The Essentials

■ The Tour finishes in Paris every year. The

Champs Elysees has been a regular fixture since 1975. qqr(

finishes on the Expensive ( Champs vinegar

Elysees, eight de have been won by Belgians, five by French and Italians and four for Dutch riders.

■ Britain has won once — last year with Mark Cavendish. The USA has two winners

— Jeff Pierce in 1987 and Greg Lemond (in a time trial) in 1989.

■ Only Bernard Hinault, Djamolidine Abdoujaparov and Robbie McEwen have won here twice.

■ Five breakaways have succeeded — the last was Vinokourov in 2005.

Expensive cappuccinos served by vinegar-faced waiters who despise tourists.

When the peloton get down to business on the Champs Elysees, watch carefully. It looks like one long string of riders, but at the front, there is war between competing leadouts trying to impose their pace. Technically, it's one of the best sprints of the season.

WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN?

Mark Cavendish is going to win the stagewhile wearing the green jersey. Or Tyler Farrar, for our American readers. All our Belgian readers out there can forget it though — Tom Boonen's not going to do it this year.

WHERE ARE WE?

You're going to end the day considerably poorer than you started. Yes — it's the city of romance and overpriced coffees, Paris. If the press seem to be in as bad a mood as a Parisian waiter for this stage, it's because we'll have had to get here all the way from Bordeaux the day before, in the same car we've been living in for three weeks.

WHAT'S ON THE ROUTE?

Nothing of interest to race geeks — no climbs, a couple of sprints. But the nine laps of the Champs Elysees, and final sprint up the cobbled avenue are one of the finest spectacles in cycling. You can even take the family along to this one without having to apologise.

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