- The race 2011
- All about the race
It happened as expected: Cadel Evans has become the first Australian winner of the Tour de France. He has been close before but that’s all history now for the celebrations can begin for him and his nation that has been swept up in Tour fever while watching the live broadcast into the early hours of the morning. The BMC team leader was never worse than fourth in the general classification and, with his second place in the time trial in Grenoble he acquired the yellow jersey. The seventh day in the ‘maillot jaune’ at the Tour is the finest for it’s also the time that he wore it where always wanted to: in Paris!
Mark Cavendish rode a flawless sprint to pick up the 20th stage victory of his career and seal his victory in the points classification. The Manxman held off a charge from Edvald Boasson Hagen to take his fifth win in the 2011 Tour and become the first British winner of the green jersey.
In his seventh attempt at the Tour, Cadel Evans has become the champion. He made his debut in 2005 when he finished eighth overall with the Davitamon-Lotto team and, after having proved himself as a worth general classification rider he gained extra support for the following edition. In 2006 he was fourth overall and the progression continued... he was second twice by less than one minute (23” behind Alberto Contador in 2007 and 58” behind Carlos Sastre in 2008). Then came a year he’d rather forget about. His 30th place in 2009 prompted a change of teams and his presence in the BMC line-up earned the US-registered squad a wild-card invitation to the Tour in 2010. The Australian worked his way into the lead and swapped his rainbow jersey for the yellow one after stage nine – but, by then, he’d fractured a bone in his arm. While many riders would have retired after the crash that caused that injury, he continued on as a mark of respect fo the world championship jersey he earned in Mendrisio in September 2009 with a stunning rider near his Swiss base. He is the fourth 34-year-old to win the Tour title.
The Progress Report
The riders took over half an hour to roll through the 7.7km neutral zone before arriving at the site of the official start of the 21st stage of the 98th Tour de France. The final day of racing in the 2011 edition began at 3.02pm with 167 riders in the peloton. There were no climbs in the stage and the intermediate sprint came on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées with 35.5km to go. The new race leader said yesterday that all he hoped for today was “that the sun is shining in Paris”. Cadel Evans got his wish. It was fine with a temperature of about 24 degrees Celsius.
There was no early attack and the traditional festive atmosphere of the early phase of the final stage was on display with Evans posing for photos with the riders in second and third overall, as well as his BMC team-mates and numerous others in the peloton including Ivan Basso (LIQ) who shared the same coach as the rider in the yellow jersey, Aldo Sassi – who died late last year.
After 10km, Evans changed his yellow BMC bike for one in the traditional team colors. After an hour and 26 minutes of riding the peloton reached the finishing circuit on the Champs-Elysées and the BMC lead over the line for the first time.
The Attacks Start
On the second lap of the circuit, Swift (SKY) started the first successful escape. He was joined by Paulinho (RSH), Roy (FDJ), Koren (LIQ), Riblon (ALM) and Bak (THR) and they took the first points of the intermediate sprint, with Cavendish sprinting ahead of his rivals for the green jersey to take seventh 38” behind the escapees. The peloton was led by riders from the Garmin, HTC and Omega Pharma-Lotto team and, with 22km to go was 43” behind. That was the maximum gain of the escape.
Cavendish: Sprinting Perfection
Bak was the last of the escape to be caught and that happened just before the peloton dived into the tunnel leading to the Rue de Rivoli. There were several teams trying to take charge of the lead-out – Lampre, Omega Pharma-Lotto and Vacansoleil, all dabbled at setting up the sprint but they were swamped by the HTC Express in the final kilometer. Then it was the traditional line-up for the sprint: Goss then Renshaw then Cavendish and... voila! Victory number 20 was achieved. It is the third time that Cavendish has finished the Tour and he’s won in Paris each time. He is the winner of the green jersey.
An Australian First
Cadel Evans finished 56th in the final stage and is the winner of the 98th Tour de France. He stopped immediately after the finish to hug and thank all his team-mates. It is 30 years since Phil Anderson became the first non-European to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France and now his compatriot has taken a victory.
Andy and Fränk Schleck achieved an amazing coup: finishing second and third overall, just 1’34” and 2’30” behind the Aussie.
The winner of the white jersey was a super-domestique for most of the Tour de France in 2011 but when Pierre Rolland was given the chance to race for himself, he scored a victory – at Alpe d’Huez no less! He’s not afraid to take on more challenges.
“It feels good to cross the finish line. I was afraid of an incident on the closing circuits, when my team-mates stayed around me, and if there was a concern that I might have to change bikes. I had trouble to sort out everything that happened during the last three weeks. Today many riders congratulated me in the bunch, and I talked a lot more about the victory at Alpe d’Huez than about the white jersey. This is not a stage that I won, it is ‘The Alpe!’ I’m not saying it is above the other, but I’ll cherish it a lot. I beat Contador, but I think he made many mistakes. If he had attacked on the final climb, he would certainly have won.
“I knew that I had the ability to do some beautiful things at the Tour and I was ready. A month ago, when we had an update about out goals, I said I wanted the white jersey. Jean-René [Bernaudeau] told me that was very ambitious – there were still some very big contenders like Robert Gesink or Rein Taaramae. For a moment I set aside this objective, since we had to defend the yellow jersey of Thomas. His yellow jersey has clearly impacted on the team, it is also what allowed me to be at this level.
“Winning the Tour de France? Why not? But I am not a gifted cycling. I am someone who works hard and it’s very difficult to imagine all the sacrifices I make to get where I am now. I know that I will give my best to set the highest goals, and I’ll have no regrets on the day I stop my career. And I have 10 more good years ahead of me.”
In his seventh attempt at the Tour de France, Cadel Evans has become the winner. He’s been one of the strongest in the race every year he’s contested it but this year, with the help of his BMC team-mates, its manager John Lelangue, the sponsor Andy Rihs, and his osteopath and friend David Bombeke, the Australian has achieved the dream many cyclists have...
“As a young child we aspire to a lot of things in life and watching the Tour de France in 1991 and seeing [Miguel] Indurain tear everyone to pieces planted a small seed in my head that continued to grow. I went through some difficult periods – for two years I was really unlucky coming so close to winning here but maybe it’s just made it all that more special now.
“I was a bit surprised that Tina Arena came out to sing [the Australian national] anthem, that was very nice of her. I think that’s the ultimate dream of a Tour rider, to stand on the Champs-Elysées with an Australian singing the national anthem... it’s not a dream that comes true for many Australians. This win is for everyone in our country. It’s amazing.
“Things were shaping up really nicely but it’s not over until you cross the finish line. Now we have, so it’s done and won.
“It’s been years of hard work and there were a lot of moments in this three weeks where our Tour was lost but to get here safely with all my skin... just that alone is a quest in itself. But to be here wearing the yellow jersey – for my team, my country, a group of people around me... it leaves me a little lost for words.
“I think for the most part we didn’t lose it... until the time trial yesterday. It was a little bit of a different Tour de France in that there was a bit of defending from all the teams and we didn’t go on the attack until the final time trial.
“I hope I’ve brought a great deal of joy to my countrymen. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to fly the flag over here.”
He’s been fifth twice and now Fränk Schleck got to stand on the podium as the third best rider in the Tour de France.
“I think we did a really big race and I have no regrets. A champion also has to respect and accept that somebody is better than them and Cadel was the best. Yes, I’ve got age on my side... and that’s a good point. I’m sorry for him but we’ll certainly be back and we’ll challenge for the yellow jersey again."
The world champion won two stages of the 2011 Tour de France and he was at the podium in Paris to collect the trophy as part of the team classification winners, Garmin-Cervélo.
“My two stage wins were incredible and now we’ve won the team classification so it’s been a great Tour de France. It’s a tough few days for Norway. When I’ve raced for the last two days, it seems meaningless to race, compared to what happened in Norway. I just feel sorry for all of Norway and all the people who have family and friends who have been involved with this tragedy.
“You don’t expect this sort of thing to happen in a peaceful country like Norway. It’s a small and proud country and then this happens so of course I’m affected.
“I’ve had my best Tour de France ever so it’s been incredible. When I won the world championships last year, it was my biggest win ever but still, to do what I’ve done in the Tour de France with the rainbow jersey, makes it more special.”
Second for the third time in three years, the younger Schleck brother acknowledges the reality that only one man can win...
“It’s been a perfect Tour de France but there’s only one who can win. We knew that from the start and that’s Cadel and he also deserves this victory. He’s been fighting for it. I was fighting too but he was stronger and I’ll be back...”
With a tally of 20 stage victories since the 2008 Tour de France, it’s clear that there is no better sprinter in the race than Mark Cavendish. Now he’s got the other prize he sought: the green jersey.
“If you’ve seen how well my team rode then you’d know that I’m incredibly lucky that I’ve got such a group of guys around me. They’ve been committed to the cause of winning races and it’s paid off. It’s not as if we didn’t put it all together and I can’t stress how lucky I am. I get to wear this jersey. I get my name on the results board. Today was the perfect example of how well we ride.
“We didn’t have to chase the break because Lars [Bak] was in the break but when he came back we were ready. With this team, I can’t fail.
“This is absolutely my best Tour de France yet. Okay, I won six stages in 2009 but I didn’t get the green jersey. I wanted it this year and I won five stages – and the team got a sixth with Tony Martin – and I’ve got the green jersey so this tops off any result beforehand.
“The green jersey is an objective I’ve had in mind for a long time. It’s incredible to get it. This victory is nice... because I’ve got the green jersey. I want to celebrate with the guys tonight but we have other objectives: the Tour of Spain before the worlds at the end of the season.”
The last stage of the 2011 Tour de France’s team classification was won by Sky mainly due to second place of the Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen but it made no changes in the overall standings which was won the final by Garmin-Cervélo 11’04” ahead of Leopard-Trek and 1120” ahead of AG2R-La Mondiale.
The world champion Thor Hushovd has therefore stood on the podium in the middle of the Champs-Elysées along with seven other members of the US-registered outfit – and the team’s manager Jonathan Vaughters.
Only David Zabriskie – who left the race after a fall during the ninth stage – was absent for the podium ceremony in Paris. Hushovd has been a spokesman for the distress of his compatriots after the tragedy that occurred in Oslo this weekend. Once again, riders were keen to show they had big hearts by being a big contributor to the action of a Tour de France that will go down in history as one of the most exciting of the modern era. The team time trial winners are also the best squad in the overall standings after 21 days of racing.
There is said to be a public holiday announced in Australia as part of what is bound to be a long celebration for the victory of Cadel Evans in the 2011 Tour. He has taken the title with an advantage over Andy Schleck of 1’34" The top 10 in the 2011 Tour de France is: 1. Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC 2. Andy Schleck (LUX) LEO at 1’34" 3. Fränk 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
And so concludes the live coverage of the 98th Tour de France. Thanks for reading. Only a little over 11 months to go until the 99th edition.
Mark Cavendish has won the green jersey for the first time. He gestured to prize top as he cross the line to win his fifth stage this year. The top 10 in stage 21 is: 1. Mark Cavendish (GBR) THR - 95km in 2h27’02" 2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) SKY 3. André Greipel (GER) OLO 4. Tyler Farrar (USA) GRM 5. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) LEO 6. Daniel Oss (ITA) LIQ 7. Borut Bozic (SLO) VCD 8. Thomas Vaitkus (LTH) AST 9. Gerald Ciolek (GER) QST 10. Jimmy Engouvent (FRA) SAU
Cadel Evans has stopped almost immediately after the line to hug his team-mates and celebrate his victory in the 2011 Tour de France.
Mark Cavendish has won again. He has five stages this year and 20 in total.
With less than 1km to go in the 2011 Tour it’s the usual sight: the HTC lead-out train is in top gear and Cavendish is poised for the sprint.