THE DAILY TOUR STAGE PREVIEW STAGE # 21

JEAN-FRAN€OIS PESCHEUX’S ANALYSIS: “A sprint by tradition”

‘It has been the tradition since 1975 for the Tour de France to end with a prestigious stage finish on the Champs-lys‚es. At the start in Cr‚teil, we will remember Laurent Fignon, who held a license with the local club. In 1989, his duel with Greg LeMond maintained the suspense right to the finish, where Fignon was sure that he would be the winner. That was the only occasion that the final stage was run as a time trial. Every other time, it has been a road stage that has been decided in a bunch sprint, except on four occasions. Those exceptions were the victories taken by Alain Messmate in 1977, Bernard Hinault in 1979, Eddy Seigneur in 1994 and Alexandre Vinokourov in 2005. It is incredibly hard to get a telling gap on this stage when breakaway riders are always within sight of the peloton.’

The Start:

? Stage town on 3 previous occasions
? 90, 000 inhabitants
? Prefecture of Val-de-Marne (94)

The gateway to Paris, just eight kilometers away, and capital in its own right of the Val-de-Marne department since 1965, Cr‚teil is located in the south east of the Ile-de-France region, between the Seine and Marne rivers. An old market town, Cr‚teil has enjoyed huge expansion since the 1960s, and over time, has discovered its own identity. It has based its development on a coherent, balanced and above all human urbanization. The quality of the building work, reflecting the personalities of their architects, such as Charles Gustave Stoskopf and Pierre Dufau, both winners of the Grand Prix de Rome architecture award, the willingness for a mix of housing and the proximity of amenities and services make Cr‚teil a pleasant place to love. Having been awarded one of France’s highest honors for its flower displays, the town has managed to combine quality of life with the necessities of modern life through continual involvement in sustainable development. By making ambitious efforts to involve its residents, Cr‚teil ensures everyone contributes to making the decisions that shape their own future.

Of the three times that the Tour de France has gone past Cr‚teil, the 1983 edition particularly stands out. The race’s initial stage set off from Nogent-sur-Marne and was won by the Dutch rider Frits Pirard. Three weeks later, the name of Cr‚teil was honored again with the overall victory of the sadly missed Laurent Fignon, who belonged to the local club, US Cr‚teil, at that time. Greg LeMond and the prestigious track cycling riders Morelon, Trentin, Colas and Dagorne have also all been members of the club, as is the current World Track Sprint Champion, Gr‚gory Baug‚, today.

The Finish:

? Traditional final finish town of the Tour de France
? 36 finishes on the Champs-lys‚es
? 2, 200, 000 inhabitants
? Capital of France and the cantonal subdivision of the ?le-de-France Region Commune-department and Prefecture

Paris loves the Tour de France, and will once more welcome it to the world’s most beautiful avenue, the Champs-lys‚es, where the race’s heroes will sprint home in front of Parisians and visitors from all over the world. But Paris loves cycling in all its forms. In recent years, the city has constructed new cycle lanes, and now has a network of 700km. It closes the roads on the banks of the river to motor vehicles on Sundays and Bank Holidays, and also this year celebrates the fourth anniversary of the V‚lib’ hire bike scheme, which has seen more than 100 millions journeys by users since its inception in Paris and its 30 surrounding municipalities. To appeal even more to those signed up to the cycle scheme’s annual membership – who make up 76 per cent of the users ? the mayor’s office is now offering increased ‘V‚libert‚’ through improved comfort, simplicity and better price structures. This increased number of cyclists in the city as a result of the scheme’s success is also helping to meet its pledge to reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent by 2020.
Since 1975, the Tour’s final finish has been judged on the Avenue des Champs-Elys‚es, which has become a Mecca for the world’s sprinters. The fastest riders, among those who have managed to withstand crossing the chain of mountains, compete for a prestigious victory there, and for the green jersey which is sometimes still at stake. Those who try to surprise the peloton and finish the Tour triumphantly have reason to be hopeful. Bernard Hinault, the two-times winner on ‘les Champs.’

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