The final stage for the Tour de France saw the glory of its riders in Paris. There’s much to look forward to for 2011’s Tour de France and despite the scandals and controversies, it remains the most exciting race of the year.
The 97th Tour de France saw Alberto Contador of Astana taking the crown without a stage win. Amidst all the controversy, Contador raised the bar after winning for the third time. Contador shares, “It was a Tour where I had a lot of pressure, especially physically as I was not at my best form. It took a lot of confidence to face difficult situations…The three victories were very different. The first, in 2007, was special, because that was the first; last year, the situation was difficult and this made it difficult. And this year I had difficult moments; but I could count on a strong team. I realize that each year I gain in experience. I know better how to lead a team throughout the race. Now I am happy to enjoy this victory and I’ll take a good vacation.”
Andy Schleck of Team Saxo Bank ended the Tour in maillot blanc. Due to the 39 seconds he lost over a mechanical problem on stage 15, Schleck came second to Contador. “When you’re that close of taking the overall win you can’t help thinking about what you could have done differently. But with two mountain stage wins, the overall youth competition, six days in the leader’s jersey and overall second, you’re really not in the position to complain,” said Schleck.
Mark Cavendish of HTC Columbia holds the title of being the first rider in history to win the Champs-Elysees twice. He also finished the final stage with a spectacular performance with a sprint finish that proved his nickname as the Manx Missile. “My Tour didn’t start too well and in the first week I was wondering how it would turn out, but the team rode incredibly strongly for me and I tried to make amends. As the race progressed my feelings got better and better and winning here in Paris on the most spectacular finish of them all is a great way to end the race. When you win you get confident, when you’re confident you win. It’s as simple as that.”
The top ten in the GC were missing a few big names like Lance Armstrong, Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins. For his last tour, Armstrong simply didn’t have it in him to finish with a stellar performance. This is most probably due to the crashes during the first few stages and the upcoming Landis case.
Alessandro Petacchi of Lampre-Farnese showed everyone that age does not matter in the Tour de France. His performance was commendable as he defended and wrestled for the green jersey and emerged victorious against Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team) and Mark Cavendish. The green jersey is the best prize for consistent performances and results: I always gave my best and the team was always perfect, so the victories and the results came as consequence. At the beginning of the Tour the points classification was not my target but, stage by stage, I understood that I could be competitive and now I’m very happy that I decided to battle for this result. A special thank to the team and to the sponsors: they were always with me, especially in the tough moments,” said Petacchi.
Editorial Note: We want to apologize to everyone for the late delay on covering the last stage.