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95th Tour de France - Stage 21 Live
By Staff
Date: 7/27/2008
95th Tour de France - Stage 21 Live

95th Tour de France - Stage 21
The Grand Parade to Paris. The Champagne is flowing and the traditional tomfoolery will be present as the race progress towards the French capital and the finish on the Champs Elysees.

Stage 21 Etampes - Paris Champs Elysees  143km
Welcome to the 21st and final stage of the Tour de France from Etampes to Paris Champs-Elysees over 143 km. Carlos Sastre the winner of the 2008 Tour de France bar accidents. This stage is a traditional parade to Paris with the annual photo shoots of the jersey winners shaking hands, drinking champagne and doing crazy stuff.

Both Auge and stage winner Dumoulin of Cofidis traded helmets with a photographer and his motard of L'Equipe. It looked crazy two little French guys with big motorcycle helmets on their head. We will have more traditional tomfoolery throughout the stage as the race progress towards the French capital. With two last opportunities for mountain and sprint points on the way to Paris.

There are two forth category climbs within five kilometres of each other early on, though these may not even be contested as Bernard Kohl of Gerolsteiner is the undisputed leader in the climbers competition with the jersey locked up on the final climbing stages. After that, there are thirty more kilometres under the reach enters the centre of Paris, and soon after begins the nine laps of the finishing circuit.

At the moment we have 95 km left as they are on the penultimate cat 4. climb Remy les Chevreuse of this years Tour de France. Cancellara dumped the water out of his bidon to refill it with champagne  Mountain King Bernhard Kohl takes the points on that first climb. It was a prestigious sprint against two sprinters Eisel and Steegmans. Steegmans was about to get it but Kohl made a late jump after he got a push on his back from Eisel to make some more speed.

Carlos Sastre, who has been congratulated by almost the whole bunch, has a busy schedule after the Tour de France. After the traditional party this evening in Paris he will travel tomorrow morning to Belgium. In Belgium he will visit his fan club first and will then go to a local hospital to visit kids with cancer. Sastre is very committed to kids and he and his fan club are proud to do charity work with kids.

In the evening he will also ride the post tour criterium of Aalst. On Tuesday he will travel to the Netherlands for the post-tour criterium of Stiphout before traveling home to Spain. In Spain it's likely that he will be honored too. Then he has Thursday and Friday for a bit of rest before leaving for  China/Beijing for the Olympic Games. Sastre is selected for the Spanish team. The website of Carlos Sastre his fan club in Belgium is:

Back to the race still 92 km to go - If we take an overview of the teams in the Tour we can conclude that 10 teams didn't win a stage in this years Tour de France namely Euskaltel, Barloworld, Liquigas, Lampre, Quick Step, Agritubel, Bouygues Telecom, Milram, La Francaise des Jeux and Garmin Chipotle. For them they have one opportunity left to win a stage and that's today. But nevertheless Agritubel had one day the yellow jersey with Roman Feillu and that for a small team as Agritubel is quite an accomplishment.

Euskaltel attacked a lot but they always seemed to fall short. The best result was a second place for Egoi Martinez to Prato Nevoso and a 2nd place for Samuel Sanchez on Alpe D'Huez. Sanchez also finishes in seventh in the Tour de France. Barloworld had a less than good Tour de France, that seemed to go from one disaster to the next. First there team leader Soler crashing injuring his wrist. Soler came to the tour recovering from a fractured wrist and tried to battle on in spite of injuries to both wrists; in the end he had to abandon the race. Next was positive doping test for Duenas who was pulled out of the race, followed by abandons of other riders due to crashes. Sprinter Hunter, lacking support battled for a stage win but failed to collect much but a few top tens.

Liquigas sadly started with a positive test for Beltran who never started the race. The team got a lot of TV time at the front; leading the chase. A positive for the team were the days in the maillot blanc for Vincenzo Nibali; 13th place overall of Kreuziger who warred with Andy Schleck to stage 20 for the best young rider. All and all, Liquigas showed they have two talented young guns to watch in the future.

Lampre and Quick Step had high expectations for the Tour with Cunego and Devolder for the GC. But both have left the Tour. Cunego due to a crash and Devolder disillusioned after his off day on Hautacam. Quick Step also missed Tom Boonen as their sprinter Gert Steegmans try as he did, hasn't collected a victory for the sprinters team in blue and white.

Bouygues Telecom and La Francaise des Jeux made their mark by attacking almost daily during le Tour. La FDJ was three times second with Sebastien Chavanel, Jeremy Roy and Sandy Casar. Gilbert came close to a stage win. Bouygues Telecom had the polka dot jersey for a while with Thomas Voeckler but they never came close to a stage win try as they did. Both teams can leave the tour happy to have flown the name of their sponsors for hours on TV while in the breaks.

1557 CEST - 81 km to go, The Gerolsteiner team leads the peloton at a leisurely pace at the moment through a series of roundabouts. Last but not least of the teams without a stage win are Milram and Garmin/Chipotle. Milram had evergreen Erik  Zabel as team leader; Erik is second in the points ranking and consistently finished in the top10 in the sprint stages. Milram also showed themselves well in the breaks with Terpstra, Velo and Velits.

Garmin/Chipotle is fifth in the teams classification for the 2008 Tour de France with the surprising performance by Christian Vandevelde. Vandevelde rode consistently in the race and stayed at the top ranks of the G.C. throughout that had many fans hoping for a podium appearance for the American rider. Will Frischkorn and Danny Pate did well with a 2nd and 3rd place in a stage in their first Tour de France participation. Jonathan Vaughters and the team can be proud of their first appearance in tour.

The teams who logged greater success this year are Caisse D'Epargne with stage wins by Valverde and Luis Leon Sanchez. Valverde who finishes the Tour in 9th will add a second stage as well, if Riccardo Ricco's b-sample tests positive. The loss of Pereiro due to his crash on a descent didn't help the lads in the slick red and black jerseys.

Newly named  Team Columbia Sportswear, (formerly Team High Road) had a very successful tour. Marcus Burghardt won the stage to Saint-Etienne while top sprinter Mark Cavendish won no less than four stages. They even had the yellow, green jersey and white jersey for a few early stages this year. Team manager Bob Stapleton must be very proud of his boys. Kim Kirchen had a stint in yellow and will finish in 8th place today.

Credit Agricole won two stages one with Thor Hushovd and one with Simon Gerrans. Hushovd is also third in the points ranking but was hampered in his effort in the final weeks due to illness. The team is still looking for a new sponsor I hope the two stage wins were enough to accomplish that.

77 km to go, French teams - Ag2r and Cofidis did well and can be very satisfied. Ag2r won the stage to Jausiers with Cyril Dessel and Vladimir Efimkin who finished second in the stage to Bagneres-de-Bigorre. Efimkin will claim the stage victory if and when Ricco is removed from the winners list.

Cofidis was the most attractive team in this years Tour de France. They had the most attacking kilometers with serial escapees: Dumoulin, Auge, Chavanel and Brard and also won two stages with Dumoulin and Chavanel. If there were a trophy for most aggressive team or TV exposure the award would certainly go to the team in red & yellow. Well done!

The German Gerolsteiner team had an excellent tour; but like Credit Agricole is currently in search for a new main sponsor. Gerolsteiner used the Tour de France to advertise themselves in a positive way. Stefan Schumacher won both time-trials and wore the maillot jaune for three days. Bernhard Kohl finishes a surprising third in the Tour de France and is winner of the Polka dot jersey. Sebastian Lang also had the mountains jersey for a stage before passing it to teammate Kohl. Luckily all of this should aid the team in finding a new sponsor.

Rabobank came to the Tour with one goal, to win the Tour de France with Denis Menchov. Menchov will finish today in fourth. Menchov missed a split on the windy stage, not watching as echelons formed he lost 38 seconds. He also lost unnecessary seconds on Jausiers were lost time during bad descent. Rabobank has some positive news with a stage win and the green jersey for Oscar Freire. Freire is the first Spaniard to win the green jersey in the Tour.

The story of Saunier Duval we all know. Saunier Duval won three stages. Two with Riccardo Ricco (Super-Besse and Bagneres-de-Bigorre) and one with Leonardo Piepoli (Hautacam). Ricco even had the white jersey and the polka dot jersey at the moment his positive test was announced and had to leave the Tour de France. Within a day Saunier Duval fired both riders and decided to withdraw the team from the Tour and competition. Sponsor Saunier Duval announced shortly after that they were withdrawing financial support and retiring immediately from cycling sponsorship. The good news for the team of Mauro Gianetti was that bike supplier SCOTT expressed its support of Gianetti by becoming the main sponsor for the rest of the season. A few days later a new co-sponsor, American Beef was announced. The team goes on as SCOTT - American Beef.

Last but not least we have CSC Saxo Bank. The worlds number one team won two stages with Carlos Sastre to Alpe D'Huez and Kurt-Asle Arvesen to Foix. Fränk Schleck reigned briefly in the maillot jaune before team mate Carlos Sastre took the lead of the race at the summit of Alpe D'Huez. Sastre was able to defend it in the ITT and is the deserved winner of the 2008 Tour de France (without any accidents in Paris). Tactically the race was controlled by the team who worked to test Cadel Evans and Silence/Lotto as they approached the final week in the alpes.

We have to mention young Andy Schleck and the other guys who did great work for the team. Andy Schleck was in many people's opinions the best rider this year. Andy might have finished in the top 5 if not for a bad day to Hautacam. But Schleck is a great prospect who could win the Tour in the future. Cancellara, Voigt, Gustov, Sörensen and O'Grady have done a great job to determine the tactics and controlling the peloton through the final week.

74 km to go, and still easy going as the parade continues. A few comments aboutSilence-Lotto: Lotto came to the Tour with one goal to win the race with Cadel Evans. Evans finishes today in second as Sastre proved the stronger over three weeks. The team didn't win a stage, but Robbie McEwen finished second once. McEwen still has one chance left to win a stage and that's today in Paris; and you bet he will be gunning for it. Evans also had the yellow jersey for a few days before Fränk Schleck took it after the climb to Prato Nevoso.

In all fairness to Cadel he's fought the good fight with a weaker team, battered and bruised in almost a single handed battle with one of the strongest tour teams in tour history composed of national champions and hard men. He might have given up the jersey after two days, but he fought on suffering with his injuries. Cadel can be proud of his tour and to stand on the podium tomorrow. I think Australia and the fans in Oz fans can be proud of him and the job he's done too.

70 km to go. In about 20 kilometers the peloton will enter the centre of Paris for the final act on the Champs Elysees. They have 8 laps of 6.5 kilometers with 2 intermediate sprints. With the Tour de France win by Sastre, and Oscar Freire the top sprinter (the first Maillot Vert for Spain) Spain has had a very successful summer in sports: Tennis player Rafael Nadal won Roland Garros and Wimbledon, the Spanish football team are the new European Champions. It's likely that Spain will also win all three Grand Tours: Contador won the Giro, Sastre wins the Tour and it's likely that Contador or another Spaniard wins the Vuelta too. But, who will beat Contador in the Vuelta?

CSC now takes the control of the peloton increasing the pace a bit. Bichot led over the category 4 Cote de Chateaufort followed by Lang, and Marzano. The riders are in Paris riding alongside the Seine.

Gerald Ciolek, Robbie McEwen, Gert Steegmans, Thor Hushovd and Oscar Freire will be the riders to watch at the finish in Paris. But maybe a guy like Cancellara can do what Vinokourov did a few years ago, jumping away just before the final turn and keeping the sprinters at bay. Historically, the odds are in favor of a mass sprint finish.

First attacks go off the front of the peloton as they turn on to the champs.

Other cycling news: Paolo Bettini has won the second stage in the Tour de la Region Wallonne ahead of Greg van Avermaet. Van avermaet is also the new leader. This race will end on Wednesday. CSC rider Karsten Kroon has won the final stage in the Sachsen Tour. Columbia rider Bert Grabsch is the final winner.

1643 CEST - 53 km to go,  the peloton has arrived on the Champs Elysees, one km to the finish line banner. The weather is good with about 29 degrees Celsius, so the cobblestones are dry and we couldn't have a finer day for the finish of the tour.

52 km to go as they cross the finish line now. If your in Paris drop by the Hard Rock Cafe this evening to celebrate with Silence/Lotto. Vive le Tour !

Riders on the Champs Elysees  Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

First attack of the day. Guess who attacks? Of course - Cofidis with Stephane Auge. French Champion Nicolas Vogondy is trying to bridge across. Two leaders now with Vogondy and Auge. Two French guys in front. The two guys are chased down now by Björn Schröder (Milram) and the rest of the bunch... Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) and Jurgen van de Walle (Quick Step) are the next to attack - they too are brought back.

Our Live Coverage continues: Stage 21 Part 2

Intermediate Sprints
Champs-Elysees, 99km
Champs-Elysses, 118.5km

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