The shortest road stage of the 2012 Tour de France featured 2 climbs, an intermediate sprint, 8 laps on the Champs-Elysees, and plenty of traditions.
First, the four jersey leaders led the peloton through the neutral zone. Then, the current champion shook hands (Wiggins) with the former champion (Evans). Team Sky then rode a kilometer in solidarity for photos.
There were two Cat-4’s on the stage: KOM winner Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) won the first climb, the Cote de Saint Remy les Chevreuse. Ruben Plaza (Movistar) won the final climb of the 2012 Tour de France, the Cote de Chateaufort.
Otherwise, the “fireworks” started as Team Sky lead the riders onto the Champs-Elysees before turning that honor over to George Hincapie (BMC) as a retiring rider. Chris Horner (RadioShack) was on his wheel. Hincapie said about the honor,
“It was a relief. Exciting. Emotional….it’s always been a special feeling.”
After this, the first attacks started, prompted by Andriy Grivko (Astana). Jerome Pineau (Omega Pharma Quick Step) was next. With 7laps remaining, Jens Voigt (RadioShack) was next to attack. He was joined by Danilo Hondo (Lampre) who took the intermediate sprint.
With 6 laps left, Voigt and Hondo had a 10 second gap. A chase group of 4 joined the German duo as 4 more riders broke off the front.
With 5 laps, the groups merged, yielding a lead group of 11: Rui Costa (Movistar), Voigt, Marcus Burghardt (BMC), Sebastien Minard (AG2R), Maxim Iglinsky (Astana), Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank), Lars Bak (Lotto), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Jean-Marc Marino (Saur-Sojasun), Bram Tankink (Rabobank), and Aliaksandr Kuchynski(Katusha).
Team Sky continued to lead the peloton as Sammy Dumoulin (Cofidis) and Christophe Kern (Europcar) had mechanicals. The gap to the break went out to over 20 seconds.
With half the circuits done, Liquigas moved forward to help with the peloton’s pace-setting as Brice Feillu (Saur-sojasun) was next to have a mechanical. The gap was out to 30 seconds with 20kms remaining.
3 laps to go, Lotto moved forward to also help at the front of the peloton. This helped bring the break back inside 20 seconds, thereby prompting Voigt to increase the break’s tempo. This shred the group down to three riders in front—Minard, Voigt, and Costa.
At the start of the final lap, with 6kms to go, the gap was down to 16 seconds. Saxo Bank moved to the front of the peloton now to try to help catch the break as the sprinter teams’ trains began to form. There was a crash with 3.6kms left involving Danilo Hondo. One kilometer later, the break was caught.
In the closing 2 kms of the Tour, Sky and Liquigas were the dominant teams lining up for the sprint while Saxo Bank, Garmin, and Orica GreenEdge were also present. The yellow jersey of Wiggins led the peloton through the 1km to go banner. Mark Cavendish (Sky) opened his sprint on the final corner and withheld a surging Peter Sagan (Liquigas) to take his fourth win on the Champs-Elysees. Wiggins kept the yellow jersey, giving Team Sky an incredibly successful Tour de France. The maillot jaune remarked,
“I’ve had 24 hours for this to soak in and today we were just on a mission to finish the job off with Cav. So job done and what a way for him to finish it off. I’m still buzzing from the Champs-Elysees.”
Cavendish summarized Team Sky’s Tour as follows:
It’s incredible what we’ve achieved today – what a team. We got a one and two on GC but still we were riding to control things on the Champs-Elysees. It was an honour to have the yellow jersey leading me out. Bradley told me he’d go full gas to the last kilometre and then Edvald (Boasson Hagen) led me into the last corner. The finish couldn’t have been more perfect – no better end to this Tour.
“It’s an incredible achievement for the team. Four years ago we said we were setting out to win the Tour, but we haven’t just done that, we’ve got second place as well and a handful of stages. Seven stages have been won by British guys this year so that’s one in three – not a bad stat.”
Stage 20 Results:
|1||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling||3:08:07|
|2||Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale|
|3||Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team|
|4||Juan José Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank|
|5||Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team|
|6||Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol Team|
|7||Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team|
|8||André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team|
|9||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling|
|10||Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Saur – Sojasun|
|1||Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling||87:34:47|
|2||Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling||0:03:21|
|3||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||0:06:19|
|4||Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team||0:10:15|
|5||Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team||0:11:04|
|6||Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan||0:15:41|
|7||Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team||0:15:49|
|8||Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar||0:16:26|
|9||Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team||0:16:33|
|10||Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat||0:17:17|