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Monday, July 22, 2024
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Tour de France Forced to Navigate the Paris Olympics, Too

  • Since 1975, the race has finished along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
  • This year, the Paris Olympics have taken over the iconic street.
Herman Seidl/GEPA via USA TODAY Sports

Monday marks the first of two rest days for professional cyclists competing in the Tour de France, which has completed nine of its 21 stages. 

As the 173 remaining riders transition from Troyes to Orléans, where the action will pick back up Tuesday, the Tour de France is about 75 miles outside of Paris. That’s the closest it will get to the French capital in an unprecedented departure from tradition this year. For the first time in the history of the race, it won’t finish in Paris.

Due to the Paris Olympics, which begin on July 26, five days after the Tour de France ends on July 21, race organizers had to drastically alter the 2,173-mile route this year. Since 1975, the photo finish has come along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, where city tourists routinely gather around the Arc de Triomphe and shop at luxury boutiques.

But right now, the famous street is at the heart of Olympic operations: Five competition venues, including 3×3 basketball and beach volleyball, are within walking distance of the Champs-Élysées. Additionally, the official fan store of the Paris Olympics, which has more than 3,000 square feet of retail space, was constructed on the street. It opened to the public at the end of June.

So, this month, the final stage of the Tour de France will be a nearly 21-mile sprint from Monaco to Nice. That’s 50 miles fewer than last year’s final stage from Saint Quentin into Paris. While the change could make fans in France and viewers at home less excited about the finish, it will provide NBC Sports a nice opportunity to drum up interest in the soon-to-start Olympics, as it has the U.S. media rights for both events.

Year of Change

The conclusion of the Tour de France wasn’t the only big change made this year, though. Also for the first time, the race began in Italy. The city of Florence paid roughly $3.25 million for the coveted Grand Depart, which kickstarted three stages in France’s neighbor to begin the event.

Riders, which are split among 22 teams, are competing for almost $2.5 million in prize money. The individual winner will take home nearly $540,000 alone.

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