2012 Tour de France - A Weeklong Wiggins Coronation
Roadcycling.com's Tour de France analysis continues. We can now officially begin the countdown to the 2013 Tour de France.
This was the last weekend of the 2012 Tour de France and we all knew what was going to happen by Sunday - England would have its first Tour de France champion.
Stage 19's time trial result could almost be seen as a forgone conclusion. It was a flat 53 kilometer route that was tailor made for Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins. His only rival was going to be his teammate Chris Froome.
Rabobank's Luis Leon Sanchez was in the "hot seat" for most of the day - but he must have known that he was only warming up the chair for Froome.
Sure enough Froome was 34 seconds faster than Sanchez. That was quickly eclipsed by Wiggins who crushed the course stopping the clock at one hour, four minutes and 13 seconds - one minute, 16 seconds faster than the man in second place: Froome. Wiggins' domination of the final time trial proved that he was indeed the strongest rider in the Tour de France peloton and a worthy Tour winner.
With such a commanding win in the race against the clock and the 2012 London Olympics just a little over a week away, Wiggins became a five star favorite to win Olympic time trial gold. Also, Mark Cavendish's win the day before had also put him on the short list of potential winners in the Olympic road race. How incredible would it be for England if they both earned gold in these events? Will England see a resurgence in road cycling like it did in America with Lance Armstrong's seven Tour wins? I have a gut feeling that Wiggins' legacy will shine brighter than Armstrong's. No matter how the USADA investigation turns out, in my opinion there will always be question marks behind his wins.
On the other end of the scale was BMC Racing Team's Cadel Evans. He had another bad day on the bike. His American teammate Tejay van Garderen passed him in the time trial, which only solidified the American's fifth place overall on the general classification as well as increased his lead in the white jersey young rider classification. It must have been some embarrassment for the defending Tour de France champion.
With the time trial in the books the race for the Tour's general classification was over. Wiggins could finally wrap his head around the fact that he was going to win the 99th Tour de France.
The 20th and final stage of the Tour de France is mostly a winners' procession until the peloton pulls onto the Champs-Élysées, then it's game on!
On the first lap BMC Racing's George Hincapie was waved to the front of the peloton as a nice sign of respect from his cycling peers, acknowledging that this was Hincapie's 17th and final Tour de France. Catching a ride in Big George's draft was RadioShack-Nissan's Chris Horner. Perhaps he was trying to catch the ear of Hincapie so he could put in a good word for him to BMC's management team. "Hey George, can you tell Och I'm available next year?" So