Tour de France Stage 21: Third-time-lucky jersey joy for Cadel and Cav

Most thrilling edition in decades concludes with Evans in yellow, Cavendish in green

by Simon_MacMichael   July 24, 2011  

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Cadel Evans and Mark Cavendish, each twice runners-up in, respectively, the Tour de France general and points classifications, this afternoon secured the jerseys they most coveted as a thrilling 98th edition of the race came to an end in Paris. By winning on the Champs-Elysees for an unprecedented third time in a row, Cavendish secured the green jersey he so narrowly missed out on to Alessandro Petacchi last year and Thor Hushovd in 2009, while Evans, second in 2007 and 2008, finally got to stand on the top step of the podium.

HTC-Highroad's Cavendish becomes only the second British rider to win a jersey of any description in the Tour de France, joining Robert Millar, winner of the mountains competition in 1984. Other Australians have clinched jerseys at the Tour – Robbie McEwen and Baden Cooke have both one the points jersey – but BMC Racing's Evans is the first from anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere to have won the maillot jaune.

Last year, Cavendish’s usual leadout man Mark Renshaw, disqualified earlier in the race, was missing as the Manxman sprinted to his second consecutive win at the most famous finish line in cycling, but today, just as he had done in 2009, he was there to deliver him to the right place at the right time.

Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen was on Cavendish’s wheel coming into the last 200 metres, but there was never any doubt about who was going to win and the Norwegian finished second, with Omega Pharma Lotto’s Andre Greipel third.

Victory today took Cavendish’s haul from this year’s Tour de France to five stages, and he has now won 20 in the last four editions of the race. If his rate of success continues is on target to become the most successful rider ever in terms of stage wins within three years.

Before the start of today’s stage in the Parisian suburb of Creteil that produced the late Laurent Fignon, twice a winner of the race, the peloton doffed helmets to commemorate the victims of Friday’s tragic attacks in Norway, the country’s two representatives in the Tour, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Thor Hushovd, in the front row alongside those in the jerseys of the various classifications.

The silence of the riders struck a dignified and sombre tone before the riders rolled away from the start line, a stark contrast to RadioShack’s unsanctioned LiveStrong jersey publicity stunt 12 months ago that had delayed the beginning of the final stage of the 2010 Tour.

Maillot jaune Evans, mountains classification winner Samuel Sanchez of Euskaltel-Euskadi and Pierre Rolland of Europcar in the best young rider’s white jersey had of course already done enough to ensure that they could relax and enjoy the leisurely opening kilometres of a winding parcours through the southeastern suburbs of the French capital, but Mark Cavendish of course had unfinished business, his eyes not only on the stage win but also on defending the green jersey.

Missing the cut-off time on the Galibier on Thursday had seen the Manxman’s lead at the top of the points classification more than halved to 15 points after the jury applied the mandatory 20-point penalty. Luckily for Cavendish, when he finished just outside the time limit again on the Alpe d’Huez on Friday, the group he was in included his closest rival, Movistar’s Jose Joaquin Rojas.

With Evans, at 34 years of age the oldest winner of the Tour de France since Henri Pelissier in 1923, sipping the obligatory glass of Champagne at the front of the peloton, the pace remained sedate as the peloton followed a twisting and turning route lined with spectators.

Some 15 kilometres in, superstition led the maillot jaune-designate to change his custom yellow BMC bike for the red and black one he has ridden throughout this year’s race, although of course in line with convention, there was no attack from the Schleck brothers or anyone else for that matter, and it was a leisurely business for Evans to rejoin the peloton, rather than a desperate chase.

George Hincapie, the man who a decade ago was helping Lance Armstrong to overall victory, led BMC Racing onto the Champs Elysées for the first of the nine laps of the now traditional closing circuit, first used in 1975.

Team Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha was the first to try and launch and break, but with the peloton whipping along at speeds in excess of 50 kilometres an hour, the attack didn’t stick.

The next big move, towards the end of the second lap, was again launched by a Team Sky rider, Ben Swift, and this time it did get away, the Yorkshireman joined by super-combativity winner Jeremy Roy of FDJ, Lars Bak from HTC-Highroad, the RadioShack rider Sergio Paulinho, AG2R’s Christophe Riblon and Kristjan Koren from Liquigas-Cannondale, the latter picking up the maximum points on offer at the intermediate sprint on the third lap.

Behind, in the peloton, Cavendish got a great leadout from his HTC Highroad colleagues to pick up 9 points, Matt Goss also nipping in front of Rojas to deny the Spaniard an additional point.

The Manxman thus stretched his lead to 17 points, immediately stopping in front of the Arc de Triomphe to change his bike, presumably due to a technical problem, with Bernie Eisel quickly pacing him back to the bunch.

With two laps of the 6 kilometre closing circuit to come, the breakaway riders still had a lead of around 30 seconds, but with Lampre and Quick Step among the teams forcing the pace at the front of the peloton, that lead had been halved by the time they commenced the final lap.

Swift attacked again with a little over half a lap left, but was quickly caught and overtaken by Bak, given the green light to go for a solo win since it would have seen him claim maximum points and thereby deny them to Rojas, but he would be swept up ahead of the flamme rouge as the race came down to the almost inevitable bunch sprint.

Tour de France Stage 21 Result 
1  CAVENDISH Mark         HTC - HIGHROAD             2h 27' 02"
2  HAGEN Edvald Boasson   SKY PROCYCLING         All at same time
3  GREIPEL André          OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO
4  FARRAR Tyler           GARMIN - CERVELO
5  CANCELLARA Fabian      LEOPARD-TREK
6  OSS Daniel             LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE
7  BOZIC Borut            VACANSOLEIL-DCM
8  VAITKUS Tomas          ASTANA
9  CIOLEK Gerald          QUICK STEP
10 ENGOULVENT Jimmy       SAUR-SOJASUN
11 HINAULT Sébastien      AG2R LA MONDIALE
12 BOLE Grega             LAMPRE - ISD
13 RENSHAW Mark           HTC - HIGHROAD
14 FLECHA Juan Antonio    SKY PROCYCLING
15 VENTOSO Francisco      MOVISTAR
16 DUMOULIN Samuel        COFIDIS
17 IGNATYEV Mikhail       KATUSHA 
18 IGLINSKIY Maxim        ASTANA
19 PETACCHI Alessandro    LAMPRE - ISD
20 TURGOT Sébastien       EUROPCAR

Tour de France Final Overall Standings 
1  EVANS Cadel            BMC RACING                86h 12' 22"
2  SCHLECK Andy           LEOPARD-TREK                + 01' 34"
3  SCHLECK Frank          LEOPARD-TREK                + 02' 30"
4  VOECKLER Thomas        EUROPCAR                    + 03' 20"
5  CONTADOR Alberto       SAXO BANK SUNGARD           + 03' 57"
6  SANCHEZ Samuel         EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI         + 04' 55"
7  CUNEGO Damiano         LAMPRE - ISD                + 06' 05"
8  BASSO Ivan             LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE         + 07' 23"
9  DANIELSON Tom	  GARMIN - CERVELO	      + 08' 15"
10 PERAUD Jean-Christophe AG2R LA MONDIALE	      + 10' 11"

1 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Fantastic job by the awe-inspiring HTC train!

Well done Cav. Big Grin

Ooooh, me legs...

posted by Oh heck... [47 posts]
24th July 2011 - 21:09

2 Likes