It’s over. After 22 days, 20 Stages and 3642 kilometers, the 2010 edition of the Tour de France has been run and won.
Alberto Contador secured the maillot jaune coming out of the Pyrenees after a fascinating and, at times, somewhat testy battle with Andy Schleck. He cemented his advantage in the Stage 19 individual time trial and stayed with the bunch today to win the Tour.
Andy Schleck came in second as he did in 2009, but it was a much improved performance. It is only a matter of time before he takes the step up to that last place on the podium. He again took the white jersey as best young rider.
Denis Menchov rounded out the podium in third. He decided to skip the Giro d’Italia this year to focus on the Tour and it has paid off. He never really challenged the leaders, but was not seriously outclassed by them either.
Lance Armstrong wound up his Tour de France career by crossing the line anonymously, buried deep within the peloton. Perhaps that's a fitting result, showing that despite his brilliance, the race is always bigger than the individual.
The polka dot jersey was taken out by Anthony Charteau, who is very comfortable in the mountains. However, looking at him in the peloton today, it was pretty obvious that he couldn’t wait for the race to be over.
The finish on the Champs-Elysees surely has to be one of the most remarkable venues for a sporting event and it invariably delivers a thrilling and often hair-raising finish.
Today was no exception. The green jersey was still there to be won if everything went to plan and Mark Cavendish was going to give himself every chance of winning.
There was a hectic and confused lead out as the peloton struggled to reel in a strong and well organized breakaway. They were caught on the last lap, but only after some serious scrambling. It resulted in the leading teams being unable to set up the finish as carefully as they normally would.
Not that it mattered for Cavendish. He has shown that he has so much speed that provided he’s somewhere near the front, he’s going to be unbeatable in a sprint.
He and Alessandro Petacchi—the winner of the green jersey—launched at the same time. Despite the fact that he was a bike length behind Petacchi, Cavendish passed him and continued to accelerate away to win by three or four bike lengths.
He has won a staggering 15 stages over the last three Tours and is simply the fastest sprinter in road cycling today. That he hasn’t won a green jersey is a travesty, but it’s about more than just spectacular finishes.
So that’s it for another year and my sleep patterns can return to normal. Can’t wait for 2011!
Standings at the end of the 2010 Tour de France.
1. CONTADOR A. 89h 16' 27"
2. SCHLECK A. 00' 39"
3. MENCHOV D. 02' 01"
1. PETACCHI A. 243 Pts
2. CAVENDISH M. 232 Pts
3. HUSHOVD T. 222 Pts
King of the Mountains
1. CHARTEAU A. 143 Pts
2. MOREAU C. 128 Pts
3. SCHLECK A. 116 Pts