Alberto Contador from Team Astana is now officially the Tour de France winner and his lead was, as is tradition, uncontested in the final stage. The real race was for the Champs-Élysées victory and green jersey. Mark Cavendish (Team HTC Columbia) took the stage victory ahead of Alessandro Petacchi of Team Lampre and Julian Dean of Team Garmin Transitions.
Cavendish’s fifth tour win also gave him enough points take move ahead of Thor Hushovd (Cerv?lo TestTeam) though Alessandro Petacchi secured second place in the sprint finish and maintained his overall points lead and takes the green jersey home. In the points classification, Robbie McEwen of Team Katusha was the best placed Australian rider in fifth overall.
The Yellow Jersey
The Yellow Jersey victory for Alberto Contador was already sealed after the stage 19 Individual Time Trial – Contador 39 seconds ahead of challenger Andy Schleck of Saxobank. Incidently, 39 seconds was Andy Schlecks lead over Alberto Contador before the mechanical (chain drop) that enabled Contador to take the yellow leaders jersey.
Denis Menchov of Team Rabobank secured the third place podium position in Paris after his stage 19 time trial ride put him ahead of previous 3rd place holder, Samuel Sanchez of Team Euskatel.
Frenchman, Anthony Charteau of Team BBox had already secured the King of the Mountains Polka Dot Jersey and in the Youth Classification, Andy Schleck’s consolation prize (for the yellow) was first placement in the white jersey. He was followed by Robert Gesink (Team Rabobank) and in third was Roman Kreuziger (Team Liquigas Doimo).
In the team classification, Radioshack took the honors ahead of Caisse d’Epargne and Rabobank. Lance Armstrong (Team Radioshack) was obviously influenced by the presence of hollywood stars (Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz) on stage 18, and decked team Radioshack out in jerseys promoting his LiveStrong Charity. “The Boss” was however not able to dictate the rules this time and the UCI forced the team to use their team gear. It did delay the start by 20 minutes.
Armstrong finished 23rd overall and while he was initially aiming for his eighth tour victory, he was involved in minor crashes and was not able seriously contend in the tours.
Australian Cyclists in the 2010 Tour de France
Cadel Evans of Team BMC Racing was the most promising Australian rider. The reigning World Champion held the yellow jersey for one stage however a fractured elbow seriously affected his performance and he lost too much time, extinguising his chances of a podium finish in this years tour.
Robbie McEwen of Team Katusha was a strong sprinter with five fourth placed finishes and fifth overall in the Points Classifications.
Brett Lancaster (Cervélo TestTeam), Wesley Sulzberg (Team FDJ), Stuart O’Grady (Team Saxobank), Luke Roberts (Team Milram), Matthew Lloyd (Team Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Michael Rogers (Team HTC Columbia) were supporting riders and compared with the 2010 Giro d’Italia, Australian riders took less of the spot light in this years Tour de France.
The withdrawals include Adam Hansen (Team HTC Columbia) who suffered a broken collar bone in stage one and while he completed the stage, his withdrew from the tour. Simon Gerrans (Team Sky) withdrew after stage 8 with a broken arm.
Mark Renshaw was the most controversial Australian rider, in Stage 11 he was leading team HTC Columbia teammate Mark Cavendish to his third victory and used his head to fend off Julian Dean (Team Garmin Transitions) who moved in with his elbow. The race officials deemed the three ‘headbutts’ to be worth a disqualification (though two riders previously involved in a fist and ‘front tire’ fight were simply fined).
The last of the Grand Tours, the Vuelta a Espana kicks off in a little over a month on August 28.