Tour de France Stage 21 Tips: Cavendish should beat Merckx's record

Mads Pedersen at Tour de France
Mads Pedersen (pictured) could cause an upset, but this should be Cavendish's stage

On what is a largely ceremonial day, writes Jack Houghton, all eyes will be on Cavendish's attempt to break Merckx's record of Tour stage wins

"There will be breakaway attempts, but they are unlikely to be successful: the sprint trains won't let anyone get more than a few seconds' advantage..."

What's the stage like?

An even shorter than usual last stage, at only 108km, but as the first 50km of that is a meander around the outskirts of Paris, purely for the benefit of the press pack to take the traditional photos of the Yellow Jersey holder, the length is largely irrelevant.

There is a Category 4 climb in the first 7km of the stage, which will formally end the competition for the Mountains Classification. Tadej Pogacar has already won that, though, along with the General Classification and Young Rider Classification, so his only focus will be drinking champagne - a traditional task for the Yellow Jersey holder on the final day - whilst contemplating the number of times he will be called up to the final podium.

The action really begins when the peloton hits the Champs-Elysees, where riders complete eight circuits up-and-down, starting from around 5.10pm (BST).

There will be breakaway attempts, but with this stage being an annual, unofficial sprinters' world championships, they are unlikely to be successful: the sprint trains won't let anyone get more than a few seconds' advantage.

Who are the favourites?

Deceuninck-Quick-Step will be especially alert, knowing that they have a better-than-evens chance of delivering Mark Cavendish his fifth stage win of this Tour. Cavendish is around 1.738/11, and given his dominance so far, even those short odds look attractive.

It's likely that Wout Van Aert (7.006/1) and Jasper Philipsen (8.007/1) will pose the biggest risk to Cavendish's task of breaking Eddy Merckx's record of Tour stage wins. Van Aert dominated the time trial on Stage 20, is in sparkling form, and was second to Cavendish on Stage10. Philipsen meanwhile has podiumed on five stages, denied by Cavendish on four of them.

It's hard to look beyond these three and, to be honest, it's hard to look beyond Cavendish: assuming he retains his form, with a clear run he should win this.

Who are the most likely outsiders?

Mads Pedersen (20.0019/1) could cause an upset. After all, he finished second on the Champs-Elysees in 2020 behind Sam Bennett, but he seems to be a rider who needs everything to fall perfectly for him to engineer a win, and it's likely to be just too chaotic for him.

Cees Bol (30.0029/1) cannot be discounted entirely, but he's finished no closer than sixth in the Tour this year and was quickly shuffled backwards on this stage last year.

What effect will it have on the overall markets?

None. The Points Classification is theoretically alive, but Mark Cavendish only needs to roll over the intermediate sprint somewhere near the front of the peloton to secure that competition. He's 1.021/50 to be wearing the Green Jersey on the podium.

*Odds correct at the time of writing

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