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Tour de France 2012: Stage 20

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Hello and welcome to the last stage of this year's Tour de France, the last 120km kilometres of what's been an epic race over the last three weeks. The riders are within touching distance of the final finish in Paris so join us for complete coverage of today's stage, right here on Cyclingnews.com

We're currently in Rambouillet for the start of stage 20. The sky is blue, the Sky bus is yellow, so are the team cars in fact, as Bradley Wiggins closes in on a historic win in the Tour de France.

Today's procession to Paris, before the coronation of a new Tour winner is about 10 minutes away from starting. The route, we'll it's rather just symbolic.

The format is the traditional one: an easy start, a very fast entry onto the finishing circuit and eight very high-speed laps, followed by the most watched sprint of the year.

Greipel:

Part celebration, part flat-out sprint, it’s the one all the fast guys want. If it’s tight for the green jersey the stakes will be even higher. Hopefully, I’ll slingshot off Greg Henderson’s wheel 150m from the line for the win

 

To win, Greipel will need to get the better of Mark Cavendish, who has never lost the final stage in Paris,  and has three wins to his name on the Champs Élysées.

The World Champion has won two breathtaking stages in this year's Tour, to Greipel's 3. Peter Sagan, the winner of the green jersey is on 3 too, while Matt Goss is yet to open his account. This is his final chance.

Check out @cyclingthealps preview of stage 20 from Rambouillet to Paris. Explore the route on a Google Map, with a Google Earth Tour or cycle it virtually! Watch profiles, Street View tours, detailed Google Earth tours and a lot more of each climb.
 

Personally, a big thanks to CyclingtheAlps for providing us with such great information throughout the Tour. Chapeau, sir.

Just a note: if Sky win today, with Cavendish taking the stage, Wiggins the overall they'll have 40 wins this season, one more than QuickStep, who after dominating in the sprint, have faded.

Prudhomme has called Wiggins's win a new era in cycling. You can check out his comments here.

While you can also join our Facebook mass debate where we're discussing Wiggins's place among the greatest British sporting stars: Redgrave, Christie, Coe, Bobby Charlton, Paul Bettany who won Wimbledon, in that film aptly named, Wimbledon....

In other news we've  a video with Cadel  Evans, the out-going Tour champion. Bravo to Australian for putting up a good fight in this year's race. The legs just haven't been the same though.

And of course there's our video preview of today's stage with Chris Boardman. It's the last one in the series.

They're off! The riders leaving the start and rolling towards Paris. Wiggins is on the front, chatting with Stuart O'Grady.

All the Sky riders have been given yellow Oakleys. Please don't expect any major action for a while...

RT @dnlbenson: Sørensen Awarded Super Combative Title At Tour de France (very well deserved) | http://t.co/EzkStD50 http://t.co/EBrHcV6R

@SportfulNEWS Sun, 22nd Jul 2012 08:51:10

Wiggins has moved off the front and now it's the chance for Peter Sagan to move to the front. The Liquigas rider has been so impressive in this year's race: whether it's been his sprinting, his 1000Watts power output, his climbing or his victory celebrations.

Sagan is having a chat with Froome at the moment. As white jersey winner Van Garderen moves to the front of the bunch as well.

Wiggins and Evans pose for the photographers and share a few words.

The Tour leader is just sitting at the back of the bunch at the moment. He's come back through the cars but he's in no hurry to move up.

111km remaining from 120km

Basso and Brajkovic sit on the front of the bunch. Basso has  ridden well as a super domestique for Nibali in the race, while the Astana leader has cracked the top ten for the first time in a Tour de France.

The entire Sky team seem to be forming at the back of the bunch for some photos.

Only two men pulled on yellow in this year's Tour. The first was Fabian Cancellara, who won the opening prologue in Liege. Wiggins finished second, while Tony Martin was ruled out with a flat.

Peter Sagan won the following stage to Seraing out sprinting Cancellara and Edvald Boasson Hagen. Luis Leon Sanchez crashed hard and was taken to hospital but came back and raced the next stage. More on him later.

It was the Sagan show again on stage 3 with the Liquigas rider showing a clean pair of heels to Boasson Hagen again, while a mass-pile up inside the final 20km help up a number of riders, including Daniel Martin and Matt Goss. Sivtsov crashed out of the race.

Greipel ruled in Rouen, after a perfect lead out from his Lotto teammates. It was only the Germans' second ever stage win in the Tour de France. Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw both crashed inside the final 5km.

Greipel won again the next day, with another sprint finish in Saint-Quentin. He took advantage of a flat and fast run-in and swooped very late to deny Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), JJ Haedo (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) and Mark Cavendish (Sky). It was also the day that Farrar crashed and then tried to board the Argos team bus.

Stage 6 was dubbed the Metz massacre after a huge crash in the final 25km. Frank Schleck and host of other riders lost time but the worst luck fell to Garmin, who saw Hesjedal crash and pull out the next morning. Almost their entire team hit the tarmac. Rabobank had similar problems, while Sagan won again.

Stage 7 saw the first genuine uphill finish with Sky leading a 1-3 with Froome and Wiggins. Evans put in a decent showing and nabbed second, while Cancellara lost his race lead.

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 4:58:35
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:02
3 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:07
5 Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:00:19
6 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:44
7 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:46
8 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team
9 Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:00:50
10 Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:56

Stage 8 saw Pinot raise French hopes with a fabulous stage win. Madiot screamed, Pinot sizzled as the GC contenders finished together.

Stage 9 to Besançon. Perhaps the day the Tour was won, with Wiggins putting time into all his major rivals and winning his first ever Tour de France stage. Froome was second, Cancellara third while Nibali put in a decent showing. Van Garderen - like he had in the time trial - put Evans to  the sword, with the Australian slipping further down the GC battle.

Stage 10: Just as the Tour de France was shaping up as a huge let-down for the Europcar team, their irrepressible leader, Thomas Voeckler, produced an astonishing performance to take victory after a riveting stage through the Jura massif to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine.

The strongest member of a five-man group who had initially been part of a much larger pack of two dozen riders that broke clear in a frantic opening hour, Voeckler initiated his winning move 1.5km from the line. With Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) already making a lone bid for glory and being pursued by Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan), Voeckler accelerated away from Luis León Sánchez (Rabobank) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre) and set off after the two ahead.

The Frenchman was on and then past them in seconds. Although the final kilometre-long drag up to the line must have seemed never ending to Voeckler, none of the four riders chasing behind looked likely to prevent him giving the home nation their second success of the race following Thibaut Pinot’s victory in Porrentruy. Having led the race over the final two climbs of the day, Voeckler also took the lead in the mountains classification.

Stage 11 to La Toussuire saw Rolland win but the action came with two climbs to go when Evans attacked. It was a bold move but it backfired when the Australian was caught and then dropped on the final climb. Wiggins looked strong but Froome looked even better. Pinot again impressed as Sky moved into a 1-2 position on GC

1 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 4:43:54
2 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:00:55
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:00:57
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
6 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling
7 Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank 0:01:08

David Millar turned back the clock, 9 nine years after his last road stage in the Tour to win in Annonay Davézieux. The win rescued Garmin's Tour and it was refreshing to hear a winner talk opening and frankly about his past after the finish.

On stage 13 to Le Cap d’Agde Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) took his third stage win at the 2012 Tour de France, winning a photo finish over Peter Sagan of Liquigas-Cannondale. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) took third in the mass sprint.

The stage to Foix saw one of the best breaks in the race form but it was Luis Leon Sanchez who took the glory with a superb ride. Behind him there was chaos with Evans puncturing on the top of the final climb, and on the descent. A number of other riders punctured and crashed, with tacks being thrown on the road.

Another stage, another break and another classy win: this time for Fedrigo in Pau.  Vande Velde finished second for Garmin.

Stage 16 saw Voeckler win his second stage of the race and take back the KOM from Kessiakoff:

It was a a masterful performance: The 33-year-old Frenchman emerged from a massive 38-rider early break to solo to victory on a legendary Pyrenean parcours, taking in the Col d'Aubisque, Col du Tourmalet, Col d'Aspin and Col de Peyresourde, and arrived at the finish with a 1:40 lead over former breakaway companion Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank).

Valverde won the next day, surviving a long breakaway to take the stage. Froome and Wiggins left all of their rivals behind, while Nibali had originally put his team on the front to try and unsettle Sky. It didn't really work and in the end the Italian cracked.

Mark  Cavendish picked up his second stage win of the race in Brive-la-Gaillarde. The world champion showed his tactical nous to reel in a late break and to beat Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) and Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) on the line.

And in yesterday's time trial Wiggins crushed all that was before him.

And here's where we stand on GC:

1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 84:26:31
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:03:21
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:06:19
4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:10:15
5 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:11:04
6 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:15:43
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:15:51
8 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:16:31
9 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:16:38
10 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:17:17

The peloton have now, finally entered Paris.

51km remaining from 120km

51 kilometres to go with Sky starting to move Wiggins closer to the front. Were close to the intermediate sprint.

They ride passed Norwegian corner - they love their flag, don't they? As Sky take control of the bunch. But they allow George Hincapie to take over and lead the bunch. And he's attacked with Chris Horner. That's a nice move from Sky to allow Hincapie that freedom in his final Tour de France.

The American duo have been caught and now a few riders, almost in the gutter try and attack.

The riders have started the circuit, eight laps to go until the finish. #tdf

@itvcycling Sun, 22nd Jul 2012 15:23:09

A number of teams without a stage, and they've tried to throw men up the road: Saur, Cofidis, AG2R but it's going to be so hard to stay away, at the moment the bunch aren't even letting anything go clear.

Hondo and Voigt try something but that's not worked either. #AllezHondo

Hondo and Voigt have a decent enough gap now. Just a few seconds but at  least it's something. Voigt is doing most of the work at the moment.

The German alliance at the front has been joined by Danish rider Lars Bak, winner of a Giro stage this year.

33km remaining from 120km

Behind and Sky continue to control the peloton with Wiggins and Cavendish both very close to the front.

More and more riders are trying to move across to the leaders - there are six of them now but Sky continue to set pace. The gap is less than 6 seconds.

28km remaining from 120km

Tankink is in the group as Froome comes through and takes a turn on the Sky train.

Lund is also in the lead group.

There are 11 riders in the lead group with 27 km to go.

With a man up the road Lotto can sit back somewhat and let Sky do all of the chasing. That'll suit Greipel perfectly.

Liquigas and GreenEdge have joined the Sky chase, with Sagan right on Cavendish's wheel.

The 11 leaders have 25 seconds with 22km remaining.

19km to and Liquigas have taken charge of the chase.

Rui Costa and Iglinskiy are also in the 11 man break as Porte comes back to the front of the peloton to set the pace. Five seconds, shaved off the break's lead.

Garmin have moved up with Zabriskie leading the charge. We've not talked about Farrar at all since the first week but he's still here, he's hanging in there. Can he come up with something on the final stage of this year's race?

14km remaining from 120km

14km to go and the gap is at 18 seconds.

The break is splintering with Voigt taking off and not many riders can match him.

Minard, Costa, and Voigt, that's all who remain from the break with 10km remaining and the gap at 20 seconds.

10km to go. A breakaway hangs out in front by a slender margin as the race speeds across the cobbled Champs Elysées.

@inrng Sun, 22nd Jul 2012 16:11:10

7km remaining from 120km

22 seconds for the leading trio.

Just one lap to go and the trio still have 18 seconds.

Lotto move up, Liquigas still control the front, with Orica lurking on the other side. 15 seconds is the gap and now Saxo lead the chase

5km remaining from 120km

5km to go and the gap is 10 seconds. Saxo doing all of the work.

3km remaining from 120km

3km to go and it's about to come back together.

Crash and a Lampre rider and one from AG2R have crashed.

Break caught and Orica move further up with Gerrans setting pace.

Now Sky take control with Wiggins in 3rd wheel. Rogers in the lead, with Hagen next.

Oss doing the work for Sagan.

Farrar up there at the back of the Saxo train.

1km to go.

And Wiggins hits the front, O'Grady on his wheel.

Sky in command and Hagen takes over into the last corner.

He swings over and Cavendish has to go early. Very early and Cavendish is out of the saddle Goss is right on his wheel.

He's just too good and Cavendish takes the stage, and now Wiggins crosses the line and Wiggins and Sky have won the Tour de France. The first British rider to ever win the race.

Sagan second on the stage, Goss 3rd. Greipel was back in 8th.

Wiggins raises his arms as he crossed the line, Rogers the first congratulate him, Froome the next.

Heckuva dig by Wiggins. Watching the YJ do that is one of the most unusual things I've seen on the Champs-Élysées.

@Bonnie_D_Ford Sun, 22nd Jul 2012 16:25:50

Well, that was one of the coolest things that I have ever seen...

@taylorphinney Sun, 22nd Jul 2012 16:25:04

Cav went with 350 to go. Extraordinary.

@friebos Sun, 22nd Jul 2012 16:24:11

All I can say is WOW!!!!

@grahamjonesy Sun, 22nd Jul 2012 16:26:57

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling 3:08:07
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
3 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
4 Juan José Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
5 Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
6 Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol Team
7 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team
8 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team
9 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
10 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Saur - Sojasun

Final general classification

1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 87:34:42
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:03:21
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:06:19
4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:10:15
5 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:11:04
6 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:15:43
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:15:51
8 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:16:31
9 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:16:38
10 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:17:17

Cavendish takes his 23rd stage win, his third stage win this year, Sky's third stage win in a row, six in total for them during this Tour.

@inrng Sun, 22nd Jul 2012 16:29:36

That's all from our live coverage from this year's Tour. Thanks for joining us today, and throughout the race. You can find our report, race results and pictures, all here. We'll see you at the Olympic Games.

 

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