Jonas Vingegaard celebrated his first Tour de France title after Jasper Philipsen brought the curtain down on the 109th edition with a sprint victory in Paris.
Vingegaard crossed the line arm in arm with his Jumbo-Visma team-mates, with Wout Van Aert – a winner on the Champs-Elysees 12 months ago – choosing to sit out the sprint to be part of the merriment.
Up ahead, Alpecin-Deceuninck’s Philipsen took his second victory of this Tour as he came around Dylan Groenewegen in the final few hundred metres to win comfortably, with Alexander Kristoff a much closer third.
Vingegaard finished three minutes 34 seconds clear of Tadej Pogacar, with 2018 winner Geraint Thomas completing the podium.
“It’s just incredible,” the 25-year-old Dane said. “Now I’ve finally won the Tour. Now nothing can go wrong anymore and I’m sitting here with my daughter and it’s just incredible.
“It’s the biggest cycling race of the year, the biggest one you can win and now I’ve done it and nobody can take this away from me.
“I’m super happy about my victory now. Of course I want to celebrate, I want to relax, but then I always want more.”
The battle for yellow had effectively been sealed in Saturday’s time trial, with Sunday’s stage for celebrations and for sprinting.
Groenewegen’s Team BikeExchange-Jayco led the peloton through the final bend and on to the Champs-Elysees but the Dutchman was made to go too soon and had no response when Philipsen powered his way past at the end of the 116km closing stage.
“I cannot believe it, it’s a childhood dream coming true,” said Philipsen, who took his first Tour win on stage 15 in Carcassonne. “This will take a while to realise. I’m just super proud of the team. That we could finish a Tour like this is the cherry on the cake.
“I think it went ideal for me. I was in a great position and I think Dylan was forced to launch early and I could stay in his wheel and do my final sprint when I wanted to. I’m super happy and proud – to win on the Champs-Elysees is the dream of any sprinter.”
A six-man breakaway had tried its luck late on, but there was no way the sprint teams, starved of opportunities since the Grand Depart in Copenhagen, were going to pass up the now-familiar bunch finish on the boulevard.
The irrepressible Pogacar, true to form, launched an attack on the last of the eight laps of the circuit but was soon shut down. It was a move befitting a Tour marked by attacking riding and relentless pace, set to go down as the fastest ever ridden.
The pace over the first half of this stage, ridden through the south western suburbs of the capital, was very different.
As the riders approached Versailles Jumbo-Visma riders clinked champagne glasses, celebrating Vingegaard’s victory both in the general classification but also the kind of the mountains competition, not to mention Van Aert’s green jersey in the points classification and six stage wins in all.
While Vingegaard and Pogacar traded blows throughout the Alps and Pyrenees in the fight for yellow, the 36-year-old Thomas rode a controlled race that has brought him a third career podium finish in this race.
“I’m still making the most of it,” the Welshman said. “As I’ve said now many times, I’m much closer to the end of my career than the start, so really make the most of it, soak it all in and enjoy days like this because they don’t come around too often.”
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.