Tour de France 2022 stage 21 LIVE: Jonas Vingegaard set for victory ahead of Champs-Elysees sprint today

Annemiek van Vleuten eager to make mark at inaugural Tour de France Femmes

Race favourite Annemiek van Vleuten has declared herself “ready” for Sunday’s start of inaugural edition of the Tour de France Femmes.

The former world champion will be one of 144 riders who will race down the Champs-Elysees when this long-awaited ‘proper’ women’s edition of the Tour gets under way.

The 82km sprint around Paris will be merely an hors d’oeuvres for the eight-day race, which will cover 1,029km on its way to a climax on La Super des Planche des Belles Filles on July 31.

Van Vleuten, the 2019 world champion who is in her penultimate season at the age of 39, goes into the race full of confidence after securing her third Giro Donne crown earlier this month.

Annemiek van Vleuten eager to make mark at inaugural Tour de France Femmes

The women’s edition of the Tour will cover 1,029km over eight days

How Jonas Vingegaard and Jumbo-Visma broke Tadej Pogacar’s stranglehold on the Tour de France

One of the beauties of the Tour de France is the myriad ways in which it can be won. Sometimes a rider bullies from start to finish, like Bernard Hinault, who intimidated rivals with his presence and crushed them at every opportunity en route to Paris in 1981. Time-trial specialists mark rivals on the climbs and hurt them on the clock, as Miguel Indurain did so emphatically in 1992, and again in 1994. Chris Froome used Team Sky’s stranglehold on the peloton to suffocate his opponents, while Tadej Pogacar’s back-to-back wins in 2020 and 2021 displayed his individual, unpredictable brilliance.

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Jonas Vingegaard is the latest man to win the Tour, and for all his unerring strength and resilience across these past three weeks, the race was won in a decisive hour in the Alps, when Jumbo-Visma’s team tactics isolated and outwitted Pogacar and stripped the yellow jersey from his back.

Head to head, there has not been much to choose between the two leading protagonists of this year’s compelling story. Both are capable time-triallists, both strong climbers, both clearly able to handle the unique pressures that come with leading a team in a grand tour. Pogacar had a slight burst of flat speed that helped him edge stages seven and 17, and the punchier legs that saw him surge to victory on stage 6, back when it seemed his race to lose. Vingegaard had the edge in the highest mountains, where he never cracked despite Pogacar’s best efforts.

How Jonas Vingegaard broke Tadej Pogacar’s stranglehold on the Tour de France

Vingegaard’s strength and resilience ultimately won the Tour, but his triumph also required an aggressive team ploy ruthlessly executed to make reigning champion Pogacar wilt

‘It changes everything’: Why the Tour de France Femmes is a historic moment for women’s cycling

After years of failed attempts and half-hearted gimmicks, women’s cycling will finally have a Tour de France worthy of the name when it begins in Paris on Sunday. The brand new Tour de France Femmes is the most lucrative ever women’s cycling race, bursting with talent on a varied and challenging eight-stage parcours built to entertain, and organiser ASO has perhaps finally planted the seeds of a race which will grow and blossom for many summers to come.

There have been several different incarnations of a women’s Tour de France stretching back to 1955. The race peaked during the 1980s but faded away, and when it returned under the guise of the one-day La Course in 2014, thanks to sustained pressure and campaigning, it always felt like a token gesture, an afterthought tacked on to the men’s race. ASO’s claim that it was unfeasible to have both a men’s and women’s Tour only ever seemed like an excuse.

Now the Tour de France Femmes stands alone as a multiple stage race in its own right, with the resources and the momentum to flourish. Virtual cycling giant Zwift is the lead sponsor, signing a four-year deal and helping fund a prize pot of more than £200,000, with around £40,000 for the winner. More significant is that TV coverage of the race will be wide-reaching, even if it is a shame ITV will not be showing the action free-to-air as it has done for the men’s edition. UK fans can watch via Eurosport, Discovery+ or Global Cycling Network.

Why the inaugural Tour de France Femmes ‘changes everything’

Women’s cycling finally has its own Tour de France again with an eight-stage race which begins on Sunday. British rider Lizzie Holden and campaigner Louise Vardeman explain why it will change the game

Tour de France 2022 stage 21 preview: Route map and profile of Paris finale

The 2022 Tour de France comes to a close on Sunday with a 116km jaunt to the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

The traditional stage 21 truce means Jonas Vingegaard will get to enjoy the procession to the French capital alongside his Jumbo-Visma teammates at the end of a long, hard month, and modern tradition dictates the winning team drink champagne as they ride.

They may well have sore heads from Saturday’s celebrations after sealing the yellow jersey in style, earning a one-two on the stage 20 individual time trial with the green jersey of Wout van Aert pipping teammate Vingegaard to the victory.

It has been a sensational Tour for both riders and Van Aert will try to pick up his fourth stage win of the race when the pack arrive on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday afternoon for what is typically a bunch sprint.

The superstar Belgian may be the favourite for this one but he will face competition from those sprinters who struggled through the Alps and Pyrenees to get to this point, all desperate to win the prestigious Paris stage. Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Fabio Jakobsen (QuickStep), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin) and Dylan Groenewegen (BikeEchange) are among those who will hope to challenge.

Geraint Thomas will ride to Paris to confirm the third podium position of his Tour de France career, the dethroned Tadej Pogacar will win the young rider’s white jersey, and Vingegaard will collect the polka dot jersey to go along with yellow, after his efforts in the Pyrenees saw him rise to the top of the King of the Mountains classification.

Tour de France 2022 stage 21 preview: Route map and profile of Paris finale

Wout van Aert will be on the hunt for victory on the Champs-Elysees but there will be plenty of competition from the sprinters who have made it to Paris

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