The Tour de France concludes on Sunday and we reckon green jersey winner Jasper Philipsen looks set to win the famous dash on the Champs-Elysees for the second straight year…
As always, the final day starts in the Parisian suburbs and the 115.1km route meanders through the outskirts before finding its way on to the French capital’s most famous boulevard for eight frantic laps along the cobbles.
Philipsen has taken four wins in this year’s Tour to dominate the points classification but has been left frustrated in recent days, as the breakaway has got the edge on the peloton.
However, this stage has become a staple of the sprinting calendar, with Alexander Vinokourov the last rider to win from a late attack in 2005.
With Paris hosting next year’s Olympics, Stage 21 starts at the Olympic Velodrome in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and there is extra significance to the finish on the Champs, with it switching to Nice next year due to Paris hosting the Olympics.
Akin to the final day at Augusta, the sweeping shots of the Parisian skyline bathed in the early evening sunshine are as good an advert as any tourist board could construct.
However, while some soon-to-be-retired riders may get a chance to go ahead and ride alone to receive warm applause from the Tour’s adoring public after the peloton gets into Paris, it will be all business in the final few laps and Philipsen could triumph for the second straight year.
Jasper Philipsen @ 4/7
Philipsen has attracted the ire of fans in recent days for his petulant behaviour in response to certain stages not ending in sprints but that should not be the case on Sunday.
Sure, some riders will look to try their luck in a bid to emulate Vinokourov but are likely to be reeled in as the group aims to finish as fast as possible in order to let the celebrations begin.
With sprint rivals such as Mark Cavendish, Fabio Jakobsen and Wout van Aert among those who have not made it to Paris, the way looks clear for the 25-year-old Philipsen to strike.
Expect to see his Alpecin-Deceuninck team find themselves on the front towards the end of the race, with Mathieu van der Poel likely to deliver him to the line.
A fifth win of the race would see him match Marcel Kittel’s tally from 2017 and would mark a fitting end to a fine race for the fastest man in the peloton.
Mads Pedersen @ 6/1
The only man to outsprint Philipsen in the 2023 Tour has been Mads Pedersen, who got the better of him on stage eight into Limoges.
Lidl Trek’s Pedersen was fifth behind the Belgian on stages 18 and 19 as the pair chased home the breakaway and sits second in the green jersey race.
The Danish former world champion has again proved his versatility at the Tour, getting into the breakaway in the mountains and finishing ninth in Tuesday’s time-trial.
A real bull of a man, Pedersen’s win in Limoges came on a slight uphill and he will see that as an advantage as he looks to upset the odds in Pari