Rambouillet — Paris Champs-Elysees (74.6 miles/120 km)
Sunday 22 July
The parade to the Champs-Élysées, this year from Rambouillet, completes the Tour de France in style. Having hosted 37 finishes in the Tour, the circuit from the Arc de Triomphe to the Jardin des Tuileries, before the Place de la Concorde, is the most visible route in all of cycling.
The 120km rolling stage mostly consists of social pedaling and posing for the camera, but that doesn’t undervalue the finish, which is arguably the most prestigious in the sport for sprinters. Organizers expect 1.5 billion spectators to watch the final stage, so the winner of the final kick has a uniquely glorious welcome to Paris.
Belgian Walter Godefroot was the first rider to win the Paris stage, in 1975. The first edition consisted of 25 laps on the 6km circuit. From there, organizers moved the start outside of the city, but have maintained the finish beneath the Arc, with the same laps through the city, a tradition that has persisted since Godefroot’s victory.
The sight of Mark Cavendish passing through the finish line with his arms raised above his head has become commonplace. Should the world champion finish the Tour in the same style this year, he will have claimed four consecutive wins on the Champs-Élysées. After a series of crashes kept him from meeting his goals in the Giro, Cavendish will be looking for a boost headed into the Olympic road race, just a week away.
Team Sky may well stand in Paris in both green and yellow jerseys, which is ultimately Cavendish’s goal. “It’s a big draw for me to be going for green and yellow,” he said. “To be part of a British team, to do something that’s only been done a few times before in history, that has a massive appeal for me. I wanted to come to this team because it’s part of something bigger.”