Cadel Evans (BMC) became the first Australian to win the Tour de France on Sunday, safely completing the 2011 race’s final stage to Paris. Mark Cavendish (HTC) won on the Champs Élysées to take Britain’s first Tour de France green jersey.
Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek) placed second overall for the third year running, with brother Frank Schleck (Leopard-Trek) in third. In another first – it’s the first time that two brothers have shared the Tour podium.
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Cavendish and his HTC-Highroad team executed a perfect final sprint to give the Manxman the victory for the third consecutive year, his fifth stage of the 2011 race and 20th Tour stage win in total.
Showdown on the Champs Élysées
The final stage of the 2011 Tour started with a minute’s silence led by Norway’s Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) in memory of those that died in the recent massacre in their home country.
The traditional amble into Paris the followed, during which the riders posed for the cameras, drank Champagne and celebrated the end of three weeks’ of hard racing. The bunch stayed together until the race touched the final 40km, when Britain’s Ben Swift (Sky) launched a solo attack.
Swift quickly opened up a gap and was joined by five other riders shortly afterwards – Sergio Paulinho (Radioshack), Kristjan Koren (Liquigas-Cannondale), Christophe Riblon (Ag2r), Lars Bak (HTC-Highroad) and super combativity award winner Jeremy Roy (FDJ).
The break scooped up the first six places at the intermediate sprint, with Cavendish winning the bunch gallop for seventh spot. Green jersey rival Jose Rojas (Movistar) placed ninth.
The escape group worked well together, and built up a lead of over 40 seconds as the race hit the final 25km. It was only in the final 12km that the gap started to slip to under 30 seconds, as the sprinters’ teams hit the front of the peloton.
As the peloton neared on the final lap, all but Swift and Bak sat up the duo maintaining a slim eight second gap. Swift was dropped by Bak as his HTC-Highroad team-mates hit the front of the bunch for Cavendish.
Bak then continued solo for a short while but both he and Swift were swept up, bringing the race together in the final two kilometres.
HTC-Highroad then assembled at the front of the bunch, winding up the pace to nullify any potential last-ditch attacks. Mark Renshaw delivered Cavendish into the final 500 metres, with Boasson Hagen on his wheel. Rojas was nowhere to be seen.
For the third year in a row, no one could get close to Cavendish and he sat up to kiss the green jersey as he crossed the line, bringing the 2011 Tour to a close.
This year’s race will be remembered for many things aside from Evans becoming the first Australian to secure the overall title and Cavendish becoming the first Brit to win the green jersey:
Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) wearing the yellow, green and polka-dot jerseys in succession after lighting up the opening stage of the race.
The opening week’s crashes that wiped out several of the big overall contenders, including Britain’s Bradley Wiggins (Sky). Norway winning four stages, two apiece for world champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) – the latter also took British squad Sky’s first Tour win.
The horror incident that saw Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) hit by a French TV car and subsequently knocking Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) through a barbed wire fence leaving him requiring 33 stitches – and then him carrying on in the race.
The Garmin team winning its first stage of the Tour de France, and then opening the floodgates with four wins.
And, of course, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) valiantly defending his overall lead against the odds through the Pyrenees and into the Alps. Seldom has the yellow jersey been defended with such vigour and worn with such pride – not, perhaps, since the last time Voeckler wore it in 2004.
Leopard-Trek may have left the race without the yellow jersey, but the squad’s mantra of ‘True Racing’ summed up the 2011 Tour de France perfectly.
Tour de France 2011, stage 21: Créteil to Paris Champs-Élysées, 95km
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky
3. Andre Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto
4. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Cervelo
5. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard-Trek
6. Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
7. Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM
8. Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Astana
9. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quick Step
10. Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Saur-Sojasun all same time
Final overall classification
1. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing
2. Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek at 1-34
3. Frank Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek at 2-30
4. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar at 3-20
5. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank-Sungard at 3-57
6. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 4-55
7. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 6-05
8. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 7-23
9. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Cervelo at 8-15
10. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 10-11
31. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 1-00-48
76. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 2-14-56
130. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad at 3-15-05
137. Ben Swift (GB) Sky at 3-18-07
Final points classification (green jersey)
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad 334 points
2. Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar 272 points
3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 236 points
Final mountains classification (polka-dot jersey)
1. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 108 points
2. Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek 98 points
3. Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 74 points
Final youth classification (white jersey)
1. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar
2. Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis at 46 sec
3. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 7-53
Ben Swift finishing his first Tour in style as he heads the last day’s escape group
Cadel Evans in yellow
Mark Cavendish wins
Cadel Evans (centre) flanked by Andy Schleck (left) and Frank Schleck (right)
Garmin-Cervelo take the top team award – including a cardboard David Zabriskie (right)
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France 2011: Latest news
Tour de France 2011: Stage reports
Stage 20: Evans blows Schlecks away and takes yellow to Paris
Stage 19: King Rolland crowned on the Alpe but team-mate Voeckler loses yellow to Andy Schleck
Stage 18: Andy Schleck wins, Contador cracks and Voeckler keeps yellow by seat of his pants
Stage 17: Boasson Hagen makes it two for Sky as Voeckler loses more time
Stage 16: Evans and Contador go on the attack as Hushovd wins in Gap
Stage 15: Cavendish takes fourth stage win in 2011 Tour
Stage 14: Vanendert surprises the favourites as Voeckler holds on
Stage 13: World champ Hushovd takes well deserved solo Tour win
Stage 12: Sanchez wins at Luz Ardiden as Frank Schleck gains on other contenders
Stage 11: Cavendish moves into green after winning in Lavaur
Stage 10: Greipel beats Cavendish in Tour stage 10 sprint
Stage nine: Sanchez conquers day of crashes and climbs
Stage eight: Costa wins first mountain stage of 2011 Tour
Stage seven: Cavendish wins but Wiggins crashes out of Tour
Stage six: Boasson Hagen takes Sky’s first Tour de France win
Stage five: Cavendish wins in Cap Frehel
Stage four: Evans edges out Contador on the Mur-de-Bretagne
Stage three: Farrar sprints to first Tour victory in Redon
Stage two: Garmin win team time trial to put Hushovd in yellow
Stage one: Gilbert blasts to victory as Tour gets off to spectacular start
Tour de France 2011: Highlights videos
Tour de France 2011: Photo galleries
Tour de France 2011: Live text coverage
Tour de France 2011 LIVE: CW’s text coverage schedule
Stage seven live text coverage
Tour de France 2011: Archive videos
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Video: The Indurain years
Video: Ladies of the Tour
Video: Best of bizarre
Tour de France 2011: Archive articles
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Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index