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A Tour full of promise!

news27.07.2012After the race

Photo des maillots du tour 2012 - © ASO/O.Chabe

Bradley Wiggins' triumph in the 2012 Tour may well represent the dawn of a new era. The dominance of Team Sky could serve well the first British Tour champion again in the future, but also his second-in-command Chris Froome. Whatever happens in the English squad, which has achieved its number one goal in a mere three years, there is no doubt that the next few editions of the Tour will speak with a Slovak, French or American accent. Peter Sagan, Tejay van Garderen, Thibaut Pinot and Pierre Rolland gave us a peek into the future over the three-week race.

A former mountain biker gives way to a rider with a track cycling background in the palmarès of the Tour de France. The new champion's mastery of the race of truth formed a killer combination with his rock-solid consistency. Bradley Wiggins took his first two stage wins in Besançon and Chartres, and in the process opened a gap of almost two minutes on the runner-up, who was no other than his main helper Christopher Froome. The white Kenyan was instrumental in helping him to resist and respond with nerves of steel to the repeated but often timid attacks of his opponents. An analysis of the final general classification provides a detailed picture of the abilities and limits of the rivals who succumbed to Wiggins: the most courageous of them, Vincenzo Nibali, was unable to claw back any time whatsoever from Sky's leader despite doing his best on both ascents and descents. The Italian also paid the price for his relative weakness in the time trials, which left him 6'19" from the top spot on the podium, but he is happy to join the group of riders who have finished on the podiums of the three Grand Tours.

Cavendish, Sagan, Greipel:
3-3-3, advantage Slovakia!

A one-two in the general classification was not enough for Team Sky, whose faultless performance also netted them 6 stages (out of 21) that will increase their swagger. Froome's win on La Planche des Belles Filles, which was not as expected but just as spectacular as Wiggins' dominance in the time trials, heralded the rise of a new Tour star whose powerful kick also promises to light the fireworks in the spring Belgian classics. Mark Cavendish's three victories (although nitpickers will point out that this is his lowest tally over an entire Tour...) without the help of the first-class sprint train that used to take him from win to win round off a magnificent bounty.

Cav extended his undefeated streak on the Champs-Élysées, but right on his heels was a future rival (maybe from this weekend's Olympic road race) who took his first step by conquering the green jersey Mark wore in Paris last year. Peter Sagan greatly exceeded expectations in his first Tour de France. After ruling the roost in the hilly finishes in Seraing and Boulogne, he waited until Metz to show he was able to beat the fastest sprinters on the flat, including Greipel and Goss. The Tourminator's third stage victory consolidated his grip in the points classification but did not satiate his hunger for intermediate sprints and finishes within his reach. In addition to his three wins, he finished five times in the Top 5 of stages! It is clear now why a chasm of 141 points separated Sagan from the runner-up in the green jersey competition, André Greipel. The German sprinter, who also got a treble in the 2012 Tour, overcame all his fears of Mark Cavendish and made the most of a dedicated sprint train in the stages to Rouen, Saint-Quentin and Cap d'Agde.

Thibaut Pinot, the most consistent
follower of Team Sky in the mountains

Peter Sagan still lacks what it takes to challenge for the general classification, but time is on his side as he still has three years to go for the white jersey for the best young rider, won by Tejay van Garderen this year. At BMC, the disciple has clearly surpassed the master. Neither the time trials nor the mountains revealed chinks in the armour of the young American, unlike Cadel Evans, who never really came close to mounting a successful defence of his title. Van Garderen finished fifth in the pecking order of the race. No-one can know for sure whether his duty towards Evans prevented him from reaching a better position. But what is for sure is that the white jersey never lost his calm when faced with the competition in his category. It is by no means certain that he will be able to keep for long such a big gap between him and Thibaut Pinot (6'13"), who showed as much promise in this Tour as Peter Sagan. Winning the stage to Porrentruy was not enough for the youngest rider in the peloton. He defended his Top 10 place by being the most consistent follower of Team Sky in the mountains, while Nibali, Van Den Broeck, Van Garderen and Zubeldia, all above him in the general classification, were successively dropped on the climbs ((La Toussuire, Peyragudes, etc.).

Voeckler's Pyrenean credentials:
Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin and Peyresourde!

Up-and-coming French cyclist Thibaut Pinot (10th) finished close to Pierre Rolland (8th) in the general classification. The white jersey of the 2011 Tour needs to work hard on his time trialling if he is to finish on the podium one day, but he brought home the bacon in the mountains. After winning on the Alpe d'Huez last year, this time round he grabbed the toughest Alpine stage at La Toussuire. Nonetheless, he missed out on the polka-dot jersey, with which teammate Thomas Voeckler started a love affair in the latter part of the race. The stage hunter opened his tally by taking the stage to Bellegarde-en-Valserine. Later on, en route to his second win in this edition in Bagnères-de-Luchon, Europcar's leader added the most prestigious Pyrenean passes to his credential and bagged the points on offer at the summits: Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin and Peyresourde. That is more than enough for this year!

A total of eight teams took one or more stages in the Tour. Spain's Luis León Sánchez and Alejandro Valverde scavenged something for Rabobank and Movistar, respectively, to save what would have otherwise have been a very disappointing Tour. The other fourteen teams got a meagre reward for their efforts to liven up the race, except for Chris Anker Sørensen, who won the most combative rider award.


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Jersey wearers after the stage 5

Classifications after the stage 5

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