PARIS (AFP) — Bradley Wiggins was crowned Britain’s first Tour de France champion on Sunday after helping Sky teammate Mark Cavendish to secure a fourth consecutive stage win on the world-famous Champs-Élysées in Paris.
Wiggins, who virtually sealed victory when he won his second time trial of the three-week epic on Saturday, finished the 3,479km race with a lead of three minutes and 21 seconds over British teammate Chris Froome after the 20th and last stage.
It was Isle of Man sprinter Cavendish’s fourth consecutive stage win on the Champs-Élysées, taking his tally of stage wins in this year’s race to three and to 23 overall.
“I’m more than happy,” said world champion Cavendish as he held his baby at the finish line. “The Champs-Élysées is the most beautiful avenue in the world, and I’ve won here again.”
Three years after Wiggins equaled Robert Millar’s 1984 best British finish of fourth overall, in 2009, the Londoner finally achieved his childhood dream of winning the world’s most prestigious bike race.
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) finished third overall at 6:19.
“It’s magnificent,” said Wiggins. “For us to finish like this as a team, helping Mark to victory and allowing him to defend his record here… it’s incredible.”
Team Sky achieved the rare feat of finishing one-two on the podium, the first since 1996, when Bjarne Riis finished ahead of Telekom teammate Jan Ullrich.
It is also the first time compatriots have taken the first two places since France’s Laurent Fignon finished ahead of five-time winner Bernard Hinault in the 1984 edition.
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) won the polka-dot jersey for the race’s best climber, with Peter Sagan (Liquigas) easily securing the green jersey for the points competition.
Sagan came close to claiming his fourth stage win, crossing the line just short of Cavendish after a late start. But the Slovakian was more than happy with his Tour debut.
“I came here to win a stage, so to come away with three plus the green jersey is just unbelivable,” said Sagan, who finished with a 141-point margin over Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol).
Tejay Van Garderen made up for BMC team leader Cadel Evans’ disastrous title defense by winning the race’s white jersey for the best-placed rider aged 25 and under.
Evans, who made history by becoming Australia’s first champion in 2011, eventually finished nearly 16 minutes behind Wiggins.
And RadioShack-Nissan won the team competition, despite finishing three men down.
“Winning the team classification is always special, especially with only six riders left in the race,” said Chris Horner.