UnknownTDF - Stage 21 - Parc des Princes
Stage 21 and the race is shipped to the south west Parisian suburb of Rambouillet, riding through the Forêt de Rambouillet for the final stage procession into Paris, and the sprint-royale on the Champs Élysées.
On the way they pass the once famous finishing arena for the Tour de France, now famous for being the home to football side PSG, the Parc des Princes. What most people don’t know however is the Parc, although multi-purpose over the years, started life as a velodrome, hence it was known as “Stade Vélodrome du Parc des Princes”. It hosted the finish of the race from its beginning in 1903 until 1967 when the finish line moved to Vélodrome de Vincennes in the east of the city for 7 years, before eventually finishing in its current location.
The Parc des Princes can no longer host cycling, but it got me thinking if those final stages that finished there were always processional as they are now? In the 60’s the final stage to the Parc was usually a time trial, but from the 50’s back to the beginning of the Tour, the final stage was usually over 250 Km’s, sometimes as much as 340 Km! Hard to think riders would be taking it easy and not attacking over that distance.
Procession or not, it doesn’t detract from the achievement of each rider who rides down the Champs Élysées today. They’ve just completed one of the, if not the hardest, sporting events in the world, and for that they all deserve applause.