It was a scintillating end to the Tour de France for UAE Team Emirates as Alexander Kristoff took home the iconic final stage win. The reigning European Champion, who picked up a stage win at the Abu Dhabi Tour earlier this year, saw off stiff competition in the sprint finish on the Champs-Élysées to take home what is one of the most coveted Grand Tour stages.
Kristoff had narrowly missed out on a stage victory at this year’s Tour, but there was no doubting the Norwegian today. He found himself in the perfect position in the build up to the sprint, and as his fellow specialists battled it out, Kristoff came off the wheel of Frenchman Arnaud Demare to showcase his power and thrust his wheel over the finish line in front of a packed crowd.
The famous yellow jersey, awarded to the winner of the General Classification (GC), was taken home by Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) – the Brit finished +09:05” ahead of Martin in the GC standings.
Commenting on his stage victory, Alexander Kristoff said: “I’ve dreamt about this victory for many years. I’ve been close before but I’ve never managed to beat the faster guys like Greipel, Kittel and Cavendish. But today they were not here- they are out after the mountains. So today I was the fastest and I am super happy. It’s a dream come true.”
Discussing his thrilling bunch sprint performance, Kristoff continued: “I was a bit far back after the roundabout, but I was with Ferrari who led me to the front. Then I saw that Trek were giving a really good lead out and I managed to get on their wheel. I got a good start and was able to pass John (Degenkolb), but it was still far out and I had to push. Thankfully nobody managed to come close to me in the last 20m and I knew I would win. I am just so happy I was able to do it.”
It was also a historic day for UAE Team Emirates as Dan Martin picked up the award for the most combative rider of the Tour, after several inspirational attacking performances across key mountain stages. It’s the first award for Martin since joining the Emirati formation at the start of the 2018 UCI World Tour season.
After finishing his first Tour for UAE Team Emirates, Dan Martin said: “This is an amazing moment. What a magical place to be, with the Arc du Triumph in the background and the Champs Elysees in front of us. It’s all just starting to sink in now. It’s always special finishing the Tour, but even more so today. I have really enjoying this year’s race and I’m a bit gutted it’s over. So now I am just looking forward to next year even more.”
Commenting on his ambitions, Martin continued: “I’m not sure if I jinxed myself before this edition by saying that my ambition was to get through without crashing and having bad luck because it happened again. That said, I race the way I race and I still think a podium is possible I just need to piece that perfect performance together. It isn’t all about bad luck, it’s about being in the right place at the right time and I think you make your own good luck a lot of the time. You learn every year you ride the Tour and I’ll take those lessons to next year because I want to end up standing on that podium on merit.”
Elsewhere, UAE Team Emirates continue their exploits on the UCI World Tour with the likes of Fabio Aru competing at the Tour of Wallonie.
Stage 21 Results
- Alexander Kristoff (Nor) – UAE Team Emirates 2:46:36
- John Degenkolb (Ger) – Trek-Segafredo “
- Arnaud Demare (Fra) – Groupama FDJ “
General Classification Standings
- Geraint Thomas (GBr) – Team Sky 83:17:13
- Tom Dumoulin (Ned) – Team Sunweb +01:51
- Chris Froome (GBr) – Team Sky +02:24
- Dan Martin (Irl) – UAE Team Emirates +09:05
- Peter Sagan (Slo) – Bora Hansgrohe 477 points
- Alexander Kristoff (Nor) – UAE Team Emirates 246 points
- Arnaud Demare (Fra) – Groupama FDJ 203 points