What a final day at the Tour de France for Britain. Bradley Wiggins confirmed as the first British winner of the General Classification (GC) with Chris Froome second and Mark Cavendish winning the final stage into Paris for the fourth consecutive year and in the World Champions jersey, incroyable!
It’s been a quite stunning Tour from a British perspective, 7 stage wins from British riders is pretty incredible in itself with David Millar added to the three aforementioned riders all taking stage wins. As Mark Cavendish pointed out that’s a third of the stages of the Tour.
Aside from Cavendish I don’t recall that many stages being won by British riders in the past, a quick glance over at Wikipedia reveals that there’s only been 11 in the whole history of the race, 4 of those have done so in the last few weeks which I think emphasises what a dominant year we’ve had in the tour.
This dominance has led to discussion about how this was a boring race and in some ways I’d agree, I guess that unless you’re British or Slovakian this may well be even more true, but I think it’s unfair to lay the blame for that with Team Sky.
If you’re wearing the yellow jersey the job of your team is to defend it, I think it’s more down to other teams not being able to attack that made it a little underwhelming at times and I’d never have thought before the race that Wiggins would have worn the maillot jaune for so long.
It’s also been said that this is perhaps the cleanest tour of modern times and hopefully that is true, but I think this means it less likely you’re going to witness some of the superhuman efforts of the recent past. So we may have to expect less fireworks although I’m happy to sacrifice that for fair competition, there’s still plenty of drama, just look at the gurning face of Thomas Voekler.
It’ll be a very different affair next year which will be the 100th edition of the race. For one I can’t see Mark Cavendish staying with Team Sky if they continue to commit riders to winning the GC which I think it is safe to assume they will with riders like Wiggins and Froome amongst their ranks.
I think it pretty likely that he’ll move to a team built around his sprinting skills. Contador and Shleck will be back and there’s some good younger riders emerging and it’ll be interesting to see whether it will be Froome rather than Wiggins who rides for the GC.
Either way I’m absolutely delighted for Wiggins, a Mod who grew up in London with a refreshingly unpolished media style and an advocate of clean riding who’s put in a massive amount of hard work and dedication to achieve his dreams. Fantastic stuff. And with the Olympics due to start this weekend things could get even better for British cycling.
If the coverage of the win in the Newspapers today is anything to go by then the monumentalism of this win isn’t lost on their editors either, It’s front page news on every paper that I’ve seen and mostly the lead image is of Wiggins. I’ve been pretty surprised by that but it’s clearly captured the imagination.
Congratulations also to Thomas Voekler, Peter Sagan and Teejay Van Garderen, the mountain, sprint and young rider winners respectively.
Another positive to come from this years race was the redesign of the Tour de France website. I don’t know why but the French seem to create some abominable websites and the previous incarnation of the TDF website was certainly one of them. They’ve done a great job at presenting the race itself as well as integrating lots of media. It’s also written in HTML5 and is perhaps one of the biggest design jobs I have seen to do so.