Sunday, July 25, 2010
STAGE 20: CAVENDISH TAKES PARIS
Mark Cavendish, the young sprinter from Manx in Great Britain, showed for the fifth time in this Tour de France that he's the best sprinter currently competing in Pro Cycling, crossing the finish line of the final stage in Paris ahead of all rivals.
Cavendish did not win the Green Jersey for points amassed in sprints throughout the 20 stages of the Tour. That honor goes to Alessandro Pettachi, the Italian who won two stages and placed high enough in every other sprint finish to snag the jersey. But Pettachi and every other sprinter knows Cavendish is the best of the bunch.
As expected, Spaniard Alberto Contador has won his third Tour de France, his second in a row. Unexpectedly, he won it by the narrowest of margins over Andy Schleck of Luxembourg. Contador took advantage of Schleck (then wear the Yellow Jersey of the race leader) when Schleck's chain jammed at a critical moment on a mountain stage. Contador's action has raised controversy because it defied protocol: you don't attack the Yellow Jersey when he has a mechanical problem). Whether or not Contador played fair, he has been declared the champ and is due the honor.
Schleck settles for 2nd place and Best Young Rider recognition. Schleck is 25.
Team Radioshack wins the Best Team competition, with its top three finishers in each stage averaging a better time than any other team in the Tour. Radioshack is an American-based team that included three Americans of the nine-member squad: Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner.
For the last time, Lance Armstrong rolled onto the Champs Elysees as a participant in the Tour de France. Thanks for the memories and inspiration, Lance. Armstrong faced and fought through cancer, survived it, overcame its impact, and has given back like none other. He is a vigorous worldwide advocate with and for all who grapple with cancer.
Even on this last stage, Armstrong found a way for his team to highlight the challenge of fighting cancer. Team Radioshack all donned "28" jerseys for the start of the race. They were ordered to removed them (on TV) before the racing commenced. But the point was made: there are 28 million people in the world living with cancer and now's the time to intensify the fight to find cures and improve therapies.
It's been a fun three weeks. Nothing like the Tour de France. Hope you enjoyed the ride.