Good afternoon. Hot enough for you? The mercury rises to 30 degrees in Paris, where the Tour de France will conclude in about four hours. The final stage looks like a procession, save for the final sprint along the Champs-Elysees, although it probably won’t feel that way for most of the pack after three weeks of racing.
This edition of the tour has been defined by two people (OK, maybe three people). First of all, the tireless and remarkable Tadej Pogacar, who is about to follow the last-gasp victory of last year with a very different victory. The Slovenian has had supreme dominance, commanding this race throughout the month of July.
More on him later, of course, but at the finish line today all eyes will be on the other 2021 Tour superstar, Mark Cavendish. Returning to the race felt like a great achievement; not even the same man could hope for four stage victories and a chance to rewrite cycling history.
If he wins today, Cavendish will beat Eddy Merckx’s record for Tour stage wins. The Belgian’s tally of 34 stage wins is a symbol of his total dominance. No one was supposed to get over it, but here we are. Cav’s moment of truth will arrive around 7pm (BST); before that, a chance to have some champagne in the sun.