Bradley Wiggins sealed a historic victory as he crossed the finishing line on the Champs Elysees to become the first ever British cyclist to win the Tour de France. Team Sky and British cycling achieved an extraordinary one-two on the podium as Chris Froome claimed 2nd place in the overall standings, trailing Wiggins by a gap of 3 minutes and 21 seconds.
The win was made all the more sweet for Team Sky as Wiggins played an instrumental role in the lead out for another Brit, World Champion Mark Cavendish, who romped home to his fourth successive stage win on the Champs Elysees. Cavendish’s prestigious victory, his 23rd in the Tour de France, puts the Manxman in 4th place on the list of accumulated stage wins in the history of the Tour, overtaking Lance Armstrong and the legendary sprinter Andre Darrigade in the process.
Today’s victory reflects the authority that Team Sky asserted on this year’s tour. Mark Cavendish, the greatest sprinter in the history of the Tour de France, proved to be unstoppable in his three stage victories when afforded a committed lead-out train for the sprint finishes, whilst the duo of Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins were marshalled superbly by their team-mates in the high mountains as they serenely carved out a gap of 6 minutes and 19 seconds to their nearest rival Vincenzo Nibali over the three weeks of racing.
The ease in which Team Sky controlled the race in the mountains can be partly attributed to both the lack of form of 2011’s defending champion Cadel Evans and injuries to yellow jersey contenders such as Ryder Hesjedal and Samuel Sanchez early in the tour. None however could doubt the cycling pedigree of Froome and Wiggins, who never looked seriously threatened by any of the other general classification riders throughout the race.
In another team Chris Froome may have well challenged for the tour outright as it became apparent that the Kenyan-born all rounder was climbing well within his own ability in order to prevent a gap appearing between himself and his team leader Wiggins during the Alpine and Pyrenean stages. Though in a tour with an emphasis on long time trials Team Sky were proved right in their decision to place Bradley Wiggins as their team leader, with the time trial specialist owing much of his 3 minutes and 21 seconds gap to Froome to his explosive stage wins in Besancon and Chartres.
Bradley Wiggins can now take his place as one of the most decorated British athletes of all time, with his momentous yellow jersey triumph adding to his two Criterium du Dauphine wins in 2011 and 2012, his 2012 Paris-Nice victory and his three Olympic gold medals in the team and individual pursuit. For Chris Froome the Tour of Spain awaits and the prospect of Froome leading Team Sky against the challenge of both Alberto Contador, who returns from his dubious doping ban, and Andy Schleck, who is on the recovery path from injury, is a prospect for cycling fans to savour.
The healthy distraction of the Olympics is next for Froome, Wiggins and Cavendish, who join fellow 2012 Tour de France stage winner David Millar and British road champion Ian Stannard in a bid for gold on the Mall next Saturday.
- Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Team Sky: 87h 34’47”
- Chris Froome (GBR) Team Sky: + 3’21”
- Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Liquigas: + 6’19”
Young Riders Classification:
- Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC: 87h 45’ 46”
- Thibaut Pinot (FRA) FDJ: + 6’13”
- Steven Kruijswijk (NED) Rabobank: + 1h 05’48”
- Peter Sagan (SVK) Liquigas: 421 pts
- Andre Greipel (GER) Lotto-Belisol: 280 pts
- Matthew Goss (AUS) Orica-Green Edge: 268 pts
- Thomas Voeckler (FRA) Europcar: 135 pts
- Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE) Astana: 123 pts
- Chris Anker Sorensen (DEN) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff: 77 pts
1. Team Radioshack-Nissan: 263h 12’ 01”
Chris Anker Sorensen (DEN) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff
[image credit: telegraph.co.uk]