Chris Froome set his sights on equalling the record of five Tour de France victories after sealing his fourth yesterday.
Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen won stage 21 in a sprint finish on the Champs-Elysees, while Team Sky’s Froome crossed the line just behind to confirm the victory he effectively sealed in Saturday’s time trial in Marseille.
Froome had been able to enjoy the celebrations on the 103km stage from Montgeron before watching on as Groenewegen held off the late charging German Andre Greipel and Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen for his first Tour stage win.
Froome’s wife Michelle and son Kellan were waiting near the finish line to celebrate with the 32-year-old.
“It’s just an amazing feeling,” Froome said. “The Champs-Elysees never disappoints. There’s something magical about it when you spend three weeks thinking of this moment.
“It’s amazing to see my wife and my son again after several months on the road. Each time I’ve won the Tour it has been so unique. All my victories are so special in their own ways.
“This one will be remembered as the closest and most hard fought of them.”
The record of five wins is jointly held by four of cycling’s all-time greats – men Froome now hopes to join. “It’s a huge honour to be mentioned in the same sentence as Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain,” he said. “It’s a privilege to be going for the record next year.”
Froome’s final margin of victory over former team-mate Rigoberto Uran was 54 seconds, making this the seventh-closest finish in Tour history. Cannondale-Drapac’s Uran could celebrate his highest ever Tour finish, while AG2R La Mondiale’s Frenchman Romain Bardet finished third, two minutes and 20 seconds off Froome’s time.
The 24-year-old Groenewegen, pictured, had been left with only four team-mates after the Tour took its toll on the LottoNL-Jumbo squad, but they were enough to put him in the right place in a messy sprint. “This is an amazing place for the sprinters,” he said. “To win on the Champs-Elysees makes it a perfect day.
“We’re only five riders in the team but it was enough today. They did a great job. When I was young, I was looking at the Champs-Elysees stage on TV. Now I’m the winner here it’s wonderful.”
The stage began in Montgeron, where the very first Tour started in 1903. As is customary for the final day of the Tour, there was a jovial mood for the first 40 kilometres. Team Sky had changed their blue stripe to yellow on the kit and team cars, while Froome rode a yellow bike as he clinked glasses of champagne with his team-mates and sports directors in the car.
Cyril Gautier used the moment to propose to his girlfriend via the medium of a scrawled note on a page torn from the race roadbook, held up for the camera motorbike.Things began to get a little more serious as the race arrived in the city, with Froome pulling over to change his bike – having begun the day with a mounted camera to capture the celebrations.
The attacks began almost as soon as they arrived on the Champs-Elysees, with Offredo and Orica-Scott’s Daryl Impey the first to try.
Impey was part of a nine-man group that went clear up the road as spots of rain began to fall, but their mission was doomed.
Astana’s Dimitriy Gruzdev and Quick-Step Floors Zdenek Stybar also launched fruitless late lunges before the real battle began.
As the rest of the peloton followed the sprinters over the line, Orica-Scott’s Simon Yates confirmed his seventh place overall and the white jersey as the best young rider in the race.
Australian Michael Matthews sealed the green jersey in the points classification, with his French Sunweb team-mate Warren Barguil safe in the polka dot jersey as king of the mountains.
Froome will now turn his attention to the Vuelta a Espana, where he hopes to become the first man since Marco Pantani in 1998 to win two grand tours in the same season.
No rider has done the Tour double since Bernard Hinault in 1978, when the Vuelta took place in the early part of the season.
This year’s Vuelta starts in Nimes, France on 19 August.