A third-place podium for the Belgian as he helps animate a thrilling final race of the season
Jasper Stuyven ended the 2021 season with a big performance in Paris-Tours, sprinting to third place after a big chase with Arnaud Démare to catch two leaders in the final 500 meters.
The four exhausted riders eyed each other as they slowed for the first time in 212 kilometers. After a super-fast race that included dirt roads and steep climbs, it came down to who had legs left for the last 200 meters.
Démare jumped first, leading out the sprint. Stuyven looked good to slingshot around the French sprinter but could not find the last bit of speed he needed. However, it was enough for third – a well-deserved podium to end a grueling race and long season.
“At the end, I am happy to finish the season like this, with good legs and a good finale. Of course, I would love to go back and change all the near misses to victories, but it is what it is. I think with Milano-Sanremo in the pocket, and I was always there the whole season, for me that gives some satisfaction. Of course, I would like to win more, but it’s not that easy, but it’s nice to at least get the chance to fight for it.”
🏁 Après une superbe bagarre dans les chemins de vignes, un final à suspense. 🏆
⏪ Revivez le dernier kilomètre de ce #ParisTours. 🍇
— ParisTours (@ParisTours) October 10, 2021
As expected, the gravel roads and short steep climbs played out in classics-style and gave a thrilling ending to the French classic.
In the finale, the breakaway still held a threatening gap, and Stuyven capitalized on fantastic teamwork from Alex Kirsch and Edward Theuns. The two had missed the first split in the peloton but fought back again to help minimize the breakaway’s lead.
“The guys missed the first echelon of 34 riders that was not a good situation for us, and it was a bit of a gamble not to have more there when we hit the first [dirt] sectors. But it was nice to see they kept fighting and later did some work to put me in good position to go again. We managed well at the end; they made things right and did their best for me.”
On the last climb, Arnaud Démare attacked, and Stuyven was in a good position to follow.
Two riders still held a stubborn lead, and Démare and Stuyven, two fast finishers, had to go all-in to catch the pair.
The kilometers ticked down, but the gap held at 10-12 seconds. Finally, in the last half kilometer, the catch was made, and a sprint between four fatigued riders ensued.
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) October 10, 2021
In the last race of 2021, Jasper Stuyven once again gave a thrilling performance, playing for the win as he has done all season long.
“I look forward to having an off-season now and put the bike on the side,” he ended.