What a spectacle, what a fantastic finish to an amazing tour! I wondered at first if I was just overwhelmed by the excitement because it is so long since I followed one this closely, but no, it was truly a brilliantly organised tour delivering suspense till the last day.
Mark Cavendish finished as perfectly as he could have wished this afternoon with a third straight victory on the Champs Elysées and the green jersey safely on his back.
In one burst that saw off Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen, Cavendish has become Britain’s first winner of the points jersey, as well as the first sprinter to win three times on the Champs Elysées. As if that were not
enough, his victory was also his 20th in the Tour de France, making him
the equal-sixth most prolific stage winner in the history of the race – at 26, it is a truly exceptional achievement, what a legend!
“I’ve been trying to get this for the last few years and it’s a super, super emotional day,” Cavendish said afterward. “I’ll keep coming back as long as my legs can keep coming back and I’ll keep trying to win as long as my legs can keep trying to win.”
When overall winner Cadel Evans stepped up to claim Australia’s first victory, it ended one of the longest quests for the yellow jersey that modern cycling has seen.
Tipped for greatness when he took the Tour of Italy lead in 2002 and held it until nine kilometres to go on the last mountain stage, Evans then had a decade-long series of misses that left him labelled as cycling’s nearly man.
The 2011 Tour though has been a different story altogether, Evans dodged the plentiful crashes that took out too many other contenders, and equally importantly played a perfect tactical game, hovering somewhere in contention without ever looking too threatening. Evans always reckoned, as he said on Saturday, on doing a strong final time trial, and his gamble came good as he ousted Shleck from yellow.
Cadel Evans, in a Shleck sandwich!
I can’t wait till next year! I think I’m going to pay close attention to the Tour of Britain in September as well! In all the time I’ve been writing this blog, I don’t think I’ve ever posted so much content in such a short amount of time! It feels good!