The 102 kilometer 20th and final stage of the Tour meandered from Longjumeau to Paris, ending with eight laps around Paris through the Place de la Concorde and down the famous boulevard, the Champs-Elysees.
The peloton took a leisurely spin through the French countryside and the Southern outskirts of Paris, as is the custom on the final stage of the Tour. The traditional Champagne was served to third time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and his Astana team as the team managers congratulated from their cars.
Alberto Contador of Spain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, flashes three fingers for his third Tour de France victory.
AP Photo/Christophe Ena
As the peloton meandered, Contador and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) made a show for the cameras attacking each other, sprinting and giving each other taunting looks. Ironically, during this game, Schleck's chain fell off again as it did in Stage 15 when he lost 39 seconds to Contador. Schleck was forced to drop back to the team car and make a bike change. No time was lost in the overall this time around everyone slowed down.
Let the Racing Begin
Once the peloton arrived in Paris the racing began. A 12-man breakaway which included Lance Armstrong formed with 35 kilometers remaining and they managed to collaborate well on the eight laps of the Champs-Elysees to keep their lead at a steady 20 seconds.
With 12 kilometers to go the lead dropped to 16 seconds, and with the lack of faith in their ability to go all the way came the first attack off the front from German Christian Knees of Milram. That left seven riders in front, but three kilometres further on Armstrong's bid to close his 17-year acquaintance with the race in style was dashed when he was dropped.
A leading trio of Knees, Dutch veteran Karsten Kroon and Dane Nicki Sorensen began the last lap with a 14 second lead on the peloton and 7 kilometers to race. That lasted until Lampre took control of the race and ensured the sprinters would have their day. Cavendish simply sped by the others to take his 15th stage win in his Tour de France career.
"It's one of the most beautiful feelings in the world, winning on the Champs Elysees," said Cavendish, who comes from the Isle of Man. "I didn't have the best start to the race but once we got that first stage win we went on a roll.
"It's a roller coaster of emotions racing the Tour de France. For me it's the most beautiful event in the world."
Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) came across the line in second and retained the green jersey, with Julian Dean (Garmin-Transitions) in third and Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) in 7th.
The Final Jerseys
Contador won his third Tour de France and the coveted yellow jersey. "I had some tough moments on this year's race, as much from a mental as physical point of view," said Contador, who has now won five Grand Tours after his Tour of Spain and Tour of Italy wins in 2008. "I think that managing to cope during those days was the reason I won the Tour. I suffered a lot to get this result. Words don't explain what it means to me."
Andy Schleck took his third white jersey of the young rider competition and Anthony Charteau (Bbox- Bouygues Telecom) won the polka dots of the climbers. Petacchi won the green jersey of the sprinters. Team RadioShack took the team prize giving Lance Armstrong his final opportunity to stand on the podium in Paris as a competitor in the Tour de France.
Stage 20 Results
- Mark Cavendish (THR) - 02:42:21
- Alessandro Petacchi (LAM) +00:00
- Julian Dean (GRM) +00:00
- Jurgen Roelandts (OLO) +00:00
- Oscar Freire (RAB) +00:00
- Gerald Ciolek (MRM) +00:00
- Alberto Contador (AST) 91:58:48
- Andy Schleck (SAX) +00:39
- Denis Menchov (RAB) +02:01
- Samuel Sanchez (EUS) +03:40
- Jurgen Van Den Broeck (OLO) +06:54
- Robert Gesink (RAB) +09:31
10. Christopher Horner (RSH) +12:02
13. Levi Leipheimer (RSH) +14:40
23. Lance Armstrong (RSH) +39:20
59. George Hincapie (BMC) +01:46:50
Overall Points Standings
- Alessandro Petacchi (LAM) - 243 Points
- Mark Cavendish (THR) - 232 Points
- Thor Hushovd (CTT) - 222 Points
King of the Mountains Jersey
- Anthony Charteau (BBO) - 143 Points
- Christophe Moreau (GCE) - 128 Points
- Andy Schleck (SAX) - 116 Points
Best Young Rider
- Andy Schleck (SAX) - 91:59:27
- Robert Gesink (RAB) +08:52
- Roman Kreuziger (LIQ) +11:15
Complete Standings on LeTour.fr
102.5K (63.7 miles) - Sunday July 25
- This is the shortest stage on the 2010 Tour
- The Tour has been finishing on the Champs-Elysees since 1975
Image courtesy of www.letour.com
Image courtesy of www.letour.com