Kittel Wins Final Stage of Tour de France; Froome Claims Overall
The 2013 Tour de France is history. It ended as it began a seeming eon ago on Corsica, with Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) dusting the field. The German took a bunch sprint to win Stage 21, a flat, 133.5-km run from Versailles to Paris, in 3:06:14.
Compatriot Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) finished second, and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), the winner of the last four final stages on the Champs Elysses, settled for third. Moments after the sprinters settled matters, Chris Froome (Sky), the 2013 Tour champion, crossed the finish line with his teammates.
As always, the early part of the Tour’s final stage was lighthearted. Before the start, the riders were given leave to wander the grounds of the palace of Versailles, the home of Kings Louis XIV, XV, and XVI. When the racing started, a long neutralized section included a circuit of the palace. The various competition winners appeared at the front of the peloton, with points competition winner Peter Sagan’s (Cannondale) goatee dyed green to resemble his jersey and third-place finisher Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) lighting the Purito cigar that spawned his nickname.
When the flag was dropped, Omega Pharma-Quick Step went to the front, but the tempo did not increase. Ag2r-La Mondiale was photographed, as Romain Bardet was the highest placed Frenchman (15 th) and Christophe Riblon was the only French stage winner (Stage 18 on Alpe d’Huez); Riblon also won the Tour’s Supercombativity Award.
Eventually, Sky took over at the front, but the pace remained relatively slow. When the peloton reached Paris, Froome allowed teammate Richie Porte to cross the finish line for the first of 10 circuits of the Arc de Triomphe. The British squad led the peloton until the end of the first circuit.
At the beginning of the second circuit, attacks began. Lars Boom (Belkin) was the first attacker to get clear. The Dutchman did not stay clear, and he was reeled in before the end of the circuit. A group containing Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) sallied off of the front, but the bunch reeled it in before it got far. Cavendish punctured, and most of his teammates dropped back to tow him back to the peloton.
With 50 km left, David Millar (Garmin-Sharp), Julien El Fares (Sojasun), Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge), and Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) sallied off of the front. The quartet led the field by 0:15 with seven laps left. Millar and Flecha dropped their companions and stretched their advantage to 0:35 with six laps remaining.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Argos-Shimano went to the front and gradually cut the lead. Millar and Flecha were not collaborating well, so the Scot dropped the Spaniard with about 30 km to go. At this point, Millar’s lead was down to 0:10.
After dropping Flecha, Millar ran his lead up to 0:29. The peloton, however, was in no hurry. With about 20 km remaining and the gap between Millar and the bunch at about 0:25, Jeremy Roy (Francaise des Jeux) jumped out of the peloton and bridged up to the Garmin-Sharp man. Roy dropped Millar and was dropped in turn by Manuel Quinziato (BMC), Bram Tankink (Belkin), and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
Quinziato, Tankink, and Valverde led the field by 0:20 with 12 km to go and 0:15 with 10 km left. Cannondale had joined Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Argos-Shimano at