Froome Wins Tour de France; Greipel Wins on Champs Elysses
Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) has won the final stage of the 2015 Tour de France. The Gorilla from Rostock, who has dominated the bunch sprints in this year’s Tour de France, took his fourth stage win by outsprinting the field on the Champs Elysees to win Stage 21, a flat, 109.5-km run from Sevres to Paris in 2:49:41. Bryan Coquard (Europcar) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) finished second and third, respectively. Chris Froome (Team Sky Pro Cycling) arrived at the back of the field and claimed his second Tour victory.
Sky showed up at the start with jerseys with yellow bands to celebrate Froome’s victory. Rain greeted the riders on the Champs Elysses, but the race judges decided that the riders would receive their final times at the first crossing of the finish line, although they would have to ride all 10 laps of the circuit. With 51 km left, Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) attacked, but the French veteran’s lead maxed out at 0:17. He was reeled in after 17 km.
Nelson Olivera (Lampre-Merida), Kenny Van Bilsen (Cofidis), and Florian Vachon (Bretagne-Seche Environnement) sallied off of the front. With six laps to go, the trio led the field by 0:20, while Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) and Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge) attempted to bridge up to the move. One lap later, the leaders had a 0:25 advantage. Lotto-Soudal went to the front for Greipel, while at the rear, Froome had a mechanical and his teammates dropped back to assist him.
With three laps remaining, the break led the bunch by 0:31. Etixx-Quick Step, Katusha, Cofidis, and Europcar joined Lotto-Soudal at the front. One lap later, the peloton trailed the escapees by 0:17.
Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) bridged up to the leaders. Van Bilsen attacked his companions. Behind, Froome needed a bike change because of a plastic bag that was stuck in his rear wheel. Three teammates paced him back to the field. Tinkoff-Saxo Bank led the field, and with five km left, the bunch reeled in the break.
Giant-Alpecin attempted to take command. A crash took down half a dozen riders. Katusha went to the front and attempted to launch Kristoff, but Greipel burst past the Norwegian for the win, with Coquard finishing just behind him.
Victory on the Champs Elysses was a dream come true for Greipel. “This is really a dream that comes true to win here on the Champs-Elysees,” he said. “The circumstances weren’t that good due to the rain, I’m not very keen on that. Also because of my crash in the previous weekend I was a bit scary, I still have some pain in my knee. The last few days were very tough for me, I had to give all I got to be at the start today. But the fourth victory is a fact and it’s incredible to add this one to my record.”
“My teammates did again an excellent job today. Thomas De Gendt, Tim Wellens, Tony Gallopin, and Lars Bak really did their best to control the gap with the break. Adam Hansen, Marcel Sieberg, and Jens Debusschere did the other preparations for the sprint. Even Greg Henderson came especially from Spain to encourage us. It was an emotional moment to experience this victory with them. There were only five sprint opportunities in this Tour, the fact that we win four of them is just indescribable.”
On the winner’s podium, Froome brimmed with gratitude. The 30-year-old Briton thanked his teammates and staff for their part in his victory. "Of course I want to start off by thanking my team-mates," he said. "Without you guys I would not be standing up here. Richie [Porte], Wout [Poels], Ian [Stannard], G [Geraint Thomas], Pete [Peter Kennaugh], Luke [Rowe], Nico [Nicolas Roche], and Leo [Leopold Konig]. My upmost respect and gratitude. This is your yellow jersey as much as it is mine.
"Thank you to all the support staff of Team Sky. Your endless dedication and commitment is what has got us through the tough moments of this year's Tour de France. And a special mention to my coach Tim Kerrison and Team Manager Dave Brailsford. Thank you to my wife Michelle - your love and support are my strength and motivation. I can't wait for this next chapter of our lives to begin together with a baby boy.
"The maillot jaune is special, very special. I understand its history, good and bad. I will always respect it. Never dishonour it, and I will always be proud to have won it. Thank you very much."
Roche took his second Tour de France in the last three years by 1:12 over Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and 5:25 over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). In other competitions, Froome took the King of the Mountains competition, while Quintana will take the white jersey for the best young rider home to Colombia. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) won the points classification, and Movistar took the team competition.
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