The Tour de France is about glory and it's about pain. This year it was also about crashes with several top contenders having to abandon. In the end, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was the man who went home with the yellow jersey and all the bragging rights, at least until next July.
Our latest photo gallery highlights some of the key moments of this year’s Grand Tour, including Nibali’s win during stage 2 into Sheffield along with his commanding performance on the cobbles during the fifth stage, won by Belkin’s Lars Boom.
The Italian only lost the race lead for one day to Tony Gallopin of Lotto-Belisol, who gained time from a successful breakaway during the ninth stage into Mulhouse, a stage won by Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s Tony Martin. He landed the yellow jersey again after he won on La Planche des Belles Filles during stage 10, and he went on to win two more stages in the mountains; stage 13 to Chamrousse and stage 18 on Hautacam.
Nibali, Boom and Martin were some of the first riders to capitalize off of breakaway opportunities but there were plenty more to be had during the three-week race. Ag2r-La Mondiale’s Blel Kadri took a solo win on stage 12 to La Mauselaine and Gallopin went on to win stage 11 into Oyonnax. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Rafal Majka won stage 14 into Risoul and stage 17 on the Pla d’Adet, and also won the mountains competition, while his teammate Michael Rogers took the stage 16 win in Luchon. Although Garmin-Sharp’s team leader Andrew Talansky abandoned the race due to injuries from a crash, his teammate Ramunas Navardauskas soloed to the stage 19 win in Bergerac.
There was a lot of anticipation around the event’s only individual time trial as a possible place to gain or lose time in the overall classification. Martin took a commanding win in the 54km race held from Bergerac to Périgueux while Nibali solidified his yellow jersey victory ahead of Frenchmen Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) in the overall classification.
The excitement of the race started and ended with bunch sprint finishes in both Yorkshire and Paris with Marcel Kittel taking those wins. He was victorious in the stage 1 sprint and wore the first yellow jersey of the race for his Giant-Shimano team. The German sprinter went on to win three more bunch sprints during stage 3 in London, stage 4 in Lille Métropole and the finale stage 21 on the Champs-Élysées.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s Mark Cavendish crashed out of the race during stage 1 but there were a handful of other sprinters in the race who took home victories. Lotto-Belisol’s André Greipel won stage 6 into Reims, Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s Matteo Trentin won stage 7 into Nancy and Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff won stage 12 into Saint-Étienne and stage 15 into Nîmes.
Although Cannondale’s Peter Sagan was denied a victory at this year’s Tour, he celebrated his overall win in the green jersey competition.
Team Sky’s Chris Froome went into the race as the defending champion and one of the favorites to win the overall title for a second year but he abandoned during the cobbled stage 5 after several earlier crashes and he fractured his wrist and hand. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador was also forced to abandon after a crash on a descent during stage 10, and he is recovering from a fractured tibia.
Click here for a special gallery of images from Tim de Waele recapping this year's action.