The finish was around 9.40pm in the city of lights and the stars came out to shine: the four at the top of the sprinters classification had a drag race to the line to determine the winner of the 21st stage and it was Marcel Kittel who began the Tour as he started it – with a victory. The German won in Bastia, St-Malo and Tours (stages one, 10 and 12) and he topped off a stunning second appearance by holding off a late challenge from the four-time winner in Paris, Mark Cavendish. Behind the battle of the sprinters, the celebrations had begun. Chris Froome would roll over the finish line arm-in-arm with team-mate David Lopez and with Richie Porte by his side. The grin on his face spelled out the relief and satisfaction of becoming the second British champion of the Tour and the first rider born in Africa to take home the yellow jersey. He ended his emphatic campaign with an advantage of 4’20» over the best young rider – and King of the Mountains – Nairo Quintana. «I get a lot of inspiration from reading messages from fans who say that just watching the Tour de France makes them want to get out on their bikes or start cycling,» said the champion of the 2013 Tour. «That’s what this is about. It’s one of the main reasons we’re here, why Sky is sponsoring us – to get that kind of response and support from the public back home is a really cool feeling.»
The progress report
The official start of the final stage of the 100th Tour de France was at 6.26pm with an equal record number of riders at the sign on for the final stage, 170 (matching the 2010 race when this was the biggest finishing field ever). The stage had two category-four climbs in the opening hour: the cote de Saint-Remy-les-Chevreause (at 29.5km) and cote de Chateaufort (at 33.5km). The peloton idled along at an average speed of 35.6km/h for the first hour. Before the race officially began, the bunch rode around the gardens of the palace of Versailles showcasing yet another popular tourist attraction of the host nation.
Steegmans (OPQ) and Rojas (MOV) were the riders who claimed the final climbing points of the 2013 Tour. There was a small crash involving Lagutin (VCD) at the 25km mark but he remounted his bike quickly and rejoined the peloton.
Sky leads to the streets of Paris
There were the traditional festivities at the start of the stage with champagne sipping and photo taking amongst the riders. The Sky team led the peloton to the site of the finish for the first of 10 laps of the Champs-Elysées with Froome giving his friend Richie Porte the honour of leading the bunch for the first lap. The Sky team did the whole first lap at the front of the bunch and then, on the second passage of the Haute des Champs, Boom (BEL) became the first to gain any ground on the peloton.
With 53km to go, the winner of the four most recent stages in Paris – Cavendish (OPQ) – punctured his front tyre; it took him just three kilometres to rejoin the peloton. At 48km to go, Meyer (OGE) instigated an escape. He was joined in the lead by Millar (GRS), Flecha (VCD) and El Fares (SOJ). Millar and Flecha kept the escape alive and led by 20” at the intermediate sprint (87km) where the Spaniard took first place for the intermediate sprint.
Westra (VCD) was forced to abandon the Tour de France with 38km to go.
Omega begin their lead-out…
With 36km to go, two riders from the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team went to the front of the peloton. Millar and Flecha were 10” ahead. Millar remained at the front of the stage while Flecha, who was briefly joined by Muravyev (AST) was caught 30km from the finish. With 25km to go, Millar had a lead of 30”; single-handedly, he held off the peloton until 18km to go. With 21km to go, Roy (FDJ) attacked the peloton, he caught and passed the stage leader but then duly retreated to the peloton. This prompted another move: Quinziato (BMC), Valverde (MOV) and Tankink (BEL) were in the lead at 17km to go. They had an advantage of 12”. Omega Pharma-Quickstep got seven men to the front of the peloton with 10km to go and Valverde’s trio was 10” ahead. The escape was over with 6.5km to go.
100th Tour ends as it began: Kittel 1st in the stage
The Omega Pharma-Quickstep team was the dominant force at the front of the peloton in the closing kilometres of the 100th Tour but Argos-Shimano, Lotto-Belisol and Cannondale also had a strong presence. Kwiatkowski led Trentin and Steegmans to the ‘Flamme Rouge’ but it was Argos-Shimano that opened up the sprint as they traversed the Place de la Concorde. Kittel started his sprint with about 300m to go and held off a strong challenge from both Cavendish and Greipel. The German is the only rider to win four stages of the 2013 Tour de France. The winner on day one is the winner on the final Sunday.
Froome drops 53” of his lead but wins the yellow jersey!
In the final rush to the line, Froome dropped well behind as the sprinters battled it out for stage honours. The Sky leader would cross the line arm-in-arm with Lopez (SKY) in 114th place, 53” behind Kittel. Despite his loss of time to Quintana who finished in the front group (48th, 10” behind Kittel), Froome became the winner of the Tour de France with an advantage of 4’20”.
Nairo Quintana (MOV) won both the youth and climbing classifications in his debut in the race.
And Peter Sagan, fourth in the final stage won his second successive green jersey.
Chris Froome is the champion of the 100th Tour de France.