Mark Cavendish was expected to become the first British rider to win the final Tour de France sprint on the Champs-Élysées but nobody could have expected him to win by so much.
Cavendish confirmed his status as the fastest sprinter in the world and his team mates proved yet again that they are perhaps the best ever lead-out train in cycling.
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Other teams, in particular Tyler Farrar’s Garmin-Slipstream squad, tried to disrupt and derail the Columbia-HTC lead-out train on the run-in to the line but ended up ruining their own chances.
Hincapie dragged the peloton across the Place de la Concorde and then Renshaw took the best line through the corner and onto the Champs-Élysées.
Cavendish was on his wheel, while the other sprinters tangled and blocked each other, and that meant that their sprint was over before it really began.
Cavendish moved past Renshaw with two hundred metres to go and opened an even bigger gap. If he had not sat up to celebrate, Cavendish would probably have won by a second, the gap was that big.
Behind, Renshaw kept going to take a deserved second place, with Farrar third. Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) was sixth and so secured the green points jersey.
“It’s amazing. I had to win. I said all along I wanted to win on the Champs-Élysées and didn’t want to disappoint,” Cavendish said.
It gave the Manxman his sixth stage win of the 2009 Tour and the 10th of his short career.
Contador wins 2009 Tour de France
Alberto Contador (Astana) finished safely in the peloton and crossed the line with his arms out wide. Despite all the rivalry from both outside and inside the Astana team, the Spaniard won his second Tour de France and raised two fingers in the air.
Contador jumped onto the podium with the Arc du Triomphe in the background and fired off his traditional victory salute. He beat second-placed Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) by 4-11, with team mate but rival Lance Armstrong (Astana) third at 5-24.
Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) finished in the bunch in 55th place and so secured his fourth place overall at 6-01. He equals Robert Millar’s 1984 record with the best ever performance in the Tour de France by a British rider.
Contador and Armstrong didn’t even exchange a smile on the podium, confirming that rivalry was as intense and as real as everyone has suspected. In 2010 they will be rivals in different teams after Contador revealed he will not ride for RadioShack with Armstrong.
Tour de France 2009, Stage 21: Montereau-Fault-Yonne – Paris, 164km
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-HTC
2. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Columbia-HTC
3. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Slipstream
4. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Milram
5. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Francaise des Jeux
6. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo
7. Jose Rojas (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
8. Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre
9. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
10. William Bonnet (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom all at same time.
55. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream
62. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana
63. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank
97. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana all at same time.
Final overall classification
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana in 85-48-35
2. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 4-11
3. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 5-24
4. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 6-01
5. Frank Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 6-04
6. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Astana at 6-42
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at 7-35
8. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 12-04
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas at 14-16
10. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Francaise des Jeux at 14-25
17. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo at 26-21
30. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto at 45-24
51. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 1-17-04
59. Charly Wegelius (GB) Silence-Lotto at 1-29-37
85. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 2-15-04
131. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-HTC at 3-21-54
1. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo 280 points
2. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-HTC 270 points
3. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Milram 172 points
1. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
Young rider classification
1. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank
Mark Cavendish wins in Paris, the first British rider to do so
2009 Tour winner Alberto Contador (centre) is flanked by second-placed Andy Schleck (left) and Lance Armstrong (right) on the podium
Stage 20: Contador’s Tour lead safe; Wiggins retains fourth overall on Ventoux
Stage 19: Five star Cavendish wins Tour stage in to Aubenas
Stage 18: Contador tightens grip on the maillot jaune
Stage 17: Schleck brothers overhaul Wiggins as Frank wins the stage
Stage 16: Astarloza snatches Alps stage win as contenders wind up the pace
Stage 15: Contador wins in Verbier as Tour explodes into life
Stage 14: Ivanov wins as Nocentini clings onto yellow
Stage 13: Haussler braves rain for victory in Colmar
Stage 12: Sorensen wins in Vittel as Cavendish goes for green
Stage 11: Cavendish takes fourth win to equal Hoban’s record
Stage 10: Cavendish spoils Bastille Day party to take third stage win
Stage nine: Third French win as contenders content with ceasefire
stage eight: Sanchez wins from break as Tour favourites cancel each other out
Stage seven: Feillu wins at Arcalis, Nocentini takes yellow, Contador leap-frogs Lance
Stage six: Millar’s brave bid denied on Barcelona hill as Hushovd triumphs
Stage five: Voeckler survives chase to win his first Tour stage
Stage four: Astana on top but Armstrong misses yellow by hundredths of a second
Live Tour de France stage four TTT coverage
Stage three: Cavendish wins second stage as Armstrong distances Contador
Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint
Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial
LATEST TOUR NEWS
Tour de France 2009 News Index>>
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Armstrong fighting hard for Tour podium place
Wiggins gets closer to Tour podium place
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How the Tour favourite are doing (Rest day 2)
Wiggins climbs to third in Tour overall
Armstrong concedes he can’t win the 2009 Tour
Tom Boonen quits the Tour de France
Stage 15 analysis: Is the Tour now over?
Columbia criticise Garmin for chasing Hincapie
Cavendish reveals he is going for green
Mont Ventoux preview
Garmin-Slipstream’s HQ before the Tour
David Zabriskie’s time trial bike
Mark Cavendish on the Tour’s team time trial
David Brailsford interview
Mark Cavendish on the Tour
Jonathan Vaughters on Bradley Wiggins’ chances
TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 PHOTOS
Stage 20 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 19 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 18 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 17 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 16 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 15 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 14 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 13 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 12 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 11 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four TTT photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Andy Jones
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Team presentation by Andy Jones
Team presentation by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2009: Who will win?
Tour de France 2009 on TV: Eurosport and ITV4 schedules
Big names missing from 2009 Tour de France
Tour de France anti-doping measures explained
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Cycling Weekly’s rider profiles