Wiggins makes Tour history
Fourth successive stage win in Paris for Cavendish
Bradley Wiggins was crowned Britain’s first Tour de France champion yesterday after helping Sky team-mate Mark Cavendish to secure a fourth consecutive stage win on the world-famous Champs Elysees in Paris.
Wiggins, who virtually sealed victory with his second time-trial win of the three-week epic on Saturday, finished the 3,479km race with a 3min 21sec lead over British team-mate Chris Froome after the 20th and last stage to Paris.
It was Isle of Man sprinter Cavendish’s fourth consecutive win on the Champs-Elysees, taking his tally of stage wins this year to three and to 23 overall.
“I’m more than happy,” said world champion Cavendish as he held his newborn baby at the finish line.
“The Champs Elysees is the most beautiful avenue in the world, and I’ve won here again.”
Three years after Wiggins equalled Scot Robert Millar’s 1984 best British finish of fourth overall, in 2009, Wiggins finally achieved his childhood dream of winning the world’s most prestigious bike race.
Italian Vincenzo Nibali, of the Liquigas team, finished third overall at 6:19.
“It’s magnificent,” said Wiggins.
“For us to finish like this as a team, helping Mark to victory and allowing him to defend his record here... it’s incredible.”
Team Sky achieved the rare feat of a 1-2 on the podium, the first since 1996, when Dane Bjarne Riis finished ahead of his German team-mate at Telekom, Jan Ullrich.
It is also the first time compat-riots have taken the first two places since France’s Laurent Fignon finished ahead of five-time winner Bernard Hinault in 1984.
Frenchman Thomas Voeckler, of Europcar, won the polka dot jersey for the race’s best climber, with Slovakian Peter Sagan, of the Liquigas team, easily securing the green jersey for the points competition.
American Tejay Van Garderen made up for BMC team leader Cadel Evans’s disastrous title defence by winning the race’s white jersey for the best-placed rider aged 25 and under.
Van Garderen was fifth at 11:04 while Evans, who made history for Australia in 2011, eventually finished nearly 16 minutes adrift.
RadioShack’s best finisher was Spaniard Haimar Zubeldia, but the American team topped the coveted teams’ classification, allowing them a podium appearance.
Voeckler’s two stage wins among a total of three for his Europcar team meant French riders won a total of five of the race’s 20 stages.
However Britain, thanks exclusively to Team Sky, won six.
Cavendish won three to take his tally to 23, Wiggins won both time trials and Froome won the first hilltop finish on stage seven.
“It’s been a very successful race for Team Sky, first and second on the podium and we’ve won six stages,” an elated Cavendish said.
“It’s been incredible to be part of.”
Top 10 riders
1. Wiggins (GBR) - 87h34m42s
2. Froome (GBR) at 3m21s
3. Nibali (ITA) - 6:19
4. Van den Broeck (BEL) - 10:15
5. Van Garderen (US) - 11:04
6. Zubeldia (ESP) - 15:43
7. Evans (AUS) - 15:51
8. Rolland (FRA) - 16:31
9. Brajkovic (SLO) - 16:38
10. Pinot (FRA) - 17:17
Last 10 winners
2003: Armstrong (US)
2004: Armstrong (US)
2005: Armstrong (US)
2006: Pereiro (ESP)
2007: Contador (ESP)
2008: Sastre (ESP)
2009: Contador (ESP)
2010: Contador (ESP)
2011: Evans (AUS)
2012: Wiggins (GBR)
From 99 editions the nations to have won the Tour de France are:
10: United States
2: Netherlands, Switzerland
1: Germany, Australia, Denmark, Ireland, Britain