The moment that will resonate with me from this TdF is the moment Mark Cavendish ripped away from the rest on the Champs-Élysées and won the final “sprint” duel by 30 metres. The Tour has been an odd mix of anti-climax and entertainment this year, with massive egos (Armstrong and Contador) that make you shake your head, and filial strategy (Schleck and Schleck) that makes you marvel at the unique bond of brothers, but for me, in the end, it all came down to the sprints.
George Hincapie showed himself to be the super domestique that he truly is, delivered the final stretch to Australian Mark Renshaw, and Renshaw gave the Isle of Man’s Mark Cavendish the slingshot he needed to unleash one of the most thorough thrashings of a field of sprinters I’ve seen in recent memory. That was unexpected. Finally, in a slightly over-managed Tour, we had a moment of genuine electricity.
Mark Cavendish sprints to victory on Champs-Élysées
Sunday 26 July 2009 16.51 BST
Photograph: Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images
Mark Cavendish won the final stage of the Tour de France with another magnificent sprint, beating his nearest rival by over 30 metres at the famous finish on the Champs Elysées in Paris.
It takes his stage wins for this year’s Tour to six and his tally overall to 10. Last week he had eclipsed Barry Hoban’s record for a British rider of eight and it is only the 24-year-old’s second Tour.
A good view of Lac d’Annecy in the Haute Savoie, the site of stage 18 of the Tour de France. The lake is about 30km south of Geneva, Switzerland. You get a good idea of the length of the lake here. It has about 35km of shoreline.
This beautiful photo is by Etienne Cazin. Please click on the picture to visit his flickr page.
Trans. “Duingt Peninsula between my feet” — a stunning aerial view of Lac d’Annecy by Bruno Lamaison. Click on the photo to view his flickr page. Couldn’t resist looking ahead to Thursday’s Tour de France time trial around the lake.
From the Lac d’Annecy website:
After 11 years, the Tour de France finds Lake Annecy and its left bank. What a wonderful place for the last individual time-trial all around the lake! The Tour Caravan will pass from Sevrier to Duingt between 9.10 and 9.26 am. Competitors will race through Annecy at 10.50 am. The first cyclist will pass in Sevrier at 10.53 am; the last one at 5.02 pm in Duingt.
No shake-up after the eighth stage of the 96th Tour de France. Lance Armstrong remains in third, eight seconds back. Rinaldo Nocentini of Italy retains the yellow jersey for a second day after battling back on the last climb. Armstrong’s teammate, Alberto Contador, remains in second, two seconds ahead of Armstrong and six off the lead. Spain’s Luis Leon Sanchez gets the stage victory.
Up next, the last stage in the Pyrenees and with apologies to the kids in the room, it’s a bitch! Climbs of the Tour de France are categorized from 1 to 4. And then there is the “hors categorie” or “above category”, a tag reserved for the most severe climbs on the tour. Only four stages of the 2009 tour are categorized as above category, and Sunday’s ninth stage is one of them.
The Col du Tourmalet, which sits a few horse jockeys short of 7,000 feet, is a brutal climb and one of the most famous climbs of the Tour de France. From Sainte-Marie-de-Campan, the riders will climb more than 4000 feet to the Col du Tourmalet, perched at 6,939 feet.