Tour de France 2012: Allez, allez!

Barring outrageous fortune, Bradley Wiggins will become the first ever British winner of the Tour de France this afternoon.

It’s been a dominant performance by Wiggins and Team Sky, emphasised by his stamping his authority on this year’s race with a second stage win in yesterday’s 53.5km individual time trial.  That result, 1 minute 16 seconds ahead of his second-placed team-mate, the Kenyan-born British rider, Chris Froome, silenced the critics who had speculated that Froome, who will finish second overall, was the stronger rider.  Not this year.

Here’s the Guardian’s video report of yesterday’s stage.

Placed second in the opening time-trial by just 7 seconds behind perennial prologue winner Fabian Cancellara, Wiggins weathered the first week of sprint finishes and crashes which saw 20 riders withdraw with broken bones – just as Wiggins had done last year.  During that first week, Manx missile Mark Cavendish, also now on Team Sky, grabbed his 21st stage victory in Tournais.

On the 7th Stage, 199km from Tomblaine to a mountain-top finish at La Planche des Belles Filles, Sky demonstrated their strength in depth on the final climb – dropping potential race challengers along the way, with the exception of last year’s winner Cadel Evans and Vincenzo Nibali.  Chris Froome took his first stage win, Evans was second, but third-placed Wiggins lost no time to the duo and took over the maillot jaune.

It hasn’t left his shoulders since.

Evans’ challenge faded in the Alps with a particularly bad day on the final climb of stage 11.

Vincenzo Nibali briefly threatened, but was spent by the time the Tour traversed the Pyrenees and he fell further behind on stage 17.

In the absence of his injured brother Andy, a disappointing Franck Shleck withdrew from the Tour, after 15 stages, after testing positive for a specified substance, the diuretic Xipamide.

Wiggins will lead the Tour onto the Champs-Élysées by 3 minutes 21 seconds from Froome, Nibali is 6 minutes 19 seconds back.

Overall, Sky riders have won 5 stages so far.  Wiggins two, Froome one, and Mark Cavendish two.  His second came in a thrilling peloton chase and catch of a small group, including Irish rider Nicolas Roche, within sight of the line on stage 18.  And Cavendish has his sights on a historic fourth win on the Champs-Élysées in four years.  The possibility exists of current world champion Cavendish being led out on the final sprint by the yellow jerseyed Wiggins.

Last year’s hero Tomas Voeckler takes the polka-dot jersey as King of the Mountains.  Peter Sagan, in his first Tour, has the green points jersey.  Nicolas Roche, son of Ireland’s only Tour de France winner Stephen, will finish in 12th place overall.

It could be the start of the reign of Team Sky.

Update Mark Cavendish wins the final stage of the 2012 Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées. His fourth final stage win in a row, and 23rd stage win in total.

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  • lamhdearg2

    Great performance, ruined only (for me) by the sponsor.

  • carnmoney.guy

    ….. the Kenyan-born British rider, Chris Froome….

    Why highlight that when Bradley is Belgian ??

  • bt48

    Being born in a stable does not make one a horse

  • dwatch

    This was a great win for UK. Have Ireland nobody to follow in Stephen Roche’s name in the Tour De France in the near future?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Roche

  • Dec

    Congratulations to Wiggins who truly dominated the race but I fear the hyperbole is running out of control:

    ‘The greatest performance by a British sportsmen ever!’

    Really, Chris Hoy?

  • john

    dwatch – There is his son Nicolas who finished 12th and he finished somehere similar last year so not bad also Daniel Martin finished a respectable 35th

  • Pete Baker

    Carmoney

    I could also have mentioned the fact that Nicolas Roche was born in France. But I didn’t. Of course, he never rode for France. Or at least, apparently, not entirely willingly.

    Froome on the other hand…

    And, of course, Bradley Wiggins left Belgium aged 2 when his mother returned to London. His father, Gary Wiggins, was an Australian pro cyclist.

    john

    Nicolas Roche finished 26th last year, 46 minutes 23 seconds behind Evans.

    This year he was 12th in the GC, 19 minutes 33 seconds behind Wiggins.

  • http://nicentreright.wordpress.com/ Seymour Major

    I have been following the toor addictively since stage 4. In that time, I have gained a bit of an insight about the sport.

    A cyclist cannot win the Tour without a team working with him. Sky Pro cycling and its team of riders also deserves a lot of praise, despite the misgivings of some. The have put together a team that has raised the bar in sports management and professionalism. They look set to dominate the sport for years to come.

    That is to take nothing away from Wiggins’ feat. He is a supremely gifted athlete. He has worked exceptionally hard. He has followed the best advice there is and he has used the team resources intelligently. He deserves all the accolades and honours coming his way.

  • Zig70

    The whole British cycling team storming ahead of everyone else and now on the professional circuit. Bit of a Ben Johnson moment? Cycling is continual dogged with claims that it is the chemists who are the real talent.

  • http://nicentreright.wordpress.com/ Seymour Major

    Zig70,

    “Bit of a Ben Johnston moment?”

    Cycling has been dogged with drug scandals in recent years but I think the sport has largely cleaned up its act and any cheats left are being caught.

    Meanwhile, the Sky riders have a clean record and in the absense of a negative doping test, it is unfair on them to even question it.

  • Pete Baker

    “A cyclist cannot win the Tour without a team working with him. Sky Pro cycling and its team of riders also deserves a lot of praise, despite the misgivings of some.”

    Indeed, Seymour. Sky, and in particular Dave Brailsford, have assembled a formidable team.

    “Meanwhile, the Sky riders have a clean record and in the absense of a negative doping test, it is unfair on them to even question it.”

    Quite. And as the maillot jaune Wiggins has been tested more than most of the competitors.

    He was 4th in the GC in 2009, after all. As well as being a repeat Olympic gold medalist.

    Here’s an interesting take on this year’s race, and what lies ahead

    In terms of hitting the high spots with the British public, no disrespect to Froome, but Wiggins is the better name to be the first Briton to win the Tour.

    However, I think Team Sky are professional enough to choose the best man to try and win the Tour and I would expect them to do the same next year.

    It will be the 100th edition of the Tour and I don’t think Team Sky would definitely put Wiggins in to defend his title if the course doesn’t suit him as much as Froome. Team Sky are professional enough to go with the best man.

    This year the race organisers opted for longer individual time trial stages and cut out some of the big mountain climbs, going for shorter, steeper climbs in the hope of making the race as fair as possible for all the potential winners.

    It hasn’t worked but the organisers could not account for how strong Team Sky were going to be or know they would dominate the race in the way they did.

  • http://diaryarticles.blogspot.com/ articles

    Bit of a one trick pony if you ask me.

  • Pete Baker

    Nobody did, articles.

  • Mister_Joe

    articles,

    It is a great personal achievement for the man and I don’t understand why you would try to put him down. If you can’t say anything good……

  • Rory Carr

    Being born in a stable does not make one a horse

    Bit of a one trick pony if you ask me.”

    Seems like a couple of punters (lacking imagination as well as direction) have strayed in from a post mortem on the King George VI at Ascot on Saturday.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Well done to Bradley Wiggins. Can’t say I’m a Tour De France fan for many years.

    “Have Ireland nobody to follow in Stephen Roche’s name in the Tour De France in the near future?”

    I think this is the problem for sport across all of Ireland, Dwatch.

    We try to dip our feet in too many waters. How can we have top class footballers, rugby players, golfers, jockeys, athletes, boxers etc. along with the Gaelic and Hurling teams on an island of over 6m. England can barely do it with 50m plus.

  • john

    Pete Baker
    “john

    Nicolas Roche finished 26th last year, 46 minutes 23 seconds behind Evans.”

    It must have been the year before then I definitely remember him finishing near the top ten. Dont know if he has what it takes or the team for that matter to improve much though!

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    sensational result and don’t forget cavendish. can’t wait to the olympics now. some finish to the british open too. golf is one cruel game

  • veryoldgit

    Bradley Wiggins had an English mother and moved to England when he was two. That makes him English in my book.
    While we are on the subject of where people were born, wasn’t St Patrick a Welshman?

  • http://diaryarticles.blogspot.com/ articles

    Methinks I am more sinned against than sinning. Consider instead if I had dismissed a more established global superstar say Usain  Bolt as “only a one trick pony” you just might have recognised the attempt at humour but in your zeal to repel any perceived diminution of Bradley’s achievements and right an apparent injustice, you chose to get on your high horses. About par for Norn Iron and Slugger but on this occasion you backed the wrong horses.

    So citizens I ask again “Just what else has he done?”

  • Rory Carr

    While we are on the subject of where people were born, wasn’t St Patrick a Welshman?

    Well, the thing is, we don’t really know, so we leave it to people’s own prejudices to decide where he may have been born.

    It’s a bit like when a nurse asks,

    “…and when where you born?”

    I invariably reply,

    “I don’t know. I was only a wee baby at the time. Better ask me mammy.”

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    ‘So citizens I ask again “Just what else has he done?”’
    for anyone who can’t successfully google wiki:

    He currently rides for Team Sky. His career began on the track, where he specialised in the pursuit and madison disciplines, and has gradually moved towards road racing. Wiggins won a bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics, three further medals at the 2004 Summer Olympics, and two golds at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Wiggins’ haul of six Olympic medals, which includes three gold medals, make him the sixth most successful British Olympian and is the most bemedalled British Olympian alongside Steve Redgrave with six medals.[2] In road cycling he turned professional in 2002, but his involvement was limited by his track cycling until 2007.
    After the 2008 Olympics, Wiggins took a break from the track to focus on the road. Initially viewed as a time-trial specialist and a rouleur, Wiggins showed his ability in stage races when he came in fourth at the 2009 Tour de France, then the joint highest placed finish by a British rider in Tour history. In 2010 he was hired as the leader for the new Team Sky, and won the opening stage of the Giro d’Italia.
    Wiggins’ first major stage race victory came at Critérium du Dauphiné in 2011. Wiggins finished 3rd in the 2011 Vuelta a España, becoming one of three British riders to make the podium in a Grand Tour. Ten days later, Wiggins won the silver medal in the time trial at the 2011 UCI Road World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.
    In 2012, Wiggins demonstrated excellent form to win the 2012 Paris–Nice, the 2012 Tour de Romandie, and retained his Critérium du Dauphiné title, before becoming the first British rider to win the Tour de France.

  • http://diaryarticles.blogspot.com/ articles

    ..but apart from being able to ride a bike what has he done?

  • dwatch

    dwatch – “There is his son Nicolas who finished 12th and he finished somehere similar last year so not bad also Daniel Martin finished a respectable 35th”

    Thanks john, good to here we have two entrants from Ireland.
    What team do they ride with? Surely we have enought cyclists to form a team for the whole of Ireland both North & South.

  • dwatch

    ..but apart from being able to ride a bike what has he done?

    He has grown a right pair of sideburns. Were they not all the hair style rage in the 19th century? Wonder if the girls like it?

  • Drumlins Rock

    future bright, with that record surely he would be in the running to light the Olympic flame? Would sort out the Redgrave/Thompson row !

  • Mister_Joe

    Feeling oppressed enough yet, articles? Why don’t you tell us about your achievements.

  • tyrone_taggart

    articles (profile) 23 July 2012 at 11:06 am
    “..but apart from being able to ride a bike what has he done?”

    The French like him. He is British. Can he walk on water?

  • http://diaryarticles.blogspot.com/ articles

    You’re asking about my achievements Joe, but before I answer you’re not one of them celebrity stalkers are you?

  • HeinzGuderian

    sensational result and don’t forget cavendish. can’t wait to the olympics now. some finish to the british open too. golf is one cruel game
    …………………………………………

    No such tournament as The British Open.
    It’s THE Open !!
    The original tournament needs no prefix. ;-)

  • Mister_Joe

    Ha ha, articles.
    The biggest achievements any person has are, I believe, in their personal lives, not in the public sphere.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    You really think so Joe? A lot of people say that but I have my doubts.

  • Mister_Joe

    Well, the future’s bright, the future’s orange,

    When your cycling/running/leaping etc days are done, which are you going to take pleasure from? The memory of a medal or the love of your family and friends?

  • Zig70

    Voigt is the true hero

    “pain is just weakness leaving the body”

    http://bicycling.com/blogs/hardlyserious/

    http://www.itv.com/tourdefrance/news/cult-cycling-hero-jens-voigt-talks-to-ned-boulting/

    It’s the cleanest tour ever, how else would I be able to keep up”. A real joker.

    The tour is very much a team game as Lance found to his cost.
    I love sport and even cycling but not a fan of professional cycling and dubious about it’s crossover into the olympics.

  • http://nicentreright.wordpress.com/ Seymour Major

    Since this post was written, Wiggins has now added another Olympic Gold to his previous list of achievements.

    The guy is awesome.