Tour de France Stages 17-21 Review + Look Back
As this year’s Tour careered to its end in Paris, there was one man’s name on everybody’s lips – Vincenzo Nibali. The Sicilian has dominated this year’s Tour; capitalizing on the earlier exits of key rivals to exert his powerful influence over the race with some fantastic riding.
Whilst the departures of Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish and Alberto Contador – on stages 5, 1 and 10 respectively – admittedly denied the race of a genuine heavyweight battle between one of those three and Nibali, nothing should be taken away from the overall victor.
He has now become only the sixth rider in history to win all three of the grand tours; and on Sunday he became the first Italian to bring home the yellow jersey in 16 years. The self-dubbed ‘flag-bearer of anti-doping’ –who has never been implicated in any sort of doping scandal – couldn’t have been more delighted with his win:
‘Cycling is Moving Forward’
‘It’s not just my victory,’ Nibali said on the podium. ‘There have been many clean wins and cycling is moving forward. We can be proud of it. I was a bit late maturing this season, but I still continued to believe in reaching this objective, the Tour.’
The green jersey was secured by Cannondale’s Peter Sagan; who held the jersey from the second day and won by 149 points. The sprinters accolade saw him accumulate 431 points. Rafal Majka was crowned King of the Mountains; taking the polka-dot jersey with 181 points – just 13 ahead of Nibali.
The Grand Depart of Yorkshire already seems a long time ago now; but the two days spent in the county were arguably the highlight of this year’s race. Over a memorable two days, Le Tour captured the hearts of the UK public; with race director Christian Prudhomme dubbing it the ‘grandest Grand Depart’ in the 111-year history of the race.
With the Tour de France now over for another year; here’s a look back at the final 5 stages of an extremely successful year of elite cycling. We’ll continue to cover more world and local cycling events at Wheelie Good Guys; so make sure you keep coming back to us.
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Stage 17 – Majka Seals the Double
The race continued from Saint-Gaudens to Saint Lary Pla d’Adet; over 124.5km – the second shortest stage distance on the 2014 Tour. Rafal Majka followed up his stage 14 victory with another; with the Polish rider increasing his lead over Joaquim Rodriguez in the Kind of the Mountains competition in the process. It was Tinkoff-Saxo’s third mountain stage win out of four; and continued a stunning recovery from Alberto Contador’s stage 10 exit.
4 Climbs in Final 76km
In the final few kilometers of the race, Vincenzo Nibali continued to flex his muscles, as he continued to evidence that he was still yet to be taken to his limit – Alejandro Valverde lost a further 49 seconds to the Italian. Despite the stage seeing the peloton spend under 4 hours in the saddle, the four main climbs of the last 76km tested the rider’s endurance and strength.
Stage 18 – Nibali Does it Again
Once again it was Vincenzo Nibali who sealed the stage victory; as he continued to soar over all his nearest challengers. He rode solo to victory at the end of the 18th stage which saw a 145.5km journey for the peloton from Pau to Hautacam. It was the Italian’s fourth stage win of the 2014 Tour, as he continued to make the yellow jersey something of a formality. With an overall advantage of now over seven minutes, the achievements of Nibali were becoming ever more impressive.
More ‘Selfie’ Problems
The Italian attacked 10km from the top, finishing just over a minute ahead of Thibaut Pinot. There was more ‘selfie’ controversy, as a lady put her elbow into Nibali as he raced clear. It was further evidence of the problems fans have caused through lack of awareness of the competitors. Many cycling fans will be hoping that it does not become a problem for the event and continue to tarnish fan reputations.
Stage 19 – First Lithuanian Stage Win
There was a first Lithuanian stage win at the tour de France; as Ramunas Navardauskas claimed a solo victory in Bergnac. The peloton travelled 208.5km from Maubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour to the finish; which was marred by Peter Sagan being taken down in a crash that prevented the sprinters mounting a proper assault.
Torrential Rain as Battle For Second Hots Up
The battle behind Nibali provided more competition than the lead itself, with places 2-9 well up for grabs for the rest of the racers. Jean-Christophe Peraud, Alejandro Valverde and Thibaut Pinot found themselves separated by only 15 seconds overall in the battle for the overall positions of second and third. Torrential rain battered the riders in the finale of the race, as they battled against the elements to reach the finish line.
Stage 20 – Martin Dominates Time Trial
In the shortest stage of the 2014 Tour de France Tony Martin bossed the time trial to claim a predictable victory. There was some past French glory retained as well; as two of their countrymen were placed on the podium for the first time in 30 years – Jean-Christophe Peraud and Thibaut Pinot both rode impressive races to finish second and third respectively. Alejandro Valverde continued to fade; and was never in the hunt after a disappointing day.
Sunday Set for Italian Celebrations
Nibali finished fourth in the time trial; continuing a trend that has seen none of his challengers gain anything on him over any of the most critical stages. With a victory all but sealed the Italian could relax; and was left looking to Sunday to seal a memorable day for Italy.
Stage 21 – History Belongs to Nibali
In a race he led for 18 days out of 21; Vincenzo Nibali was finally able to seal his maiden Tour de France win. It was also a glorious day for France; as Jean-Christophe peraud and Thibaut Pinot secured second and third positions respectively. Marcel Kittel secured his second stage victory, taking home the Champs-Elysees in a repeat of last year. The 137.5km journey from Ervy to Paris Champs-Elysees was all about Vincenzo Nibali though; as he assured himself a place in the pantheon of great cyclists.
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