When Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins, David Millar and Charly Wegelius stood on the stage in Monaco during the 2009 Tour de France team presentation little did they know that three weeks later Britain would have its best ever Tour performance.
The four British riders are all grand tour veterans, but each of them managed to have a new experience in the 2009 Tour de France.
Cavendish exceeded all expectations by taking six stage wins, not only making British history but also adding his name to the list of all-time great Tour winners. He asserted himself as the fastest sprinter in the world, bar none.
Wiggins' fourth place overall was the revelation of the whole race, as the Olympic track champion showed the world that he can mix it up with the cream of the pro peloton. In the time trials and in the mountains, Wiggins held his own.
Millar was never far from the action, getting in breaks, helping team-mates Wiggins and Vande Velde in the mountains and leading out Garmin sprinter Tyler Farrar. He so nearly won stage six on a daring solo break but was caught on the line. His Tour ended on a high note, placing fifth in the final individual time trial.
Charly Wegelius is a veteran of many a grand tour, but having been originally told that he wasn't riding the Tour de France he was then given a last minute place when Silence-Lotto team-mate Thomas Dekker failed a dope test. Despite his lack of preparation, Wegelius threw himself into loyal domestique duties and managed to finish in 58th spot, just behind Denis Menchov and Kim Kirchen.
Here we take a pictorial look back at the 2009 Tour de France from the perspective of our four riders and salute them for a job well done.
Garmin team-mates Dav
id Millar (second left) and Bradley Wiggins (second right) line up for the official te
am presentation in
onaco on Thursday, July 2
vendish took pride of place in Columbia-HTC's line-up, but no-one could have predicted that he
David Millar went out hard in the opening stage one time trial in Monaco to place 14th
ggins had s
et out to win the opening time trial, and came third behind Fabian Cancellara and Alberto Co
ntador. His n
ame wouldn't drop out of the top ten for the duration of the race
Wiggins wore the green jersey during stage two after his TT ride
Win number one. Mark Cavendish takes stage two...
... and becomes the secon
it to wear the 2009 green jersey
Mark Cavendish signs on
Wiggins and Millar's Garmin team came second in the stage four team time trial. Their time helped keep Wiggins in contention. Only Astana beat them
Cavendish wins the sprint for third on stage five after Thomas Voeckler won from a break
David Millar's solo attack on stage six nearly saw him win... but victory was snatched from him by the chasing bunch in Barcelona
Cavendish shows off his colour co-ordination on stage eight
Wiggins on stage eight, looking comfortable
... and looking equally as comfortable the following day, riding with Lance Armstrong on stage nine
Having lost the green jersey to Thor Hushovd, Cavendish pulled another stage win on Bastille Day, stage 10
And again the next day to bring his running total to four stage wins, matching the number he won in 2008
Garmin team-mates David Millar (left), David Zabriskie (centre) and Bradley Wiggins (right) on stage 11
Millar has another dig at being in a break on stage 12
Wiggins and Millar wrap-up on a rain-lashed stage 13
Charly Wegelius has fun in the sun on stage 14. Or is he catching flies?
One of Wiggins' finest moments was launching an attack on Verbier at the end of stage 15, he came fifth and went back up to third overall
Wiggins with Garmin team-mate Christian Vande Velde during a press conference on the second rest day
Cavendish could only sit and wait while green jersey nemesis Thor Hushovd went up the road on a points-collecting mission on stage 17
As the battle for the top five overall hotted up, Wiggins and Lance Armstrong shadowed each other in the fight for a podium place in Paris. Stage 17.
Wiggins on stage 18, the final individual time trial. He went out fast but was caught in a sudden gusty headwind near the finish to come home in sixth, one place behind Millar
After a big effort, and a bit of disappointment, Wiggins finds some privacy after the ITT
Win number five for Cavendish on a hilly stage that he 'wasn't supposed to win' - stage 19 to Aubenas
Millar heads up another escape group, this time on stage 19
... And Millar takes the front of the peloton on stage 20 for Bradley Wiggins and Christian Vande Velde, dropping them off at the foot of Mont Ventoux
Wiggins before the start of stage 20
Despite nearly three weeks' of racing in his legs, Wegelius was still cheerful
Cavendish exectued a perfect sprint finish to take the final stage of the 2009 Tour de France in Paris. He'd completed his first Tour with six stage wins in the bag.
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