Wiggins Wins Tour de France 2012; Cav Takes Final Stage
Bradley Wiggins (Sky) is the first British winner of the Tour de France.
Bradley Wiggins (Sky) is the first British winner of the Tour de France. Wiggins became champion after Stage 20, a flat, 120-km run from Rambouillet to Paris. Wiggins's teammate Mark Cavendish took the stage with the help of a leadout from the champion. Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) finished second, and Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) took third.
As it usually is, the final stage of the Tour was a lark until the field reached the Champs Elysees. When the race reached the Champs, two of the peloton's older members, Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) and George Hincapie (BMC), went to the front to accept the crowd's applause. (For Hincapie, the 2012 Tour was a swansong.) When Horner and Hincapie dropped back, Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan) and Danilo Hondo (Lampre-ISD) took their turns in the spotlight. Then, the peloton got serious.
Rui Costa (Movistar), Voigt, Marcus Burghardt (BMC), Sebastien Minard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol), Maxim Iglinsky (Astana), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Jean Marc Marino (Saur-Sojasun), Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), Bram Tankink (Rabobank), and Alexander Kuchynski (Katusha) sallied off of the front. The 11 riders forged a 30-second lead.
Team Sky led the chase for Cavendish, and Liquigas joined in for Sagan. Attrition took its toll, and only Minard, Voigt, and Costa remained at the front. With three km left, the peloton reeled them in. Not long before the catch, a crash took down Hondo and Mikael Cherel (Ag2r-La Mondiale).
Sky took over at the front. Wiggins led the field into the last km. Edvald Boasson Hagen took over for the run to the finish. He pulled off, and Cavendish powered home for the win.
For Wiggins, the sprint on the Champs Elysees was the end of a long journey. The son of a British mother and an alcoholic Australian track cyclist from whom he became estranged, Wiggins became entranced with cycling watching Greg Lemond and later Miguel Indurain win the Tour de France.
When Wiggins began racing, he started on the track and won six Olympic medals. On moving to the road, Wiggins won a stage of the 2009 Giro d'Italia and the 2009 and 2010 British time trial championships, along with the 2011 road race championship. He finished fourth in the 2009 Tour de France, and he won the Dauphine Libere in 2011. Wiggins crashed out of the 2011 Tour, but he went back to work and won the 2012 Paris-Nice, Tour of Romandy, and Dauphine Libere. He won two stages of the 2012 Tour.
In the overall, Wiggins beat teammate Christopher Froome by 3:21 and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) by 6:19. In other competitions, Sagan won the points competition, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) took the King of the Mountains competition, Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) won the best young rider competition, and Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) took the most aggressive rider competition. Look for these riders and others in the Olympic Games, the Vuelta a Espana and other 2012 races. Check in at www.roadcycling.com to see how they fare!
Click here to view more photos and the final rankings of the 2012 Tour de France.