Mark Cavendish described the "wall of noise" that Tour de France competitors have to deal with in the last stage at the Champs-Elysees.
While the first part of the day’s racing is typically not competitive, with cyclists coming together to acknowledge the winner-elect, the concluding final sprint around the Champs-Elysees - there will be eight laps on Sunday - is hotly contested.
Winning the last stage of the most famous Grand Tour is obviously a significant achievement and Cavendish is no stranger to success - on the final stage - or the Tour itself.
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He shares the record with the legendary Eddy Merkcx for stage wins at the Tour, at 34, and he has the highest number of wins in the finale (four).
In 2021 he could managed third place, though he won the points classification, but he was not included in the Quick-Step AlphaVinyl team for this year’s race.
He hopes to compete in the 2023 edition, though, despite being 37 years old, and his passion came through when describing the event on Eurosport.
“As soon as you enter, there’s a wall of noise, and for the laps you do, whether it’s four laps, whether it’s eight laps, words don’t do justice to the feeling,” he began. “So first of all it’s an emotional rollercoaster you’ve been on for three weeks, that’s what you’re focused on: your goal to get there.
“It’s as big an achievement to finish the Tour de France as it is to win something else.
“As soon as you hit the circuit there’s a wall of noise and you’re not going to hear anything at this stage. It’s incredible and everyone knows it. You ask people who like cycling where does the Tour de France finish, they’ll say, ‘The Champs-Elysees’. It’s pretty iconic.”
He continued, explaining the intricacies of riding on cobblestone, a surface more usually seen in the north east of France.
Cavendish said: “Anyone who's been to Paris, walked up the Champs-Elysees, they know that it’s a hill. If you see it on TV you don’t really get the sense of what a climb it is.
“It gets really steep. And when you’re riding on cobblestones you don’t float over cobblestones. You have to keep the momentum, keep the pressure, even losing half a pedal pressure, that will affect your momentum on the cobblestones.
“Thinking of that while you’re trying to keep your bike safe, but actually from side to side it changes how rough the road is. It tends to suit a sprinter who can keep a sustained power for a high amount of time. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not always the case.
“There are sprinters who’ve got a short burst who could win, but if you statistically looked at it, you’d say, ‘OK, someone who can keep that sustained power for a long time.’
“It makes for not just a special win because of it being the last stage of the Tour de France, but a special win as a sprint because you have to get it right.”
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