The last stage of any Tour de France follows more or less the same script and for the past two years the script has been this; A play in six acts:
- Much faffing about drinking champagne and having photos taken.
- Gentle ride to the centre of Paris, gradually picking up the pace as the race approaches the Champs-Élysées
- The Yellow Jersey’s team lead the race onto the Champs-Élysées
- A break of about half a dozen riders gets about 30 seconds to a minute
- HTC and/or the other sprinters teams decide to stop faffing and set about closing down the break
- Mark Cavendish wins the stage
It seemed likely that the script would be followed again, because if Cavendish won the stage he would win the Green Jersey.
Stage 21 was a 95.5 km trip from Créteil to Les Champs-Élysées.
This is slightly shorter than normal for the final stage. The reason for the start in Créteil was to honour the memory of Laurent Fingion who died last year aged 50. He originally came from that area of Paris.
The first four acts of the script played out without a hitch. The fifth act, closing the break down, took a bit longer than normal. The peleton caught the break on the last lap and Mark Cavendish and his HTC team played the final act to perfection. Cadel Evans finished safely in the peleton to become the oldest winner of the Tour since the Second World War, and of course the first ever winner from the Southern Hemisphere.
I was slightly disappointed that Rojas didn’t make much of an attempt to win the stage. Still I suppose that to take the Green Jersey from Cavendish he would have had to win the stage and “Cav” finish no better than fifth. That was never going to happen. If Cavendish is beaten he often sits up and loses eight or ten places in the process, but that would not have happened today. So Mark Cavendish brings the first ever Green Jersey back to the United Kingdom, although he probably thinks that it belongs to the Isle of Man.
|Yellow Jersey (Overall Winner)||Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team|
|Green Jersey (Points Winner)||Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad|
|Polka dot Jersey (Mountains)||Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi|
|White Jersey (Young Rider)||Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar|
|Team Competition||Team Garmin – Cervelo|
|Combativity Prize||Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ|
After a slow start, including a chaotic, crash strewn first week, this years tour built up to be one of the best that I can remember with a worthy winner. Cadel Evans always, right from the first stage looked as if he had brought his best form and a willingness to race to the tour. All through the race he looked the strongest rider, not by much, but definitely the strongest.
The best stage though was not won by him. Stage 18 from Pinerolo to the Col du Galibier was memorable for Andy Schleck’s old school attack from 60km out, Cadel Evans brilliant ride up the Galibier to limit his losses and another defiant ride by Thomas Voeckler to (just) hold on to the Yellow Jersey. It wasn’t where Evans won the Tour, but it made sure that he didn’t lose it.
I’ll conclude my thoughts on The Tour tomorrow, when I look at who had a good Tour and who had a bad Tour and who might as well not have bothered turning up.