Mark Cavendish has won the final stage of the Tour de France, sprinting through the Champs-Élysées to claim his sixth stage win of the event.
As expected, Alberto Contador claimed his second Tour De France victory overnight, with Andy Schleck in second spot and Seven-time winner Lance Armstrong rounding out the top three.
For Contador, this years tour proved to be much more difficult than his first tour win in 2007.
“It has been an especially difficult Tour for me, but I savour it and it is more special because of it,” the Spaniard said.
The final stage has always been about celebrating the arrival to Paris and enjoying the finishing stages of the tiring journey, with the fight for the yellow jersey already concluded.
With all the main contenders taking a back seat, it was the sprinters who took center stage. The two-way battle for the green jersey between Thor Hushhovd and Mark Cavendish was the focal point, with only 25 points separating the duo.
In a race for the finishing line, Aussie Mark Renshaw played the ultimate team role, breaking in front and providing a slipstream for Cavendish to sprint to victory.
However, it was not enough to pinch the points jersey, with Thor Hushovd finishing in sixth spot to hold a slender lead of 10 points and be crowned the Tour’s best sprinter for the second time.
In the climbers’ category, Italian Franco Pellizotti took the title as this year’s king of the mountain, and also claimed the prize for most combative rider.
Luxemburg’s Andy Schleck took out the white jersey for the second year running, stamping himself as the events best young rider. His brother and Saxo-Bank teammate, Frank, finished fifth in the overall classification just behind Britain’s Bradley Wiggins in fourth spot.
Team Astana, led by Contador and Armstrong, was the overall leader in the team standings, 22’35” ahead of the Garmin-Slipstream team.
It was, however, American Lance Armstrong who stole the limelight with his courageous podium finish in his return to cycling after three and a half years. The 37 year-old has already announced he will return to France next year, but this time with his own team, Team Radioshack.
“RadioShack has agreed to partner with us on this venture and ensure that this partnership and this team stays alive for years to come, continues to be at the head of the peloton,” Armstrong said.
“It’s a huge opportunity for us as an organization and as a cancer survivor. It’s pretty mega.”