A wonderful edition of the Tour de France came to a close as the sun set over Paris on Sunday with Jumbo-Visma riders crossing the line together to celebrate Jonas Vingegaard’s overall win and Wout van Aert's green jersey, and Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) storming the final sprint by a number of bike lengths.
It’s a nigh-on impossible task narrowing down so much drama from over three weeks of high-octane, and at times highly emotional racing, into a baker's dozen of discrete moments but here goes nothing. Here are your best moments in chronological order...

Fabio Jakobsen’s maiden Tour stage win

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The Dutch sprinter’s long road to recovery after his horrific crash in 2020 was completed with his victory in the opening road stage to Nyborg, which ended any lingering controversy over Mark Cavendish’s omission from Quick-Step’s Tour squad and reminded us what a huge talent Fabio Jakobsen is. By a nice sense of symmetry, Jakobsen’s compatriot Dylan Groenewegen won a day later to draw a line under the sorry Tour de Pologne episode which hit both riders in different ways.

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Magnus Cort celebrating polka dots like a stage win

While far bigger things were in store for the Dane, the way in which Magnus Cort rose to the challenge and celebrated taking the KOM points over each of the climbs in his native Denmark couldn’t fail but bring a smile to the faces of even those B&B Hotel riders he rode out of contention in Stage 2.

‘Brilliant to see’ – Cort delights Danish crowd in polka dots

Van Aert’s attack in Stage 4

After finishing second in each of the stages in Denmark, Wout van Aert put things right at the earliest opportunity once the race hit French soil with a remarkable solo attack to win Stage 4 to Calais. Drawing on their previous exploits in the opening stage of Paris-Nice, the entire Jumbo-Visma team went big guns on the Cote du Cap Blanc-Nez to shred the peloton and launch Van Aert towards the win and yellow jersey.

‘Deadly demonstration’ – Van Aert conquers Stage 4 after Jumbo-Visma blow race apart

Jumbo-Dismal on cobbles stage

One day on from their tactical masterclass in the Pas-de-Calais, Jumbo-Visma had a complete shocker on the cobblestone stage to Arenberg – a mechanical for Jonas Vingegaard sparking a Benny Hill-style game of musical bikes as the Dane looked for a steed that fitted him. All’s well that end’s well – although try saying that to Primoz Roglic, whose separate crash ended his hopes of contesting for the overall win.

Chaos on the Col du Galibier

If we all expected Stage 11 to play a significant outcome in the battle for yellow, none of us could have foreseen the unprecedented levels of drama that played out from 70km all the way to the finish. A series of attacks from Jumbo-Visma put the yellow jersey of Tadej Pogacar under pressure, the isolated Slovenian forced to chase down Roglic on a number of occasions.
Pogacar took the bait and fought fire with fire – producing a rally of attacks between him and his rivals. The net result was a defending champion who arrived at the foot of the Col du Granon a spent force and ripe for the taking, with Vingegaard duly cracking the man we thought uncrackable. The smiles on the faces of Roglic and Sepp Kuss as they crossed the line to discover their team-mate was in yellow said it all.

‘Attack, attack, attack!’ – Jumbo-Visma try to crack Pogacar in thriller

Tom Pidcock’s zippy descent of the Galibier

One day after the Galibier fireworks, Britain’s Tom Pidcock used the same climb as the springboard for his outstanding win on Alpe d’Huez. But there was one major difference: his attack was on the same side of the climb, but while going down – at breakneck speed. It was a true descending masterclass from the Olympic mountain bike champion, who swept past remnants of the break before joining forces with the four-time Tour champion Chris Froome for a stage which blended the old and new of British cycling.

‘Heart in your mouth’ – Pidcock flies past rivals at terrifying speeds on descent

Michael Matthews' ding-dong battle with Alberto Bettiol

For all the excitement in the battle for yellow, nothing quite matched what Michael Matthews achieved on the climb to Mende in terms of grit, determination and drama. After twice finishing runner-up, the Australian got himself in the breakaway on the stage to the Massif Central. But with some specialist climbs in the break, he needed to attack from distance to stand a chance of taking the win.
Matthews arrived at the foot of the ramped climb above Mende with a small lead on the pursuers and doggedly held on until succumbing to the inevitable when Alberto Bettiol rode onto his wheel. Once the Italian passed, it looked to be curtains for the BikeExchange-Jayco rider – but Matthews refused to give up. What a way it was for Bling to pick up his first win on the Tour in five years.

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Hugo Houle’s emotional win in Foix

There was hardly a dry eye in Foix when the Canadian journeyman soloed to a first ever professional victory a decade on from the tragic death of his brother, Pierrick, following a hit-and-run incident with a drunk driver. Houle had to do it the hard way – riding back into contention on the descent of the penultimate climb before going clear as the ultimate foil to team-mate Michael Woods.
As the gap grew bigger and Matteo Jorgenson hit the deck behind, Houle held on for a sensational win – and his Israel-Premier Tech’s second of the Tour after Aussie veteran Simon Clarke’s Mat Hayman moment on the cobblestones to Arenberg.

‘For you, Pierrick’ – Houle dedicates win to late brother after winning Stage 16

Vingegaard’s sporting gesture after Pogacar’s crash

The rivalry between the Tour’s two best riders was shown in a different light after the yellow jersey sat up and waited for the white jersey after Pogacar hit the deck skidding in gravel on a tight bend on the descent of the Col de Spandelles. Having narrowly avoided crashing himself just moments earlier, Vingegaard provided one of the moments of the race when he accepted Pogacar’s handshake just before the pair resumed hostilities on the final climb.

Van Aert’s final pull on Hautacam

On the last major climb of the race, Pogacar was already against the ropes when he and his rival caught up with Van Aert around 5km from the summit. The Belgian, who had been in the day’s break, then buried himself for Vingegaard – cracking Pogacar before launching his team-mate to the decisive victory. It’s not often you see the green jersey leading out the yellow jersey to destroy the defending champion on the last summit finish of a race.

Van Aert powers Vingegaard to cusp of Tour title with explosive attack

First French stage win two days from Paris

Just when we thought things couldn’t get much better for Jumbo-Visma, they go and endear themselves to the host nation by ending the French stage drought through Christophe Laporte. No Frenchman had won on the Tour since Julian Alaphilippe in the opening stage of last year’s race – until Laporte got the nod from his team-mates and delivered emphatically in Cahors.

‘Phenomenal!’ - Laporte ends French drought with shock Stage 19 win

Le Gac gives Bisseger a swig of water

Stefan Bisseger’s Tour got off to a rotten start when the time trial specialist crashed twice in the short race of truth in Copenhagen. Things didn’t improve much when an early mechanical in the final time trial saw him swap bikes – but forget to take his water bottle with him. The Swiss toiled in the sweltering heat until he caught up with Frenchman Olivier Le Gac, who kindly obliged by offering him a swig from his bidon.
Giving the whole episode another layer of intrigue, Matej Mohoric, who had only just been passed by Bisseger, drew level with the two riders and then attacked – as if this were a routine road stage reaching its climax.

‘Given up!’ – Bissegger shares drink with rival mid-time trial

Vingegaard and Van Aert's Rocamadour hug

After surviving a heart-in-mouth moment when overcooking a bend on the last descent of the time trial, Vingegaard knocked off his pace a little and eased up on the home straight to allow his indefatigable team-mate Van Aert to take the win by 19 seconds. The prolonged, tender embrace enjoyed by both team-mates at the finish said it all.

Plus... Quote of the race: Yves Lampaert

It came as early as the opening stage, but there wouldn’t be a better seven words uttered throughout the Tour than Lampaert’s emotional “I’m just a farmer’s son from Belgium” after his shock win – and yellow jersey – in the opening time trial at Copenhagen.
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