British Cyclist Wins Tour de France
By Samuel Petrequin 23 July 2012
PARIS—Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France by protecting the yellow jersey during Sunday’s final processional ride into Paris. He also helped Sky teammate Mark Cavendish earn his fourth straight sprint victory on the Champs-Elysees.
Wiggins secured his win with a dominating performance in Saturday’s final time trial to extend his already commanding lead. Fellow Briton and Sky teammate Christopher Froome finished second, 3 minutes, 21 seconds behind overall. Vincenzo Nibali of Italy finished third, 6:19 off the pace.
“It’s been a magical couple of weeks for the team and for British cycling,” Wiggins said. “Some dreams come true. My mother over there, she’s now—her son has won the Tour de France.”
The last time two riders from the same nation finished first and second in the Tour was in 1984, when Frenchman Laurent Fignon defeated Bernard Hinault.
Wiggins congratulated his teammates after crossing the line, gave a big hug to his wife and clutched the hands of their children.
The 32-year-old lanky Londoner blew kisses and bowed to a sea of union jacks.
After a soprano sang “God Save The Queen”, Wiggins thanked the crowd with a touch of British humor.
“Cheers, have a safe journey home, don’t get too drunk,” said Wiggins, who wrote in his autobiography about overcoming drinking problems after his early successes in the Velodrome.
Cavendish claimed his 23rd Tour stage win and third this year. He also became the first reigning world champion to win on the Champs-Elysees.
As expected, Wiggins repaid Cavendish for his efforts earlier in the race and led the Sky train in the final mile of the 74-mile stage before leaving his place to Edvald Boasson Hagen, who delivered a perfect lead-out for Cavendish.
Cavendish accelerated coming out of the final corner, never looked back and raised four fingers as he crossed the line.
The seven stage wins was a record haul for British riders in the Tour, beating the previous record of six stage wins in 2009—when all were won by Cavendish.
This time the victories were divided up between Cavendish (3), Wiggins (2), David Millar (1) and Froome (1).
Wiggins and his teammates were at the font of the pack as it arrived on the streets of Paris for eight laps of a 4-mile circuit on the Champs-Elysees.
Veteran rider George Hincapie, competing in his 17th consecutive and final Tour, led the peloton onto the prestigious avenue alongside fellow American Chris Horner.
With Sky determined to help Cavendish secure a fourth consecutive win in Paris, Horner and Hincapie were immediately reined in. Several other riders tried to break away but the peloton was not ready to give them any slack as the race passed some of the capital’s most iconic monuments such as the Louvre museum, the Eiffel tower and the Place de la Concorde.
Six riders including Jens Voigt of Germany finally escaped from the back with 18 miles to go. They had a maximum lead of 30 seconds but were progressively reeled in as Liquigas and Sky organized the chase.