- The race 2011
- Key moments
- All about the race
Cadel Evans has had numerous set backs over the years but he is the finest cyclist in the world. He was born with a broken nose, three weeks past his due date but at 34 years of age, he is going to become the first Australian to win the Tour de France. At the age of eight he was kicked in the head by a horse, fracturing his skull and putting him in a coma for weeks. Doctors didn’t expect him to walk again after that accident but he has done a lot more than that. In Grenoble he was a dominant force. He became the virtual leader of the Tour de France before the halfway mark of the 42.5km time trial of stage 20 and, by the 27.5km mark, he had more than double the time he needed to win the title. Andy Schleck ended up finishing 2’31” behind the BMC team leader and the Schleck brothers were shunted down the rankings from first and second overall to third and fourth.
Evans has been close to victory before, finishing twice in the 2007 edition (by just 23” to Alberto Contador) and second in 2008 (by just 58” to Carlos Sastre. The first Australian to win the world road race championships is now going to be the first from his country to win the yellow jersey.
Tony Martin was the fastest in the race that started and finished in Grenoble and he gave his HTC-Highroad team its fifth stage win but the story of the day was the change of the yellow jersey to the runner-up in stage 20. He is the fourth 34-year-old to win the Tour de France. The Schleck brothers – Andy and Fränk – are now ranked second and third overall, at 1’34” and 2’30” respectively.
The Progress Report
The final true challenge for the riders vying for overall honors in the 2011 Tour de France was a 42.5km time trial that started and finished in Grenoble. There were 166 riders still in the race, with Bjorn Leukamans (VCD) finishing well outside the time limit in stage 19. The first to start the 20th stage was the ‘Lanterne Rouge’ – ie. the last man in the general classification rankings – Fabio Sabatini (LIQ) who began the penultimate stage of the 98th edition at 10.26am. Riders departed at two-minute intervals until the final 21, when the racers were separated by three minutes.
The roads were wet at the start, it was overcast but it had stopped raining by the time the action actually got underway. The temperature was 20 degrees Celsius.
De Gendt Sets The Early Standard...
The 2001 under-23 TT world champion Danny Pate (THR) posted the best times early in the race around Grenoble. Bodnar (LIQ) beat the American at the early checks and then came a succession of faster times... including that of Westra (VCD) but it was the 42nd rider to start the stage who blitzed everyone despite racing in wet conditions. At the 15km mark, he was 22” ahead the previous best, Bodnar (LIQ), at 27.5km 26” faster than Westra (VCD), and at 35.5km 51” faster than Westra. The quadruple time trial world champion posted a time of 57’15” (44.54km/h). It was the Australian, Richie Porte (SBS) who eclipsed the time of Cancellara; he started slower than the Swiss rider (32” down at 15km) but by the finish he was 12” ahead. The 102nd rider to start, Thomas De Gendt (VCD) was 18” behind at the 35.5km but at the finish the Belgian was one second ahead of the Saxo Bank-SunGard rider. The Vacansoleil rider was sixth at Alpe d’Huez...
Martin Blasts Over Course At 45.9km/h
The 121st rider to start the stage was Tony Martin (THR). He won the TT of the Criterium du Dauphiné on the same course as the one used for stage 20 of the Tour and he set the best time at every check and riding a perfect stage on dry roads to take 1’29” off the time set by De Gendt. Martin’s time was five seconds slower than stage three of the race in June, but at 45.9km/h it was an impressive effort. The winner of the stage to Gap, Boasson Hagen (SKY) had to change bikes but he still posted a time just 2’10” slower than Martin. The top five at the finish remained the same until the arrival of Peter Velits – the 149th rider to start. But before the GC favorites began to arrive the top five was: 1. Martin; 2. De Gendt at 1’29”; 3. Porte at 1’30”; 4. Cancellara at 1’42”; 5. Velits at 2’03”.
Evans Creates History
It appeared that the stage was decided early in the day, the battle for the victory of the Tour was on right to the end. Cadel Evans (BMC) became the virtual leader of the Tour with 20km to go in the time trial when he made up the 57” he lagged behind Andy Schleck after 3,292.5km of race. Then, at the 27.5km mark, Evans was only seven seconds shy of Martin’s time.
Pierre Rolland (EUC) managed to hold on to his lead in the youth classification by 46” and he will be the first Frenchman to win the white jersey since Benoit Salmon in 1999.
Evans, meanwhile, while ride to Paris with a lead of 1’34” over the former race leader thanks to his second place in the stage.
There were two races taking place in Grenoble, one for the stage victory the other for the Tour title. Cadel Evans nearly took both but Tony Martin confirmed that he is one of the finest time trial riders of his generation.
"I felt very good at the start of the race. I quickly found my rhythm, and I managed to climb fast enough all the hills and get up to a good speed on the downhills. I was very nervous when I looked at the time of Cadel Evans because, at the beginning, I had a good lead but then he got closer and closer and was just seven seconds behind. So, in the last kilometer, I wondered if he would do better than me; it was very stressful. Winning a stage on the Tour de France is my goal for a long time. So it’s a great day for me."
He claimed the stage to Alpe d’Huez and took the white jersey in stage 19 thanks to that performance. Now Pierre Rolland will be one of the four jersey winners of the 2011 Tour de France.
"In the evening, everyone in the team told me it was good, that I would keep the white jersey. But Rein was not beaten until he was really beaten. On paper, Taaramae is stronger than me [in the time trial], but the difference was the freshness. My main quality is recovering, and I believe I arrived more fresh for this time trial. I did not know this morning if my legs were good, after what I did yesterday. And when I stepped on the home trainer, everything seemed to go well.
“During the time trial, I could not believe it. At five kilometers from the finish, my radio was disconnected, so I had not known the time gaps. And I even thought my directeur sportif was deliberately not giving me any splits because they were not good. I have raced to keep this jersey and at the first intermediate check I saw that I ws only one minute behind the fastest time, but generally I’m between two minutes or two-and-a-half by that stage of a time trial. “Now I’m a little superstitious, so I wait to cross the finish line in Paris, without incident. In Paris there will be only four jerseys on the podium, and I won one!”
When Cadel Evans was told by a journalist that he looked satisfied, the 34-year-old laughed said, “Give me any reason not to be.” The Australian didn’t win the penultimate stage but in Grenoble he netted the ultimate reward in cycling, the yellow jersey of the Tour de France.
“Aldo Sassi said to me last year, ‘Now you’ve won the world championship, you’ve made yourself a complete rider but you can win a Grand Tour and I hope for you it’s the Tour de France.’ It was he who believed in me from 2001 and he never doubted my abilities he never gave up with me and he worked through good and bad.
“I’ve had some bad moments in the last 10 years but that just makes the good moments even better.
“In [the final time trial of] past years... in 2007, Contador had a particularly good day that day. I had an average day. I think I was seventh or eighth... I didn’t have a bad day. In 2008 I was injured, I was exhausted I was on my limit absolutely every day. Just getting in to bed or having a shower was so fatiguing and stressful. Physically and emotionally it was just so difficult but then you’ve got to go to a time trial and any weakness you have really shows up. That’s when everyone was saying, ‘For sure, you’re going to win...’ but I pulled up short. That was still the hardest Tour I ever rode in my life.
“Today I just went through the processes like we do every day. We have a plan and today it was ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ and we followed the plan, did the best we could and we came up a few seconds short for the stage [win] but I’ll look back at it in time and, when I’ve got time to reflect on it, I’ll enjoy it I’m sure.
“It’s been a bit of a strange race. In the mountains there wasn’t a definitive strong team... but we did everything right each step of the way. Everyone in my team, every step of the way, we did everything we could to put me in the right position today.
“I can’t quite believe it all quite now. My thanks go to everyone who played a part in today – we’re talking 20 years of work has been put into this performance.
“There has been a lot of great work put in by people behind me – some are still with us and some are not any more – but I hope the sun is shining tomorrow on the Champs-Elysées and we to the finish without any problems.
“A lot of people like to criticize but they should try and do it.”
The anticipation was high at the start of the stage and now, finally, we have the answer of who the winner of the 98th Tour de France is going to be. The top 10 after 20 stages is: 1. Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC 2. Andy Schleck (LUX) LEO at 1’34" 3. Frank Schleck (LUX) LEO at 2’30" 4. Thomas Voeckler (FRA) EUC at 3’20" 5. Alberto Contador (ESP) SBS at 3’57" 6. Samuel Sanchez (ESP) EUS at 4’55" 7. Damiano Cunego (ITA) LAM at 6’05" 8. Ivan Basso (ITA) LIQ at 7’23" 9. Tom Danielson (USA) GRM at 8’15" 10. Jean-Christophe Peraud (FRA) ALM at 10’11"
With all the riders at the finish of the time trial in Grenoble, the top 10 for the stage is: 1. Tony Martin (GER) THR - 42.5km in 55’33" (45.9km/h) 2. Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC at 7" 3. Alberto Contador (ESP) SBS at 1’06" 4. Thomas De Gendt (BEL) VCD at 1’29" 5. Richie Porte (AUS) SBS at 1’30" 6. Jean-Christophe Peraud (FRA) ALM at 1’33" 7. Samuel Sanchez (ESP) EUS at 1’37" 8. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) LEO at 1’42" 9. Peter Velits (SVK) THR at 2’03" 10. Rein Taaramae (EST) COF at 2’03"
Frank Schleck has finished 2’47" behind Tony Martin (THR). The German has won his first Tour de France stage with a time of 55’33" (45.9km/h). The winner of the Tour is going to be Cadel Evans (BMC).
Cadel Evans was the first Australian to lead the Giro d’Italia (in 2002), he was the first form his country to win a long time trial at the Tour de France. There are a multitude of things that he has done for the first time: The first Aussie world road race champion... is now going to be the first Australian winner of the Tour de France.
Frank Schleck is going to lose his second place in the general classification. The Luxembourger has arrived at the finished his time trial with the 19th best time. He is 2’40" behind Tony Martin.