PARIS, France (VN) — There’s still one jersey up for grabs to round out the Tour de France podium.
Pierre Rolland secured the white jersey with a strong time trial performance Saturday, but the green jersey won’t be settled until the pack roars across the finish line on the Champs-Élysées.
Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) is leading Jose Rojas (Movistar) by 15 points and expressed confidence he’s on track to win his first green jersey.
“If I have a good sprint, I should be OK,” Cavendish said. “The best way to win the green jersey is to win the stage. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Cavendish is no stranger to victory on the Champs-Élysées, having won the Tour’s final stage the past two seasons.
After surviving some hard climbing stages in the Alps — when he was time-cut but later reinstated with the rest of the gruppetto in stage 18 and 19 — Cavendish is ready to pounce in Paris.
With a 15-point lead to Rojas, Cavendish would nearly have to crash out to not bring home his first green jersey.
Yates: ‘Boasson Hagen is a beast’
Sky sport director Sean Yates says the cycling world is just starting to see how good Edvald Boasson Hagen truly is.
With two stage victories, the young Norwegian delivered on his long-hyped potential and turned those expectations into impressive victories.
Yates says Boasson Hagen is nowhere near fulfilling his potential.
“We all knew what his potential was, but now everyone is seeing it with the victories,” Yates told VeloNews. “He was able to come into this year’s Tour without any injuries. He’s just getting started.”
Yates sees Boasson Hagen, with his top finishing speed and big build, developing more into a classics/stage-hunter type of rider than one who could one day contest the overall of a three-week grand tour.
Boasson Hagen is not your typical cyclist who lives and dies for the bike. He has varied interests outside of cycling, including a growing passion for photography. Yates says that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“He doesn’t come from a cycling background, so maybe he doesn’t know a lot about the history, but he still wants to perform,” Yates said. “Now that’s he’s gotten a taste for victory in the Tour, he will be even more ambitious. He likes to work, he likes to be part of a good team. He wants to win. He’s a beast.”
Yates said Boasson Hagen’s victories helped to take the sting out of a disappointing Tour that saw the early exit of GC hopeful Bradley Wiggins. The team won two stages and held the white jersey for much of the Tour, first with Geraint Thomas and then with Rigoberto Uran.
“We’ve had some good results, so we’re content with this Tour,” Yates said. “We were still hoping for a top-10 with Uran, but you cannot have everything.”
One more year for Voigt
Jens Voigt will ride at least one more season with Leopard-Trek. Voigt told French television after finishing Saturday’s time trial that he will race the 2012 season.
Whether he’ll be back for another Tour remains to be seen. Voigt certainly has the leg power to hang in the peloton, but whether he will have the same motivation remains to be seen. It would be hard to imagine Voigt not in the Tour, however.
TT differences between Evans, Schleck
Grenoble’s showdown between Cadel Evans and Andy Schleck showed just how difficult it can be in comparing time trials from previous Tours de France.
A closer look at recent match-ups between the pair show that Schleck wasn’t always so far off the back, but race conditions and GC battles had major consequences on how riders perform.
In 2008, Schleck lost 1:02 to Evans on the 29.5km course at Cholet, which came in the first week, in stage 4, on a course designed for specialists. On the longer, 53km time trial to Saint-Amand-Montrond, Schleck lost 1:57, ceding nearly three seconds per kilometer.
Last year, Schleck was closer to Evans, losing only 37 seconds on the hilly Monaco course, which favored Schleck’s climbing legs. On the long, 40.5km route in Annecy, Schleck lost only 31 seconds, but Evans was riding with pain from a fractured left elbow, hardly ideal for concentrating on a time trial.
With everything on the line Saturday in Grenoble, Evans confirmed that he’s one of the best time trialists in the world, while Schleck showed yet again that the race against the clock is his Achilles heel.
Yellow: Cadel Evans (BMC) vaulted into the yellow jersey to all but secure Australia’s first Tour win.
Green: Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) is poised to win his first green jersey if he can win down the Champs-Elysées Sunday.
Polka-dot: Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) wrapped up the climber’s jersey Friday.
White: Pierre Rolland (Europcar) guaranteed a Frenchman a spot on the final podium after securing the young rider’s jersey in Saturday’s TT.
Team: Garmin-Cervélo all but secured its victory in the team category with 11:04 over Leopard-Trek.
No riders abandoned, 167 of 198 starters will line up for the 2011 Tour’s final stage.
Chance of afternoon showers, temperatures in mid 20s, light breeze from north.