Mark Cavendish wrapped up the 2010 Tour de France with his fifth stage win of the race, claiming the twenty-first stage on the Champs Elysees.
This time, Cavendish did it without the help of leadout man Mark Renshaw, again using his guile and speed to piggyback onto a Cervelo effort and accelerate away to victory.
Alberto Contador crossed the line mid-bunch to make sure of his third Tour de France win – his most hard-fought to date.
After an abortive RadioShack bid to wear custom jerseys with the race number 28 – denoting the number of cancer sufferers in the world in millions – on the last day of the Tour, the bunch set off slowly from Longjumeau.
The traditional demob-happy bunch antics were on display. Riders posed for photographers, the Astana team supped champagne and Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck enjoyed a good-natured faux sprint before shaking hands.
The speed shot up as the bunch entered central Paris and the famous city-centre circuit.
An eleven-strong group escaped soon after the first of nine passings of the Champs Elysees, consisting of Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia), Christian Knees (Team Milram), Alan Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Danilo Hondo (Lampre), Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Alexander Kuschynski (Liquigas), Karsten Kroon (BMC Racing Team), Remi Pauriol (Cofidis), Aitor Perez (Footon-Servetto) and Francaise des Jeux pair Anthony Roux and Sandy Casar.
Though never enjoying more than 25 seconds advantage, the escapees took the intermediate sprint points on offer, further strengthening Alessandro Petacchi’s position in the green jersey.
With a doomed survival bid, Knees, Kroon and Sorensen held off the chase of the bunch, led by Sky and HTC, for longest.
The finale saw several leadout trains clashing for control of the bunch. First, Team Sky had a four-man effort on the front, before Cervelo took over through the final corner, slipping Thor Hushovd into the best position for the final straight.
However, Mark Cavendish was well-placed behind, and the Briton used Hushovd as a slingshot, firing down the right side of the road with 200 metres to claim his fifth stage of this year’s Tour – in very different circumstances to his win twelve months ago, which saw him ably guided into the final corner by Mark Renshaw.
Indeed, it was very different circumstances to the Tour’s first road stage to Brussels, when he crashed on a corner in the closing kilometres. Since his emotional win in Montargis just over a fortnight ago, Cavendish has hardly put a foot wrong.
Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) followed the Briton across the line to secure the green points jersey, as Cavendish fell just 11 points short in his late push.
Flanked by Astana teammates as he finished mid-pack, Alberto Contador added to his overall Tour victories in 2007 and 2009, having been thoroughly tested by second-placed Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), who finished just 39 seconds behind. It was the fourth-closest Tour win in the race’s history.
Contador won the Tour without a single stage victory; in contrast, Schleck won two. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) completed the final podium in third overall.
Tour de France 2010, stage 20: Longjumeau to Paris Champs-Élysées, 102.5km
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia in 2-42-21
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
3. Julian Dean (NZ) Garmin-Transitions
4. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
5. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
6. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Milram
7. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo
8. Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo Bank
9. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katusha
10. Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo all same time
81. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana
Final overall classification
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana in 91-58-48
2. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 39 seconds
3. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 2-01
4. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 3-40
5. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma at 6-54
6. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 9-31
7. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions at 10-15
8. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 11-37
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas at 11-54
10. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack at 12-02
15. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 16-59
23. Lance Armstrong (USA) RadioShack at 39-20
24. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 39-24
26. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team at 50-27
67. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky at 2-00-05
151. Steve Cummings (GB) Team Sky at 3-45-47
154. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia at 3-51-23
158. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Transitions at 3-56-46
163. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo at 4-02-21
164. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo at 4-02-59
Points classification: Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre
Mountains classification: Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
Young rider: Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank
Please play below to watch video highlights of stage 20
Alberto Contador sits safely in the bunch on the Champs Elysees
Mark Cavendish takes his fifth stage of the 2010 Tour
Final podium (l-r): Andy Schleck (second), Alberto Contador (winner), Denis Menchov (third
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