Tour de France 2014 Stage 21
Évry to Paris (Champs-Élysées) 137.5km
Every three-week long bike race should finish with a metaphor as profound as finishing on the Elysian Fields; that's part of the beauty of Tour de France. The final stage started in the Parisian suburb of Évry. It took 84km to arrive at the finishing circuit, then nine laps of a seven-kilometer course, and a finish with 137.5km in their legs on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
Being the final day of the race, the ride from Évry to the circuit is done at a parade pace, which for the Tour, is about 32kph. It gives the riders time to savor their accomplishments and enjoy a nice ride before starting to race.
Cannondale Pro Cycling came with one major objective. The first priority was helping Peter Sagan win his third consecutive Green Jersey as the winner of the Points competition.
The Green Jersey is considered the second-most coveted prize at the Tour. In French, it's
Classement Général Individuel Par Points. The jersey, and the competition, was created to give sprinters and flatlanders a reason to come to the race, and it gave the fans an extra incentive to watch, knowing that a portion of the racers would be targeting daily sprint finishes rather than just working for the overall at the end of three weeks.
Sometimes, the competition is known as the "regularity" prize. There is something to this idea. With an intermediate sprint out on every road stage, and a sprint at every finish line, the people competing for green do indeed have to be at the front on a regular basis. Cannondale and Sagan dominated the intermediate sprints most of the race, and were indeed always at the front at the finish line, unless the finish was a mountaintop. Sagan had nine top-five finishes, including four second place finishes. He was a most regular top finisher. His seven-consecutive top-five finishes in the opening seven stages was a feat that hasn't been equaled since 1930.
Sagan was proud of his accomplishment. "It was a really intense Tour de France. Myself and the team had one goal at the start: the green jersey. And we hit the target. Even if the race was full of crashes, bad luck and no wins. Honestly, I'm really satisfied. I know I did my best every time I had the chance to win, I have no regrets. Cycling races are not math calculations. I have to accept the verdict. Sometimes, everything went well; sometimes you can't throw off the bad luck. Anyway, the results I achieved are good and showed that I was always among the main competitors. It's really difficult to compare the performance through the years. Many things changed, first of all the control that my contenders have in the finale. For sure, I finished this Tour with something new in my bag of experience."
"Winning three Tour de France green jerseys in a row makes me really proud. I built up an impressive tally of points and I showed I'm a solid rider. Of course, this is not just a personal result, but the effort of the entire team. I want to thank each of my teammates and staff because they supported me and gave confidence, not only when things went right, but also when things went wrong."
Cannondale also achieved a second impressive goal, one they weren't expecting at the Grand Depart in England. That of the Classement Général De La Combativité, or the most aggressive rider prize. The Red Number, or Dossard Rouge, was awarded to the team's Alessandro De Marchi, who seemed to animate every mountain stage by getting into a long breakaway. He was excited by the recognition. "The award as most aggressive rider of the whole Tour de France is a great satisfaction. I think it reflects in full my attitude in race. Honestly, I hoped to receive this award, but when I was told, it was a big surprise. Every time I was in the breakaway I always searched the stage win, and of course this would be the highest satisfaction of my career. But looking back the stages and how hard they were, I feel really lucky and happy to be on the podium in Paris to receive an award for my wish to win. It means I can raise the level of my ambitions for the future. I’m realistic: I know which role I can have in a top team, but it's a big vote of confidence in my capabilities. I want to dedicate this award to the whole team – I’m really happy I have a present for my mates and staff, another satisfaction after Peter’s green jersey."
Directeur Sportif Stefano Zanatta was pleased with his charges. "I'm really satisfied for the attitude of the riders during the entire race. Everyone played his role at the best of his ability and we tried to exploit all the chances we had. We worked as a cohesive group and not just a team. The result we achieved with Peter was really good. I think it's important to highlight how hard it was for him to win the green jersey against such strong competitors. Three consecutive green jerseys is an amazing result. We didn’t win a stage, but it’s not a drama. De Marchi’s award was unexpected, but he has a lot of qualities as a racer and he deserved the award. For us, it means we helped another rider to improve and to exploit all his capabilities.”
The parade eventually had to end and the race begin. When the race crossed the finish line for the first time, IAM's Sylvain Chavanel started the festivities by attacking. He was chased down, but then another group went. German Jens Voigt of Trek attacked and won the intermediate sprint. Cannondale stayed put, saving their matches for the push to the finish.
Finally, a four-man move got away with four laps remaining. Richie Porte of Sky, Jose Serpa of Lampre, Michael Morkov of Tinkoff-Saxo, and Armindo Fonesca of Bretagne-Seche. They never got more than 25 seconds, but they made the field work. Cannondale and Giant-Shimano sent a few riders to chase while Lotto-Belisol put their team at the front to make sure the break didn't succeed.
With two laps remaining, Porte attacked the break, feeling they weren't going fast enough. He only held out for a lap before being reabsorbed, thanks to the efforts of Cannondale and the other sprinters teams.
In the final kilometers, The Giant-Shimano squad battled with Omega-Pharma-Quickstep to take the lead. The speed went to ballistic. Sagan was surfing wheels in the pack, trying to find the fastest, best-positioned rider to follow.
The final kilometer started chaotically, as Europcar's Kevin Reza attacked solo. He wasn't trying to win, but help set up his sprinter, Bryan Coquard. The move reshuffled the front and Sagan was suddenly out of position. They went into the final corner, 400 meters remaining, and Sagan was fifteen riders back. Up front, Giant-Shimano's Marcel Kittel was going head-to-head with Katusha's Alexandre Kristoff. Kristoff started pulling away, then Kittel started surging. He pulled even with the Norwegian, and in the remaining meters was able to get his wheel ahead of Kristoff's. The stage was his. Sagan, stuck in traffic, finished ninth.
After the stage, the disappointment of not winning was eclipsed by the joy of a third victory in the Points Competition. "I was happy for this. This year, we were without victory, but we're happy for the green jersey. Every year is different. I'm happy for how it went. It's never easy."
Vincenzo Nibali of Astana went out the winner of the 101st Tour de France, his first victory in Paris. Cannondale's Peter Sagan won the Green Jersey, his third victory in three tries. Thibaut Pinot of FDJ won the White Jersey of Best Young rider, a competition Sagan lead for seven stages. Rafal Majka of Tinkoff-Saxo was the winner of the mountains classification. AG2R was the winner of the Team Competition. And Cannondale's Alessandro De Marchi was the most aggressive rider of the race.
Thanks for joining Cannondale Pro Cycling on this ride around France. The team will be taking it easy for a few days; recovery is important. But their teammates are busy, and the race calendar exte nds to November. Look for the Green Machine wherever there's a finish line.
Tour de France 2014
Stage 21 Évry to Paris (Champs-Élysées) 137.5km
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 3:20:50
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha same time
3. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin – Sharp same time
4. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol same time
5. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma-QuickStep same time
Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cylcing
9. Peter Sagan (Svk) same time
25. Elia Viviani (Ita) 0:00:09
76. Marco Marcato (Ita) 0:00:24
87. Kristijan Koren (Slo) same time
98. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) same time
135. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) 0:01:06
138. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) 0:01:17
139. Jean Marc Marino (Fra) same time
Final General Classification
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 89:59:06
2. Jean-Christophe Péraud (Fra)AG2R La Mondiale 0:07:37
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:08:15
4. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar 0:09:40
5. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:11:24
General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling
52. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) 2:34:54
60. Peter Sagan (Svk) 2:52:52
80. Marco Marcato (Ita) 3:21:16
112. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) 3:52:52
118. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) 4:01:21
135. Kristijan Koren (Slo) 4:29:14
160. Jean Marc Marino (Fra) 5:03:46
162. Elia Viviani (Ita) 5:10:40
Final Points Competition
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 431 pts
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha 282
3. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar 271
4. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 222
5. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 211