Victorians hail ‘greatest sporting achievement’ while Englishman Mark Cavendish aims for green jersey.
|Evans toasts his team manager during the final stage a day after taking the yellow jersey for the first time [Reuters]|
Cadel Evans finished with the peloton to become the first Australian to win the Tour de France as Mark Cavendish won the stage to take the sprint king’s green jersey.
Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck was second overall with his brother Frank taking third place – the first time the siblings have climbed the podium together.
The 34-year-old Evans, the oldest Tour winner since World War II, showed resilience throughout as he broke three-times champion Alberto Contador’s unbeaten run in a grand tour since 2007.
Frank Schleck was third, 2:30 off the pace as two brothers climbed on the final Tour de France podium for the first time.
“Thank you to everyone who supported me, my teammates, my rivals, everyone for this incredible experience,” said Evans, who won one stage during the race, after stepping on the podium on the Champs-Elysees.
“Thank you for that fantastic race. It was a wonderful experience. I couldn’t be happier. I had been thinking about this for 20 years.”
Evans’s victory also broke Spanish domination of the race after Alberto Contador, Oscar Pereiro and Carlos Sastre had claimed five titles in a row.
“Cadel deserved to win. Second place in the Tour is not nothing and being with my broher on the podium is a family’s dream”
Andy Schleck, Leopard Trek rider
The Australian only took the overall leader’s yellow jersey after Saturday’s final time trial in which he humbled Andy Schleck by 2:31, easily overcoming a 57-second deficit.
“Cadel deserved to win. Second place in the Tour is not nothing and being with my broher on the podium is a family’s dream. Our parents are proud of us,” said Andy Schleck.
Cavendish was also made to wait to finally claim the green jersey for the points classification after starting the day with a 15-point advantage over Spain’s Jose Roaquin Rojas.
He won the bunch sprint at the end of the 95km ride from Creteil after once again benefiting from his HTC-Highroad team’s lead-out train.
The Englishman beat Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen and German Andre Greipel, who were second and third respectively.
Cavendish became only the second Briton to step on to the Tour de France podium.
Robert Millar, from Scotland, made history when he won the race’s polka dot jersey in 1984, when he also finished a British-best fourth overall.
While Millar’s fourth place finish was equalled by Londoner Bradley Wiggins in 2009, Cavendish becomes the first ever Briton to win the green jersey.
Although coveted by the sprinters, it rewards the rider who dominates the competition for points, which can be pocketed at intermediate sprints and the finish line of most stages.
Cavendish, who narrowly missed winning the prize the past two years, made the green jersey his main objective this year and secured it comfortably after dominating the field for the third successive year on the Champs Elysees.
After a dramatic few days in the mountains, when he and dozens of other non-climbers twice came close to missing the stage cut-off time and being thrown off the race, Cavendish took a 15-point lead over Spaniard Jose Joaquin Rojas into the final stage over 95km from Creteil to Paris.
Garmin-Cervelo, who won the team time trial and stages through American Tyler Farrar and Norwegian Thor Hushovd, won the team standings.
Frenchman Pierre Rolland, who won the prestigious stage to l’Alpe d’Huez, claimed the white jersey for the best under-25 rider while Spaniard Samuel Sanchez won the polka-dot jersey for the best climber.