This is a guest post by Mr.Q, a professional quizmaster and an ardent Tour de France fan who is reporting his 4th tour
Just as I had predicted in my last post, about how Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky was going to win the last individual time trial (TT) of this year’s tour, Wiggins, blasted over the 53.5km course as if there was no tomorrow, and in the bargain, not only won his second stage of the tour, but also sealed his efforts to be the first ever British winner of the Tour de France!!
It has take 99 years for the United Kingdom, to put their one man, on the top of the podium, of the most coveted road race in the cycling world – the Tour de France. The first Brit to wear the Yellow Jersey was Tony Simpson, and he co-incidentally also happens to be Wiggin’s idol! And all this is going to happen tomorrow on the Champs-Élysées at Paris as the 3 weeks old tour finishes its 2012 edition. All barring the shouting, and without any mishaps, Bradley Wiggins should don the title, for traditionally, all hostilities between the teams come to an end on the stage before the Paris stretch, and no rider attacks the Yellow jersey on the final day.
After a spectacular ride over the 53.5km course, an elated Wiggins said, “This is what I ultimately do best: time trialing. It was a superb course and I just wanted to finish the job off in style. There was a lot of emotion in the last 10km there when I knew I was ahead. Everything was going through my mind, all the years of getting to this point, all the disappointments like crashing out of the Tour last year and watching Cadel in this very position in Grenoble; I always imagined what it would feel like and now I know what it felt like last year.”
The 19th road stage of the 99thTour de France was fromBonneval to Chartres, a distance of 53.5kms. Today’s course was not a totally flat one and there were some small climbs, something which again rode into the favour of the leaders on the board as they all were fresh after a day’s respite from the Pyrenees. For the record all the 153 riders who finished yesterday’s stage reported at the start today.
The first rider on the course was the Saur-Sojasun rider Jimmy Engoulvent, who was the holding the prestigious Lanterne Rouge spot, at the end of the race yesterday. The last placed person on the tour is by the way a notable achievement, because he is remembered by many, than the others who have finished the race but don’t have anything notable to claim than the fact that they finished, lets say as 143rd or 99th …etc !!
The first rider to make a mark on the time board was the tenth rider to start, Patrick Gretsch of Argos-Shimano’s, who set the best time at both the intermediate checkpoints. Many riders came close to beating Gretsch’s time, but failed in the final run to the finish line. Finally, it was the Spanish TT champion, Luis Leon Sanchez, who finished in a time of 1hr 6’ 03”, who beat Gretsch by 38secs.
Sanchez’s time was the mark, which stood for a long time. Actually till the final 3 minutes, for it was only when the second last rider in the form of Froome crossed the line at 1hr 05’29” that he was dethroned. (This is the second day consecutively that Team Sky was taking a victory away from the Spanish man, as they did it to him in the last stage also, as they gobbled him up in the run into the sprint finish on Stage 18, to unleash Cavendish, who won in an emphatic manner, just when Sanchez thought that he was going to win the stage!!)
While Froome, with his solid form emphasized that he was in very good shape and strong enough to win on his own, it was Wiggins who was putting in the best times of the day at all check points in his flow to the final line. In the end, he simply rode to the line a huge minute plus on the next best rider in the tour, his own team mate Chris Froome. Wiggins, stopped the clock at 1hr, 04’13”, a devastating ride by a 4 times World Champion in the Track events. With this win, Wiggins has put it beyond any discussion – on who the best rider is in the world of road racing. Hopefully, he will climb the podium tomorrow at Champs-Élysées, Paris and take the first ever Over-all Champion title of the Tour de France, across the English Channel for the first time.
The top 5 on the leader board remain the same today. With Bradley Wiggins in the Yellow Jersey, Chris Froome in the second spot followed by Nibaliat third and Jurgen van den Broeck in the fourth spot. Haimar Zubeldia of RadioShack-Nissan moves out of the top five overall and Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racing takes his place.I maintain as I said in my last post, all the jerseys have been finalized for this tour. The Yellow Jersey will be with Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky. The Green Jersey will be with Peter Sagan of Liqigas Cannondale. The White Jersey will be withTejay van Garderen of BMC Racing team, whileThomas Voeckler of Europcar takes theKing of the Mountain polka dotted Jersey. Team RadioShack-Nissan,still are the best team in the race.
Yellow Jersey of Bradley Wiggins in his final interview before the race reaches Paris was emotional and emphatic. Recounting his tougher days from the past, he said, “From the moment you start cycling as a kid, it’s about this. You get into it and everyone dreams of winning the Tour or wearing the yellow jersey at the Tour but to cross the line… well, I kind of summed it up in that punch coming across the line. The last 10 or 15 kms, I was thinking of everything really: from my childhood to this point, the days I got into cycling as a kid: my family – my mother, my wife and children, my grandfather who died two years ago… and it was all for them really. It was an incredible feeling and it was spurring me on to go harder and harder and harder. Some people in sport say, ‘You’re in the zone.’ But I was in it today in a way that I’ve never been before.”
Acknowledging the efforts of all his near and dear ones, he said, “This is everything. It’s a lifestyle. And I’ve learned to live this lifestyle, these last few years at the sacrifice of so many other things in my life, including the people around me who live with me and know me. This is as much because of their sacrifice and it’s huge. Just seeing the happiness of everyone out there today was an incredible feeling. The reason I feel like this is because I have a sense of what I’ve achieved because I know my cycling and I can’t really sum it up in articulate terms. What happened out there is just incredible!”
In the end, he summed it all with a single line,“It’s the Tour man, it doesn’t get much bigger than this!”
The 20thand final stage of TdF will be from Rambouillet to Champs-Élysées, a distance of just 120kms. Me thinks, without any doubt, it will be Team Sky, with the Yellow Jersey of Bradley Wiggins, who will lead the World Champion Mark Cavendish into the final stretch for the sprint king to claim his 4th consecutive Stage win on the Champs-Élysées.Watch this space tomorrow for the final tour update of TdF 2012…:)
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