After 3 weeks of exciting cycle racing, the end of the Tour de France is in sight.
The 2018 Tour de France has entered its third week and the riders face a gruelling few days in the Pyrenees before they head to Paris for the traditional conclusion of the race this Sunday. By the time they reach Paris, the holder of the Yellow Jersey – the winner of the overall General Classification of the race – will have been decided. The stage in Paris is more of a celebration for the winning rider and his team. It also gives the sprinters in the race one last chance of glory, and to win the stage on the Champs-Élysées really is a coveted prize for any sprinter.
The stage will begin in the Parisian suburb of Houilles at 1615 and the riders will make their way through outer Paris, to enter the city at Porte Maillot at about 1800. The route follows the River Seine until they join the finishing circuit on the Rue de Rivoli. The riders will pass the Jardins des Tuileries, cross the Place de la Concorde and head up the Champs-Élysées. They cycle round the Arc de Triomphe before heading back down the Champs-Élysées again. After 9 circuits the sprinters will be revving up for the final sprint, and all the glory which comes with winning the final stage in Paris.
Spectators from all nationalities will descend on Paris to watch the final stage of the Tour de France. The Norwegians are particularly avid followers and their flags will be draped all over the barriers in a spot known as “Norwegian Corner”. The Dutch are also keen cycling fans and will no doubt be much in evidence in Paris on Sunday. There will certainly be a large number of British spectators as two of the favourites for the general classification (GC) who are in the lead at the time of writing this blog are Geraint Thomas of Wales and England’s Chris Froome.
I have been fortunate enough to be present at the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris twice. On both occasions we had seen earlier stages of the Tour in other parts of France and drove into Paris to stay a night and watch the conclusion of the race. I remember that the atmosphere in the city was electric, with so many cycling fans from different nations coming together to enjoy themselves. We managed to find a good position against a barrier on the Rue de Rivoli from where we had a good view of the race. It’s worth mentioning though – they do cycle past very quickly indeed so if you blink at the wrong moment you’ll have missed the action!
The final stage of the Tour de France gives Paris a chance to show off it’s beautiful boulevards and grand buildings to the world. They’ve enjoyed sunny weather for most of the Tour and I hope this is the case on Sunday so that the city can be seen at its beautiful best.