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The winner of the first Tour de France in 1903, Maurice Garin, would have had time to stop during the final stage, sit down for a meal of steak and cognac, put his feet up for a muddy post-prandial coffee, get back on his bike, ride to the finish and still win by a long way. His final margin of victory was two hours, 59 minutes. These days, the winner of a grand tour is more likely to be seconds ahead of his rivals, let alone minutes or hours. The last time a gap of more than an hour separated first from second in a grand tour was in the the 1927 Tour de France; the last 10-minute beating was in the 1984 Tour. And in the last decade, only two grand tours have been won by more than five minutes come the final day: Vincenzo Nibali’s 2014 Tour and Alberto Contador’s 2011 Giro. (And Contador was later stripped of that win for a previous doping offence.)

From the perspective of early 2021,

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