Tag Archives: Tour de France 2012

Bradley Wiggins: A champion we can believe in

Bradley Wiggins is a man of the people and a champion we can at last completely believe in

What would you be doing today? The day after you have just won the Tour de France? I know where I’d be and it would result in a nasty headache in a few days time. But not Bradley Wiggins. “I’ll just go on my usual loops and it will be nice to ride along with a bit of peace and quiet, enjoying riding the bike without all these bloody idiots on motorbikes taking photos of you!” said the new Tour de France champion.

To be fair to him, he would probably be doing the same as me if it wasn’t for the Olympic Games next week and his continued preparation to add a Gold medal in the time-trial to his recent Tour victory, and if that happens then you can really expect the celebrations to begin. But it’s the kind of answer that he provides that makes him different from the rest.

99 out of 100 athletes would not refer to the following media as “these bloody idiots on motorbikes” even if it was a little joke followed by a good laugh. Wiggins has vowed that his Tour win won’t change him and unlike many others, you actually believe him. He’s the down-to-earth, bog-standard, lets-go-for-a-pint, every day Brit who you would find in a lot of people in your local cycling club with the only difference being that Wiggins happens to be very good at bike riding by comparison to the rest of us.

Winning the Tour de France was a dream come true for Wiggins. He told us this weekend how he had posters of Miguel Indurain on his wall and wrote in his column for The Guardian about his first visit to the Tour in 1993.

There is a set of railings, about six or eight of them, just before the entrance to the Place de la Concorde, about a kilometre from the Tour de France finish on the Champs-Élysées. I stood on those railings with my brother and my mum on 25 July 1993 watching the Tour de France go past.

It all went by in a flash, but I spotted Miguel Indurain in the yellow jersey — about to win his third Tour in a row — and Gianni Bugno in the rainbow jersey of world champion.

It was my first sight of the Tour. We’d come over from London for the weekend, gone up the Eiffel Tower the day before, then watched the Tour come into town on the Sunday. I remember thinking how big it was, how huge it was, seeing the riders whizzing past. I never imagined that 19 years later I’d be coming down there in the same position as Indurain.

It sounds cliched, but it’s the stuff of childhood dreams really. It’s what I’ve dreamed of for 20 years but I never dreamed it could become reality.

“To be in this position now and emulating some of my heroes, like Miguel Indurain… it’s amazing,” he would say yesterday. “In England it’s (all about) football and every kid’s dream is to lift the FA Cup at Wembley. This is my Wembley. That is what it means to me.”

Indeed, it was an unlikely rise for a kid who grew up in London at a time that cycling wasn’t on the radar whatsoever. “Kids from Kilburn don’t become favourites for the Tour, you either become a postman, a milkman or you’re working at (bookmakers) Ladbrokes,” he said when talking about his youth. Yet Wiggins, whose abscent father was a cyclist, fell in love with the sport when he seen Chris Boardman on a Velodrome in the early 90’s and decided he wanted to give that a go.

By 1998 he was a Junior pursuit champion of the World on the track and by 2000 he was at the Olympics winning a Bronze medal aged just 20. His rise was meteoric. At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, he became the first British athlete in 40 years to win three medals at the one games with a Gold in the pursuit, silver in the team pursuit, and bronze in the madison.

In 2006 he took a crack at the Tour de France, if only to help with his long-term training for the track. He found it hard but he suffered over the mountains and finished the race, but just when he felt like celebrating the achievement, that years winner Floyd Landis tested positive for drugs. Wiggins, a man who had always steered clear of that side of the sport, was furious telling reporters how Landis could have put him, and others, at the back of the race outside the time-limit because he was on drugs and that this was playing with their potential for future contracts and therefore, their very livelihoods.

In his autobiography, “In Persuit Of Glory” he addressed the memory again. “I felt physically sick when I heard the news. My first reaction was purely selfish and related only to me. ‘You bastard Landis,’ I thought. ‘You have completely ruined my own small achievement of getting around the Tour de France and being a small part of cycling history. You and guys like you are pissing on my sport and my dreams. Why do guys like you keep cheating? How many of you are out there, taking the piss and getting away with it? Sod you all. You are a bunch of cheating bastards and I hope one day they catch the lot of you and ban you all for life. You can keep doing it your way and I will keep doing it mine. You won’t ever change me, you sods. Bollocks to all of you. At least I can look myself in the mirror.”

It was exactly the thoughts of fans everywhere and for the first time we had heard it so passionately from a rider himself.

He came back the following year, but once again had his hard work thrown back in his face and this time from someone much closer to home. His own team-mate at Cofidis, Cristian Moreni, tested positive for drugs and after stage 17 Wiggins had his bags searched by French police as the entire team withdrew from the Tour. An emotional Wiggins stormed home from the race and claimed at the time that he was finished with it. He dumped his team kit in a bin at the airport and for a long time it looked like he might walk away from the sport.

Then came a contract with the High Road team, a team dedicated to clean cycling and at last Wiggins found a place for himself. The track was still his go-to event however and it took him to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing where, by now a six time World Champion on the track between the years of 2003 and 2008, he won two Gold Medals to increase his career haul of Gold’s to three.

After that Wiggins, on the advice from some that if he dedicated himself to it and changed his style and training approach could win the Tour, left the track scene behind. He turned up at the 2009 Tour a lot leaner and ready for the demands of the mountains. He rode a superb race failing onto to stay with the likes of Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, and Lance Armstrong, which says a lot in itself given recent revelations, but joined Britain’s Robert Millar as the highest finisher ever by a Briton at the Tour de France.

In 2010 he moved to Sky, the new British run team to head up their charge for glory and the belief that within five years they could not just win stages in the Tour, but win the Tour itself. It seemed unthinkable and completely unrealistic, and the pressure caught up with Wiggins when he finished 24th in that years Tour. Bad luck then played its part in 2011 when Wiggins crashed out when many believed he could have contended for a podium place and he proved such expectations right, as well as those of the team and that five-year-plan, by finishing third in that years Vuelta.

In 2012 Wiggins zeroed in on his goal and went all tunnel vision on us. He locked himself away in remote training locations building himself entirely for a real run at the Tour de France. With guys like Landis, who had destroyed his dreams in 2006, long gone and the sport taking a turn for the better, Wiggins at last looked like he could prove that a clean cyclist could win the Tour. He showed up from his training camps only long enough to win whatever race he entered, from the Paris-Nice to the Tour de Romandie, to the Critérium du Dauphiné. Nobody had ever won all three in one year and it earmarked him as the Tour favorite.

The rest as we know is history. He pulled on the Yellow jersey after stage seven and defended it all the way to Paris doing what no other British rider had done before. He may not have rode into Paris having achieved the Yellow jersey with the kind of style and flamboyance that riders such as Marco Pantani, Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis and Alberto Contador had, but then again, I’m bloody glad he didn’t.

It’s knowing that he wasn’t doing it that way that probably caused him to explode at the press conference after stage eight when asked what he thought about those who wondered whether the Tour could be won clean? “Honestly, they’re just f**king w**kers,” he roared. “I cannot be dealing with people like that. It justifies their own bone-idleness because they can’t ever imagine applying themselves to anything in their lives. And it’s easy for them to sit under a pseudo-name on Twitter and write that sort of s**t rather than get off their arses in their own life and apply themselves, and work hard at something and achieve something. And that’s ultimately it.”

Unfortunately such questions were a burden he was always going to have to endure as leader of the Tour de France, as Cadel Evans did the year before, thanks in no small part to the likes of that “bastard Landis”. When he realised it was a missed opportunity to once again prove his anti-doping stance and that he had reacted in his press-conference out of frustration and in the heat of the moment having just finished a stage, he took to his column in The Guardian once again to remind everyone of where he stood with the same kind of passion that has made him like one of the fans:

The things I’ve said in the past, such as at the start of the 2006 Tour when I turned up for a first go at the race and Operación Puerto kicked off, what I said when Floyd Landis went positive, and what I said when I was chucked out with Cofidis after Cristian Moreni tested positive in 2007.

On the way home after that, I put my Cofidis kit in a dustbin at Pau airport because I didn’t want to be seen in it, and swore I would never race in it again, because I was so sick at what had happened. Those things I said then stand true today. Nothing has changed. I still feel those emotions and I stand by those statements now.

He then wrote of how his family came before the potential gains from cheating.

Doping would simply be not worth it. This is only sport we are talking about. Sport does not mean more to me than all those other things I have. Winning the Tour de France at any cost is not worth the possibility of losing all that.

Wiggins proved it could be done his way and it could be done without stooping to dirty levels. Wiggins proved that someone could come from being a short-track specialist to Tour de France winner — the equivalent of going from an Olympic champion in the 200 meters, 400 meters and 2×400 meters to an Olympic champion in the marathon within four years. Wiggins proved that a kid from Kilburn could become a Tour favorite. Wiggins proved the Sky goal that they could win a Tour within five years was indeed inaccurate … they did it in three.

Don’t expect Wiggins to become a high flying celebrity now. Don’t expect him to change. He has said it won’t change him, but he understands his new roll will make him a poster pin up for young kids just as Indurain was for him. But don’t expect him to be different in front of a microphone as a result.

The Bradley Wiggins tomorrow will be the same as the one who slogged his way through the 2006 Tour and the one who dreamed of winning the Tour years before when he first started racing. “I love cycling. I’ll always be riding my bike,” he said yesterday. “I’ll probably be there in 20 years time marshalling on the corner somewhere for a local ’10’.

And what of the future? Well, he said it’s all about Gold in the Olympics now but has said little about thereafter except what he hopes his achievements can do.

“Hopefully someone will see this and go, ‘I want to be like Brad Wiggins, I want to go and ride my local time trial.’ It’s nice because you are actually doing something through your life that is inspirational.”

And that’s good for the future of cycling.

 

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You call it dull … I’ll call it clean … Wiggin’s says it’s "More human now"

The days of wildly entertaining rides like those by Marco Pantani are a thing of the past, but surely that’s actually a good thing?

“Someone is going to have to sustain 500 watts over 20 minutes of a climb to stay away which is not possible anymore unless you’ve got a couple of extra litres of blood. That’s the reality of it. It really is.”

— Bradley Wiggins

It was the early evening of Saturday July 19, 1997 and Marco Pantani had just crossed the finishing line at the top of Alp d’Huez having gone up the fabled mountain of 21 switchbacks faster than anyone before, or since. It was a phenomenal sight, at an average speed of 14.3 mph, and the Italian mountain goat who could defy, as the band Queen would sing, the laws of gravity, was the toast of the Tour. A year later he would become the first pure climber since Lucien van Impe in 1976 to win the Tour de France but by February 2004, he would be dead.

Lance Armstrong thrilled millions with his punchy style, his speed in the time-trial and his ability to destroy everyone in the mountains after overcoming Cancer. We’d watch in awe as the ever thinning group of race favorites — a collection of men who would almost all end up in some doping scandal or another — rode entirely on the rivet, putting out the kind of wattage that could light up a small town for a week, only to then see Armstrong look Jan Ullrich in the eye, and take off up the mountain and out of sight.

In 2006, Floyd Landis overcame a horrendus day in the mountains to blow what seemed to be any chance he had of winning the Tour, only to come back a day later and go on a long solo attack of historic proportions putting minutes into his rivals and putting himself right back into the battle for the Tour.

Then came Alberto Contador. A young Spaniard who appeared to be a cross between Armstrong himself and the, by now deceased, Marco Pantani. He could dance on the pedals and he looked set to dominate grand tours for a decade to come. No longer had Armstrong left us (and returned for a swan song) than we were talking of someone breaking his records. A group of contenders could do nothing when Contador dropped it a few gears and danced off up the hill, sitting for a brief moment before kicking again and doing so all the way to the top.

The praise for this, like the praise for Pantani’s climbing, Landis’ solo ride, and Armstrong’s dominance before it, was at it’s moment, almost universal. For the most part it was entertaining and dramatic, and it was the mountains of the Tour de France and the battle for the Yellow jersey at it’s very best. The commentators roared, you watched those that couldn’t hack the pace suffer off the back, the crowds yelled, and you found yourself very quickly on the edge of your seat.

Yet at the same time we all hated the drugging aspect that had become such a part of the sports culture. In hindsight we hated what Pantani had done to achieve such rides as that one up Alp d’Huez, and we cheered when the authorities started to go after Armstrong once his former team-mates began to speak out. We hated having to defend the potential of the sport to our non-cycling fan friends, convincing them that the positive doping tests only existed because they tested more than any other sport and they were prepared to bloody their noses in order to get clean. We believed the sport could get clean, would get clean, was on it’s way to being clean, yet we believed that the great battles of yesteryear would continue to enthrall us.

But there in lies the problem.

I heard a lot of people tell me they thought large parts of the 2012 edition of the Tour de France was boring; that Sky controlled the race too much and that nobody attacked. Nobody did a Pantani, an Armstrong, a Landis or a Contador and went for it, putting everything on the line. Why didn’t they?

They couldn’t. Sky kept the tempo so high that anytime anyone tried to attack them, they couldn’t maintain the speed required to get clear. It was a simple tactic, though simple only if you have the strongest rider in the race. In Sky’s case they had the two strongest and that was that. Had Chris Froome who was often seen waiting for Wiggins been on a different team then we might have seen a little more drama, but even then, it’s unlikely Froome could have rode away with the pace he generated for the first fifty meters or so.

“I think the Tour is a lot more human now,” said Wiggins himself this week when asked about people saying it was a dull race. “If people want to see incredible 220km lone breaks in the mountains, well maybe that’s not realistic anymore, as wonderful and as magical as they were to watch. I remember in the 90s watching people like Virenque, but maybe the sport’s changed now.”

Indeed it has. Last year’s trip up Alp d’Huez seen average times of the top GC contenders coming in four or more minutes behind those times set by Pantani 14 years before. How rare it is to see the barrier of sporting achievement dipping backwards so much when in so many sports the ‘modern day athlete’ with modern day equipment and modern day training, tend to push new boundaries. The explanation is simple.

We cannot have clean cycling and the old style of attacks at the same time. It’s one or the other. We either move forward in the understanding that the riders of today and tomorrow are a little more human and unable to rip a course to pieces as they once might have, or turn back the clock and bury our heads in the sand. The last time a major doping scandal hit the Tour, however, everyone was still up in arms proving to me, the majority still don’t want the cheaters involved.

How the British (and French) press broke the news of Wiggins’s victory

A look at the front pages of a number of Britain’s daily newspapers and how they were reacting to the news that one of their own, Bradley Wiggins, had just won the biggest bike race in the World for the first time. With the Olympic Games just days away, it’s one hell of a time to be a headline writer for the sports sections of a daily British paper and an even better time to be a cycling fan…

Daily Mail:

The Guardian:

The Daily Telegraph:

Daily Express:

The Independent:

The Independent brief:

The Daily Star:

***

L’Equipe:

Proof that you probably shouldn’t bet on my advice

Before the tour began I laid down my predictions for the top ten overall as well as the top three in the points and mountains classifications. To say I was quite wide of the remark with regards to some picks would be an understatement though to be fair you can never predict crashes that might suddenly eliminate a contender. Perhaps the closest I got, aside from picking Jurgen Van Den Broeck correctly in forth, was picking Wiggins in second, one place below where he finished. Why did I ever doubt you Brad? The following is a look at where my picks ended up finishing along with the actual stage winners by comparison to my questionable picks in the stage previews.

Overall
1. Cadel Evans — Finished 7th
2. Brad Wiggins — Finished 1st
3. Ryder Hesjedal — Abandoned after stage 7
4. Jurgen Van Den Broeck — Correct
5. Dennis Menchov — Finished 15th
6. Samuel Sanchez — Abandoned at stage 8
7. Pierre Rolland — Finished 8th
8. Frank Schleck — Withdrew for doping after stage 16
9. Alejandro Valverde — Finished 20th
10. Tony Martin — Withdrew after stage 10

Points
1. Mark Cavendish — Finished 4th
2. Peter Sagan — Finished 1st
3. Philippe Gilbert — Finished 20th

Mountains
1.  Frank Schleck — Withdrew for doping after stage 16
2. Jurgen Van Den Broeck — Finished 17th
3. Samuel Sanchez — Abandoned at stage 8

Individual stage predictions
(My prediction (where he finished with time gap to stage winner) | Actual result)
Prologue:  Peter Sagan (53rd at 24 sec) | Frabian Cancellara
Stage 1:  Edvald Boasson Hagen (3rd at st.) | Peter Sagan
Stage 2:  Peter Sagan (6th at st.) | Mark Cavendish
Stage 3:  Philippe Gilbert (168th at 7-46) | Peter Sagan
Stage 4:  Mark Cavendish (188th at 4-19) | André Greipel
Stage 5:  Mark Cavendish (5th at st.) | André Greipel
Stage 6:  Mark Cavendish (123rd at 6-02) | Peter Sagan
Stage 7:  Samuel Sanchez (16th at 1-31) | Chris Froome
Stage 8:  Edvald Boasson Hagen (77th at 10-17) | Thibaut Pinot
Stage 9:  Fabian Cancellara (3rd at 57 sec) | Bradley Wiggins
Stage 10:  Alejandro Valverde (17th at 3-16) | Thomas Voeckler
Stage 11:  Cadel Evans (11th at 2-23) | Pierre Rolland
Stage 12:  George Hincapie (57th at 8-54) | David Millar
Stage 13:  Peter Sagan (2nd at st.) | André Greipel
Stage 14:  Jérémy Roy (99th at 28-18) | Luis León Sánchez
Stage 15:  Mark Cavendish (82nd at 11-50) | Pierrick Fédrigo
Stage 16:  Dan Martin (7th at 6-08) | Thomas Voeckler
Stage 17:  Vincenzo Nibali (7th at 37 sec) | Alejandro Valverde
Stage 18:  Peter Sagan (3rd at st.) | Mark Cavendish
Stage 19:  Bradley Wiggins (Correct) | Bradley Wiggins
Stage 20:  Mark Cavendish (Correct) | Mark Cavendish
2 out of 21 (Thank goodness for those last two stages! And I hope you didn’t bet money off the back of my picks! Saying that, my pick did reach the top ten of the stage  on ten occasions).

Cav makes it 7 stage wins for Britain as Wiggins makes history

Rambouillet to Paris (Champs-Élysées), 120 km (74.6 mi)

Job done. Wiggins is on top of the cycling world as champion in Paris. Photograph: Getty Images

There was only ever going to be one winner today. In a warmup for the blast up The Mall on July 28, Mark Cavendish took the perfect lead out, including the rare sight of the Yellow jersey at the head of the peloton setting a ferocious pace that no rival team could move ahead of to take control with a kilometre to go, to swing out of the final corner, around his final lead out man of Edvald Boasson Hagen and clear to the line. It was a dominant victory, once again by several lengths, and from much further out that his rivals might have expected. As they were hoping to grab his wheel and come around him out of that final corner, they straightened up only to find Cavendish was already twenty yards up the most famous avenue in the World and heading for his forth straight victory in Paris.

Matt Goss was the only man who reacted to his sprint, but just when it looked Cavendish might have gone too early, the fastest man in the world moved clear finishing ahead of a late surging Peter Sagan who probably started his sprint at what would normally be considered the right time, but on this occasion proved to be too late.

Cavendish clearly loves this occasion. It’s the finish that every sprinter wants to win … the unofficial World Championship for sprinters, and fitting then that the man in the World Champions rainbow jersey took the win. That he struggles in the Gruppeto over the mountains day after day, Tour after Tour, even when out of contention for the Green jersey, just so he can have a shot at continuing his consecutive wins in this finest of sprinters stages says it all about his feelings and respect towards the Tour. It was something that past fast men such as Mario Cippolini could never force himself to do.

Four times Cavendish has won it on the Champs-Élysées now, more than anyone else and it was his 23rd career Tour de France stage victory and third in this years race. All in just 106 career Tour de France stages for a remarkable 22 percent strike rate, or better put; one in every five stages raced. Today’s victory seen Cavendish move ahead of André Darrigade — the all-time highest wins for a sprinter — and also ahead of Lance Armstrong. He now sits forth all time, 11 wins behind the great Eddy Merckx on 34 and at 27-years of age and only entering his prime, there’s every reason to believe that Cavendish stands a big chance of reaching the Belgian in the next three or four years.

Of course, I can’t go through all these stats without putting out a little praise for Merckx. The greatest cyclist of all-time hit his stage wins haul of 34 in just 7 Tours meaning that if Cavendish was to match that kind of ratio, he would need to win 11 stages next year. That is a little inaccurate however as Cavendish dropped out early on his first two Tours. Merckx raced in 185 Tour stages so to truly match his ratio, Cavendish has 79 stages to win 11 races which is four more Tours and at an average well below his current pace.

Crossing the line a hundred yards behind Cavendish was Wiggins in he Yellow jersey with his arms aloft. Not just for Cavendish’s win, but for his own triumph of becoming the first Briton to win the Tour. It was a remarkable achievement and it all hit home when he took to the podium with fellow Brit, Chris Froome on one side and Italian, Vincenzo Nibali on the other, with the British anthem belting out. It was something never before heard on the Champs-Élysées and something I never thought I’d see. Certainly not by the age of 30.

Wiggins took the microphone and kept it short, sweet, and as is typical of Wiggins and his British sense of humour, amusing.

“Right,” he began. “We’re just going to draw the raffle numbers.” He thanked everyone for his sport before remarking that, “Some dreams do come true. My old mum over there? Her son has just won the Tour de France!” He then signed off in a way that only Wiggo could: “Have a safe journey home and don’t get too drunk.”

He truly is the every man you find out on your club run, but who happens to be very very good. He’d be a great choice to go for a few pints with, though if the opportunity was there, you’d have to wait a while, for the traditional team party that usually accompanies finishing in Paris and winning the Tour will have to wait as Wiggins, Cavendish and the other British riders turn their attention to the Olympic Games. Wiggins will turn his attention from winning, conserving energy, and staying out of trouble, to looking after Cavendish, chasing down breaks and leading out the man from the Isle of Man into London and hopefully to Olympic glory.

Today the Champs-Élysées; next Saturday, The Mall.

***

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“It’s an incredible achievement for the team. Four years ago we said we were setting out to win the Tour, but we haven’t just done that, we’ve got second place as well and a handful of stages. Seven stages have been won by British guys this year so that’s one in three – not a bad stat.” — Mark Cavendish reveals the phenomenal fact that British riders have won 33 percent of the stages in this years Tour de France. Six of those went to Sky riders, one to Garmin’s David Millar. Roll on the Olympics.

***

FAKE TWEET OF THE DAY

@MarkCavendish Alright, whose up for another lap of France?

***

ABANDONMENT’S

Not a chance anyone was pulling out today. For those not after the stage win this was a club run into Paris and a chance to reflect on overcoming three brutal weeks of racing.

***

STAGE 20 RESULT

1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky in 3-08-07
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
3. Matt Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
4. Juan Jose Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
5. Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM
6. Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto-Belisol all at st.

FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION

1. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky in 87-34-47
2. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 3-21
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 6-19
4. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol at 10-15
5. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 11-04
6. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Radioshack-Nissan at 15-41
7. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 15-49
8. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar at 16-26
9. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana at 16-33
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-BigMat at 17-17
Others
12. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 19-33
35. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 1-25-23
94. Stephen Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing at 2-46-28
104. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp at 2-54-55
143. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky at 3-28-45

FINAL POINTS CLASSIFICATION

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale – 421 pts
2. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol – 280 pts
3. Matthew Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge – 268 pts

FINAL MOUNTAINS CLASSIFICATION

1. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar – 135 pts
2. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana – 123 pts
3. Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank – 77 pts

 

FINAL YOUNG RIDER CLASSIFICATION

1. Teejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 87-45-51
2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat at 6-13
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank at 1-05-48

FINAL TEAM CLASSIFICATION

1. RadioShack-Nissan in 263-12-14
2. Sky at 5-46
3. BMC Racing at 36-29

MOST COMBATITIVE RIDER CLASSIFICATION

1. Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank

***

THE RACE FOR THE LANTERNE ROUGE

Nothing serious changed today as yesterday’s time-trial proved the last opportunity for big time to be lost or indeed to be given up. Jimmy Engoulvent  held on for the win by the slenderest of margins beating Jan Ghyselinck by just 32 seconds. Sprinter, Engoulvent was tenth on today’s stage with Ghyselinck failing to seize the opportunity to drop off the back in the final kilometres, finishing 61st just 9 seconds back.

153. Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Cofidis in 91-32-23
151. Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 32 sec
152. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp at 2-51
150. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Orica GreenEdge at 7-24
149. Julien Fouchard (Fra) Cofidis at 15-05
148. Albert Timmer (Ned) Argos-Shimano at 16-59

A moment that will burn long into the memory

Bonneval to Chartres, 53.5 km (33.2 mi)

The moment Bradley Wiggins became the first British winner of the Tour de France and the greatest British athlete of all time. Photograph: AFP

The image above is one that will burn long into the memory. The moment that Bradley Wiggins all but cemented his victory to become the first British winner of the Tour de France. It was a ride to show those that felt the better man was finishing in second were wrong and the pride in that came spilling out as he crossed the line and punched the air.

After watching the mountain stages there were many out there that felt had Chris Froome been allowed off the leash by Team Sky that he would have won this Tour. They seen him accelerate away from Wiggins only to get the message on his race radio to wait up for the man in Yellow. People desperately wanted to see the excitement of a battle and had they been on separate teams we would have gotten it, but Sky had designated Wiggins as their leader from the start and he always had a solid time advantage over Froome that it made sense for Sky to control the race rather than risk both of them blowing up from trying to beat one another. No it’s not what you want to see ideally, but today it was proven why they did what they did in the mountains.

Wiggins took a 2-05 lead over Froome into the time trial, a lead those doubters felt that Froome could have overcome, but when he rolled down the ramp to begin what he does best, he ripped the course to shreds averaging a stunning 50 km/h hover the 53.5 kilometre course to not only win his second time-trail stage of the tour, but to dominate his rivals much like we once seen from the great Miguel Indurain.

Wiggins beat Froome by 1-16 putting himself an insurmountable 3-21 into Yellow. Even without Froome’s puncture in stage one from which he lost 1-25, Wiggins would still have been in Yellow by 1-56 and I highly doubt Froome would have been able to gain that much back in these mountains. You have to remember that Wiggins would have rode within himself knowing that Froome would wait for him and ride for him, but had Froome decided to go for it alone, breaking from team orders, I have little doubt Wiggins could have summoned more from himself and while it mightn’t have stopped him losing some time to Froome, the time lost would have been minimal.

And that isn’t to take anything away from Froome. The best climber in this Tour was still it’s second best time-trialist as he came second to Wiggins twice in-a-row against the clock. It wasn’t what the route planners expected when they put forward the route. Sure they thought a man like Wiggins would do what he did in the race of truth, but they thought the pure climbers would gain more time in the mountains and lose more in the time-trials making it a finely balanced race. As it turned out while Froome was the best in one department and second in the other, the opposite was true of Wiggins. He was the second best climber and by far it’s best time-trialist and when you had that much going for you on a route like this, it’s no shock the pair are riding into Paris first and second … the time gaps to the rest are huge now.

Bradley Wiggins today proved once and for all that the best man is on the verge of winning this Tour … all he must do now is stay upright for the gentle coast into Paris and several laps around the Champs-Élysées.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I’m determined to not let it change me. I’m not into celebrity life or all that rubbish. So much of British culture is built around people who are famous for doing nothing… I’m still Bradley Wiggins, at the end of the day, I have to go home and clean up dog muck and horse muck. At the end of the day, it’s just sport, there will be more Tour winners in the future.” — Bradley Wiggins on becoming the first Brit to win the Tour.

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FAKE TWEET OF THE DAY

@ChrisFroome Someone check for a hidden motor on that boys bike!

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ABANDONMENT’S

None. Obviously.

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STAGE 19 RESULT

1. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky in 1-04-13
2. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 1-16
3. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Rabobank at 1-50
4. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep at 2-02
5. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky at 2-25
6. Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Argos-Shimano at 2-28
7. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 2-34
8. Vasil Kiriyenka (Blr) Movistar at 2-46
9. Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis at 2-50
10. Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ-BigMat at 3-05
Others
16. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 3-38
26. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol at 4-22
41. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-BigMat at 5-31
42. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Radioshack-Nissan at 5-32
48. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana at 5-38
52. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 5-56
64. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar at 6-14
69. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp at 6-22
82. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Sky at 6-58
100. Steve Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing at 7-51

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 19

1. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky 
2. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 3-21
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 6-19
4. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol at 10-15
5. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 11-04
6. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Radioshack-Nissan at 15-43
7. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 15-51
8. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar at 16-31
9. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana at 16-38
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-BigMat at 17-17