SAN DIEGO, July 22, 2012 – As the British themselves might say, Bradley Wiggins and his Sky Procycling teammates didn’t put a foot – or rather, a pedal stroke - wrong during the three weeks of the 2012 Tour de France.
Wiggins stepped onto the podium in Paris today as the first ever British winner of the Tour de France in 99 years. Alongside him was his British teammate Chris Froome, making it a one-two Sky/British finish. Italian rider Vicenzo Nibali of Liquigas-Cannondale placed a well-earned third.
Wiggins and Sky capped off their Tour by leading sprinter Mark Cavendish to the line for his fourth straight sprint finish victory on the Champs Elysees. Wiggins is no doubt the first leadout rider ever seen in Paris wearing the yellow jersey, an amazing sight. Wiggins threw his hands into the air at the finish line at Cavendish’s victory, taking as much pleasure in it as his own. Cavendish has now won 23 stages. With many years riding the Tour left, he can shoot for the all time record of 32 held by Eddy Merckx.
It was a more competitive ride into Paris than usual, with several riders including 40-year-old Jens Voigt trying to hold off the sprinters. The leading teams had to work hard to chase them down and give Cavendish and his rivals their chance.
In a gesture of respect and honor, American George Hincapie of BMC was escorted to the front of the peloton to lead the riders into Paris onto the Champs Elysees in recognition of finishing a record-setting 17th Tour de France.
Wiggins demolished the rest of the field, winning two time trials in spectacular fashion, riding well in the mountains, and staying safely away from the many crashes in the first week of the Tour, There is always more than a bit of luck involved in winning the Tour and luck was on the side of Wiggins and Sky.
The specialty jersey winners gave fans thrills as well through the three weeks of the Tour. Slovakian Peter Sagan of Liquigas-Cannondale was a revelation as he won the green sprinter’s jersey with the greatest margin since 1982. Fans can look forward to the 22-year-old’s creative victory salutes for many years. He also held his own in the mountains. Perhaps he will be a GC contender someday.
French fans cheered for their popular favorite Thomas Voeckler as he stepped onto the podium in Paris for the first time winning the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey, a tremendous result. Americans have much to celebrate too in young rider’s white jersey champion Tejay van Garderen, who said he plans to defend it again next year. Van Garderen was the highest placed American, finishing an admirable fifth overall.
It was hoped that 2011 Tour de France champion Cadel Evans would put up a greater challenge to Wiggins, but it simply wasn’t to be. He finished a most respectable seventh and exited with grace, riding for a stretch today with this year’s champion Wiggins.
Now many of the riders will head for London to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics. The British riders are looking for more glory, including Wiggins who already has two gold medals and current world champion Cavendish.
It is one of the greatest accomplishments in sports not just to win the Tour de France, but to survive the terrain, the crashes, the injuries, weather, fatigue, and tactics to simply finish the nearly 2,220 mile ride in three weeks. Congratulations to all 152 riders who will always be able to say that they finished the most prestigious cycling competition in the world.
As Wiggins himself said, “It’s the Tour man, it doesn’t get much bigger than this!”
The final stage results:
1. Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) Sky Procycling 3:08:07
2. Peter Sagan (Slovakia) Liquigas-Cannondale
3. Matthew Goss (Australia) Orica GreenEdge
4. Juan José Haedo (Argentina) Saxo Bank
5. Kris Boeckmans (Belgium) Vacansoleil-DCM
6. Greg Henderson (New Zealand) Lotto Belisol
7. Borut Bozic (Slovokia) Astana
8. André Greipel (Germany) Lotto Belisol
9. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) Sky Procycling
10. Jimmy Engoulvent (France) Saur - Sojasun
The ten leading finishers of the 2012 Tour de France:
1. Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) Sky Procycling 87:34:42
2. Christopher Froome (Great Britain) Sky Procycling 3:21
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Liquigas-Cannondale 6:19
4. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Belgium) Lotto Belisol Team 10:15
5. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC 11:04
6. Haimar Zubeldia (Spain) RadioShack-Nissan 15:43
7. Cadel Evans (Ausralia) BMC 15:51
8. Pierre Rolland (France) Europcar 16:31
9. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana 16:38
10. Thibaut Pinot (France) FDJ-Big Mat 17:17
Vive le Tour and Sante!
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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