatting to Simon Geschke (Cofidis), the German who is wearing the polka dot jersey on behalf of Vingegaard who actually leads the mountains classification. Geschke is looking a little sheepish and probably doesn’t really want to be in the spotlight, he worked really hard to win the polka dot jersey but lost it after failing to get into the breakaway on Thursday and was, by all accounts, distraught having lost the maillot à pois.

Simon Geschke - APSimon Geschke - AP

Simon Geschke – AP

02:36 PM

Wiebes wins opening stage at Tour de France Femmes!

Lorena Wiebes, the 23-year-old Dutchwoman who rides for German squad DSM, has won the opening stage at the Tour de France Femmes, the relaunched women’s edition of the Tour de France.

Lorena Wiebes punches the air in celebration after beating Marianne Vos to the line on the Champs-Élysées - APLorena Wiebes punches the air in celebration after beating Marianne Vos to the line on the Champs-Élysées - AP

Lorena Wiebes punches the air in celebration after beating Marianne Vos to the line on the Champs-Élysées – AP

Wiebes, the in-form sprinter who won four stages at the recent Baloise Ladies Tour, a trio at last month’s Women’s Tour and all three at the RideLondon Classique back in May, later described her win on the most famous boulevard in cycling as ‘amazing’.

After swinging off the Place de la Concorde and onto the Champs-Élysées, Marianne Vos and her Jumbo-Visma team-mates appeared perfectly positioned with young British rider Anna Henderson positioned ahead of one of the best riders of all time. With Movistar’s Emma Norsgaard and Wiebes looming, Vos peeled off the wheel of Henderson before opening up her sprint from some distance out. Wiebes kept her nerve, however, and followed her own line before beating Vos on the slight uphill drag relatively comfortably. Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) held on to take third.

The women's peloton heads towards the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs-Élysées - GETTY IMAGESThe women's peloton heads towards the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs-Élysées - GETTY IMAGES

The women’s peloton heads towards the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs-Élysées – GETTY IMAGES

“It’s incredible, the girls worked tirelessly for me. It was a very long sprint but I was expecting it as I was getting ready for Marianne Vos to go early,” said Wiebe. “I’m so happy. We’ve had a great season so far. I managed to accelerate one last time when Marianne was next to me.”

Alana Castrique, the 23-year-old Belgian who rides for Cofidis, was unable to complete the 81.7-kilometre opening stage of the eight-day race after she was taken away in an ambulance following a heavy crash.

Wiebes will take a 4sec lead over Vos into Monday’s second stage, the 136.4km run from Meaux to Provins, with Kopecky in third, six seconds off the pace. The race concludes next Sunday atop La Planche des Belles Filles.

02:10 PM

Hello

And welcome to our live rolling blog from stage 21 of the 109th Tour de France, the 115.6-kilometre run from Paris La Défense to the Champs-Élysées.

Three weeks and two days after setting off from Copenhagen, the weary 138-man peloton will shortly be rolling out for one last time before later on this evening, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) will be crowned Tour de France champion and winner of the mountains classification, while the Dane’s team-mate Wout van Aert will secure the green jersey as winner of the points classification. Defending champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) will be taking home his third successive white jersey as winner of the youth classification. All of the above, of course, is based on the assumption that all three riders complete the stage within the time limit, which barring some sort of disaster not seen before, befalls one of them.

Tour dde France 2022, stage 21 profileTour dde France 2022, stage 21 profile

Tour dde France 2022, stage 21 profile

The stage itself is a relatively benign looking affair, one that is often described as a processional day in the saddle. For casual observers it may look like just that, but don’t ever say that to a sprinter. With very few stages ending in what you would describe as a traditional sprint this year, today represents, perhaps more than ever before, a huge opportunity for the fast men. Having hauled themselves over the Alps and Pyrenees, the likes of Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco), Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Fabio Jakobsen (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) and Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) will be desperate to challenge for the win, while Van Aert, who won on the Champs-Élysées a year ago, will also be one to watch out for. Interestingly, the finish line is in the same position as last year when race organisers moved it 300 metres up the road meaning it may suit somebody like Van Aert, Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) – the classics men able to hold a long sprint over rougher terrain. In fact, I would not be surprised if Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) had a crack today, though the south Londoner may be fatigued from two back-to-back big shifts in the saddle.

Prior to today’s stage, the women’s peloton got its eight-day Tour de France under way, racing over a 81.6km course from the Eiffel Tower to the Champs-Élysées. Unfortunately we are not live blogging the inaugural edition of Tour de France Femmes, but will be carrying daily race reports on the website so keep your eyes peeled.

Follow Telegraph Sport’s live coverage from 3.45pm (BST).