Rambouillet – Paris Champs-Élysées (53.5km) Click for route map
I was spoilt for choice today with so many places to choose as scene for the final day of this memorable 2012 Tour. The helicopters took some wonderful photographs: several chateaux, the Palace of Versailles and some amazing long shots of famous landmarks of Paris with the River Seine glittering in the sunshine. In the end I decided to use a picture of the chateau at Rambouillet, which we had hoped to see last year but instead managed to get lost in Yvelines department, so missed out. Rambouillet lies on the edge of the vast Forest of Rambouillet (sometimes called the Forêt de l’Yveline) and is famed for its medieval fortress castle, the location for several international summits as well as being the official summer residence of the President of the French Republic.
Instead of finding the elusive Rambouillet last year we found ourselves a picnic place at Les étangs de Saint-Hubert, which the Tour also passed today, so I have included an aerial shot of this wildlife haven. Sometimes you end up finding somewhere attractive by a happy accident and this was one of those occasions, even though we would have liked to see Rambouillet and fully intend to do so on another occasion.
We are celebrating the acheivements of our amazing British cyclists and their Sky Team today, especially with the 2012 London Olympic Games only days away.
Bradley Wiggins has become the first ever Briton to take the coveted winners yellow jersey all the way to Paris. He won it at Stage 7 Tomblaine to La Planche des Belles Filles on 7 July and has kept it ever since, winning twice (Stage 9 and Stage 19 – both Time Trials). This is an amazing achievement with a final cumulative finishing time 3 minutes and 21 seconds ahead of fellow Briton and Sky teammate Chris Froome, who was in second place.
Mark Cavendish, the defending 2011 Green jersey winner and British champion won the coveted final stage in fine style again today, his fourth consecutive win on the Champs-Élysées. Sadly the green jersey was not to be his this year, a combination of factors including being caught up in or behind crashes in two crucial stages he could have contested early in the competition, plus a limited number of opportunities to take points on the flat stages where he excels. This is his third win of this Tour and he has now won 23 Tour de France stages, standing 4th in the record table, overtaking the records of both Lance Armstrong and André Darrigade. Another 2 stages will see him equal André Leducq with 5 stages to match Bernard Hinault, although it will be a while before he overtakes the record 38 wins of the great Eddy Merckx.
Sadly it is now all over for another year. Next year the 100th Tour is marked by le Grand Départ 2013 for the first time ever from Corsica, which will host three stages, starting on Saturday 29 June, with stage 1 from Porto-Vecchio to Bastia. It is a place I would really love to visit and I am expecting some wonderful scenery right from the start. À bientôt!
The top five of Stage 20
1. Mark Cavendish (GBR) SKY
2. Peter Sagan (SVK) LIQ
3. Matt Goss (AUS) OGE
4. Juan José Haedo (ARG) STB
5. Kris Boeckmans (BEL) VCD
Team placings after Stage 20
1. Team Radioshack
2. Sky Procycling
Jerseys at the end of the race
Yellow – Bradley Wiggins (2nd overall Chris Froome +03′ 21”)
Green – Peter Sagan
Polka Dot – Thomas Voeckler
White – Tejay Van Garderen
Super-combativity – Chris Anker Sorensen
Lanterne Rouge – Jimmy Engloulvent +03h 57′ 36” (last placed rider)
For more information on the cyclists, their teams and how they were placed see the Tour de France official site.
Read my TDF posts covering this and previous years.