Jonas Vingegaard set his sights on further domination after securing his second successive Tour de France crown while Jordi Meeus won the final stage in a photo finish on the Champs-Elysees.
Vingegaard’s defence of his title was all but assured after Wednesday’s stage over the Col de la Loze, and he celebrated arm-in-arm with his Jumbo-Visma team-mates as they crossed the line together in the French capital.
As the Paris finale came down to the customary sprint finish, all eyes were on Jasper Philipsen, winner of four stages in this Tour, and Dylan Groenewegen on the right-hand side of the road as they bounded over the cobbles, but it was Meeus who shot down the left to nick it with a bike throw.
Vingegaard, who took yellow on stage six, won with a final margin of seven minutes and 29 seconds over 2020 and 2021 champion Tadej Pogacar, but his lead had been just 10 seconds on Monday’s rest day.
Only eight men have won three or more Tour titles, but the 26-year-old Dane is already looking towards the opportunity to join them next summer.
“I’m proud and happy of course,” Vingegaard said. “We’re winning it for a second time and it’s really amazing…I have to say thank you not only to my team but my family and all of Denmark, they supported me and I’m really grateful for this.
“It’s been a long journey but it went by so fast. We raced every day. It’s been a super good fight between me and Tadej and I really enjoyed it all the way. Of course I hope to come back next year to see if I can take a third win or at least try. That will be the plan.”
Vingegaard also revealed he plans no more than a week off before turning his attention to the Vuelta a Espana, where Jumbo-Visma will pair him with Giro d’Italia winner and three-time Vuelta champion Primoz Roglic as the team seeks a first-ever clean sweep of the Grand Tours.
Britain’s Adam Yates joined Vingegaard and Pogacar on the podium in Paris after securing third place, his career-best result in a Grand Tour.
Meeus, making his Tour debut, could not immediately celebrate his stage win, looking around at his rivals as he asked if any of them could say for sure who finished first.
But when the result was confirmed, the Belgian celebrated wildly with his Bora-Hansgrohe team-mates.
“I knew from the previous sprints that more was possible than the results I showed so far and today everything went perfectly and I’m super happy to finish it off,” he said.
“I felt good all day…and from the moment we went full gas my legs felt incredibly good. Marco Haller did a perfect job with positioning, I had the wheel of (Mads) Pedersen and then I could just come out of his slipstream and catch it on the line.
“It’s my first Tour, it was a super nice experience already so far and to take the win today is an indescribable feeling.”
Before the Paris sprint there was the usual procession into town, although not one that will be seen next July when preparations for the Olympic Games will force the race to finish in Nice, where there will be an individual time trial.
In a nod to that, this stage began at the Olympic velodrome in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines before the clinking of champagne glasses and the rolling photoshoots began on the road into the city centre.
Mark Cavendish was not around to contest the sprint, having crashed out of what was due to be his final Tour with a broken collarbone on stage eight.
That denied the 38-year-old the opportunity to win a record-breaking 35th career stage, but his Astana-Qazaqstan general mananger Alexander Vinokourov said he planned to meet the Manxman in Paris and discuss a possible contract extension into 2024.