Alberto Contador has been crowned Tour de France champion for the second time in three years, as Mark Cavendish won his sixth stage of this year’s race with victory in the 21st and final stage, finishing in the center of Paris.
Briton Cavendish again proved he has no equal in the bunch sprints by powering away from his rivals, after being giving a perfect lead-out by Columbia teammate Mark Renshaw, to add the ‘blue riband’ sprinters stage on the Champs-Elysees to his growing list of big race victories. Cavendish had always stated that winning on the Parisian avenue was his lifelong ambition, although his numerous victories did not prove enough for him to take the green points jersey, which was won by Norway’s Thor Hushovd — who finished sixth on the day — for the second time in his career. Hushovd, who also won the jersey in 2005, finished on 280 points, 10 points clear of Cavendish with Germany’s Gerald Ciolek third in that competition. However, Cavendish would undoubtedly have taken the honor if he had not been disqualified from the points he won on stage 14 for a dangerous sprint. Meanwhile, Contador finished safely in the bunch to add the Tour title to his victory in 2007.
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With the final stage largely ceremonial, apart from the bunch sprint at the end, Contador secured his victory by sticking closely to principle rival Andy Schleck on Saturday’s punishing penultimate stage to the top of Mont Ventoux. The Spaniard, who was prevented from competing in last year’s race because his Astana team were not invited due to doping infringements by former riders, has now claimed four successive grand tours after also winning last year’s Giro d’Italia and Vuelta Espana. Contador eventually finished four minutes and 11 seconds ahead of Schleck in the overall standings with teammate and seven-times champion Lance Armstrong 5:24 behind in third place.
Armstrong’s astonishing performance, in his first Tour since claiming his seventh successive victory in 2005, proved one of the stories of the race — even if stories of internal strife between the American and Contador dominated proceedings for the majority of the race. Schleck collected the white jersey for the best young rider, by way of a consolation prize, while Italian Franco Pellizotti claimed the polka dot jersey for the best climber of the race.