Stage 21: Evry > Paris Champs-Elysées

It’s the final stage. The procession into Paris. Clinking champagne glasses for our jersey wearers and, no doubt, for Jens Voigt as he says goodbye to this race. All that  remains in doubt is who will take the final stage victory and who will still be watching to see it happen live. You see, last year’s “dusk” finish was such a success, they’ve decided to do it again. Coverage here doesn’t start until 11.00pm AEST and even the earliest estimated finish time would have us hitting our pillows after 3.00am. TrollDJ has been collecting votes for our favourite clips to play tonight, but I don’t think even that is going to keep me awake beyond midnight, despite how lovely it will be to see Péraud and Pinot flanking Nibali on the podium.

Nor is there a prospect of vaches riches to keep us tuned in. We’re in a region where, according to the Tourist Attractions page on the official website, the economy is based on “pharmaceutical products, office machines, computers, research” and a local speciality is “lark pâté”.  Maybe its Sherliggett’s frequent references to the Ministry of Silly Faces, but I just can’t take stop sniggering at the lark pâté.


 Image: Paris Daily Photo

Ile de France is not a complete vaches-lovers desert, it’s just that we are more likely to taste them than see them. Grab yourself a bit of creamy soft cheese to go with your champagne; either some Brie de Meaux or Coulommiers will be perfect to represent the region. M Vache has picked up hanger steak but has voted against Café de Paris butter and is instead going back to Gascony with a recipe that includes bone marrow, veal stock and butter. We are seeing out this race in vache-tastic style!

Pie Rouge

Stage 5: Rouen > Saint-Quentin

Today’s 197km is flat. How flat? Pancake flat, according to the BBC. There are no categorised climbs and the intermediate sprint point is a little over halfway, at 109km. This is a day for the sprinters and we can hope to see one of those classic battles of the lead-out trains. Mark Cavendish would look to be a good bet on paper, but he came down in the last 3km of last night’s stage and we’ll have to wait and see what effect that will have today. Peter Sagan might be polishing a new dance move in anticipation of another win and Lotto will be fired up after Greipel’s stage four win.

Leaving the coast means moving away from those treacherous winds and – hopefully – the lumpy roads.  The first week nerves should be starting to settle – perhaps the peloton will stabilise at 195 riders for a while after losing Rabobank’s Tjallingii before stage four. Sky’s Svitsov and Movistar’s Rojas were also casualties of stage three. Those watching in timezone GMT +10 will be appreciative of a relatively early night.

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