Wout van Aert spoils Mark Cavendish’s party as Belgian charges to victory in Paris and blocks Manx Missile from taking record 35th stage… as Tadej Pogacar seals overall victory on final day of Tour de France
- Wout van Aert sprinted to victory on the final stage of the Tour de France
- Mark Cavendish finished third, falling short of taking a record 35th stage win
- The Manx Missile ends a sensational Tour with four wins and the green jersey
- Tadej Pogacar crossed the line in Paris to seal back-to-back overall victories
It was supposed to be Mark Cavendish’s magical night but Wout van Aert spoiled the party in Paris, as the Belgian charged to victory on Stage 21 of the Tour de France.
If it had been Cavendish rumbling down the Champs Elysees with his arms in the air, the veteran would have snatched . Instead, he completes the race with the green jersey, four victories and deadlocked with Eddy Merckx in the history books.
A perfect lead-out by Jumbo-Visma team-mate Mike Teunissen launched Van Aert to his third victory of the Tour, as Tadej Pogacar rolled in behind to seal back-to-back overall victories.
Wout Van Aert took victory on Stage 21 of the Tour de France, beating Mark Cavendish (right)
‘Cav’ couldn’t grab his record 35th stage, but joined Tadej Pogacar on the podium to collect the green jersey after the Slovenian dominated the yellow jersey race
The Slovenian sensation mauled his weakened competition this summer, finishing the three weeks five minutes and 20 seconds ahead of Jumbo-Visma’s Jonas Vingergaard, with Ineos climber Richard Carapaz more than a minute further back.
The 22-year-old has rocked the sport with his stunning dominance, topping the mountains and youth classifications alongside his yellow jersey glory for the second successive year.
The Slovenian had to ride 350 metres extra on the final stage this year, after the finish line had been moved further along the cobbled Champs Elysees. The move ensured Cavendish’s Deceuninck-QuickStep team would have their work cut-out to stifle their opposition.
The Manxman chose to follow Van Aert rather than stick with his trusted lead-out pilot, Michael Morkov. It proved to be his fatal mistake, as the Belgian launched his sprint late and left Cavendish trapped on the barriers.
The Slovenian rode into Paris with his team after dominating back-to-back editions of the Tour
Jonas Vingergaard and Richard Carapaz joined the 22-year-old on the podium of the GC
The 36-year-old thumped his handlebars as he conceded defeat but won’t be dissatisfied after a stunning resurgence in the twilight of his career, following years battling illness and having been written off pre-race.
Jasper Philipsen rolled in second, with sprinting icon Andre Griepel finishing his final Tour de France stage in fifth.
Van Aert’s was one of the most impressive performances at the 2021 Tour, winning the mountain stage over Mont Ventoux, stage 20’s time-trial and the final day’s iconic sprint.
He became the first man since 1979 to complete such a trio, and said: ‘This Tour has been amazing.
The spectacular final stage brought the race to an end after three weeks of suffering
The riders stormed through Paris before Van Aert grabbed his third stage win of the race
‘It’s been such a roller-coaster and to finish off with a win like this is beyond my expectations.
‘I guess I gave myself a problem because I have to catch a flight tonight (to the Olympics) and all these interviews will take a while, I’ll have to see if I can get there but I’m definitely not sorry that I went for it today.
‘To win three stages like this is priceless, so thanks to my small team.’