It all went to script today. You know the drill if you've seen this before. The champagne pictures on the roll in to Paris for Team Sky. The yellow, green, polka-dot and white jersey wearers photographed together. A pretend attack by Mikel Landa on Romain Bardet, but never any intention of anything real. And then a criterium around the streets of Paris to decide the unofficial sprinters world championship.
And it was Dylan Groenewegen who won it. Close on several sprint stages already, he got the biggest sprint win of all today. Second was Andre Greipel. His long streak of winning a stage at every Grand Tour he had entered, dating back to the 2007 Vuelta, was over. A disappointing Tour for the big German who came fast in the sprint but left it a little too late.
That is all there is to say about the stage itself to tell the truth. While thrilling in the final kilometres, it tends to be uneventful, which is as it should be. This day is as much a celebration of the feat that came before. About soaking in the effort of the previous twenty stages ahead of a bunch gallop. There is rarely controversy or major talking points following this stage. Off the top of my head I have to think all the way back to 1991 and the first finish in Paris I can remember watching for a moment like that. That was the year Djamolidine Abdoujaparov had his epic crash during the sprint for the line while wearing the green jersey.
I was a big Abdou fan back then and that moment of madness only enhanced his reputation in my young eyes. He would return to win the stage in 1993 and 1995 with the former coming in the green jersey again. Only twice since then has someone won this stage while in green, which is quite surprising. That was Robbie McEwen in 2002 and Mark Cavendish in 2011. This years green jersey, Michael Matthews finished way down in 11th.
You have to think had he survived this Tour and kept his jersey, Marcel Kittel would have been a sure bet to add to that short list of green jersey winners here. But that's the special thing about this sprint. You have to survive 20 gruelling stages before you even get a shot at it. Kittel did but Groenewegen did.
And moments after the gallop for the line we had the familiar sight of Chris Froome rolling over with his arms in the air. The Tour de France yellow jersey secured. He now stands alone with four Tour wins, on the edge of greatness. One more for legendary status. And in his post-race press conference he suggested he would like to do many more. So why not?
Further analysis to follow, but that is all on the stage.
Final general classification:
1. Chris Froome (Sky) in 86h20'55"
2. Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) +54"
3. Romain Bardet (AG2R) +2'20"
4. Mikel Landa (Sky) +2'21"
5. Fabio Aru (Astana) 3'5"
6. Dan Martin (Quick-Step) +4'42"