The Kenyan-born Briton was the overwhelming favourite coming into the Tour thanks to his fine form in the first half of the year, and he lived up to expectations with a comprehensive win in the general classification.
The Team Sky star took the yellow jersey for the first time with an outstanding ride to victory in the eighth stage at Ax-Trois-Domaines in the Pyrenees, and never relinquished his grip thereafter. Another stunning burst to win on Mont Ventoux and a third stage win in the 17th stage individual time trial helped him go on to triumph by 4min 20sec from runner-up Nairo Quintana. It was the biggest winning margin since the Lance Armstrong era and Froome, 28, follows in the footsteps of teammate Bradley Wiggins to become the second consecutive British winner of the yellow jersey.
Laurent Cipriani/AP/Press Association Images
Competing in his first Tour de France, Colombian Quintana was tipped at the outset as a potential danger in the mountains and as a contender to win the white jersey for the best young rider. He took the white jersey by a convincing margin but also beat Chris Froome to the polka dot jersey for the King of the Mountains thanks to his victory atop the unclassified Annecy-Semnoz climb on the penultimate stage. Quintana followed in the footsteps of fellow Colombians Lucho Herrera and Mauricio Soler by winning the polka dot jersey but also became the first rider from the country to finish on the podium in the general classification in quarter of a century. Quintana will now hope to go on and win a Grand Tour in the years to come.
German Kittel emerged as a genuine threat to Mark Cavendish’s dominance of the sprints on this year’s Tour. The Argos rider started with a bang, winning the opening stage in Bastia to take yellow, green and white jerseys all at once. He then went on to prove that was no fluke by getting the better of compatriot Andre Greipel to win stage 10 in Saint-Malo and then outgun Cavendish to win again in Tours two days later. Kittel’s four stage victories surpassed the best ever tally of wins achieved in any one Tour by his fellow countryman Erik Zabel (three) and the 25-year-old will now hope to challenge for the green jersey in future.
Team Saxo may have finished top of the team standings, but the Danish outfit’s success was overshadowed by Alberto Contador’s inability to mount a sustained challenge for the yellow jersey. In contrast, Belgian side Omega Pharma Quick-Step won four stages altogether, more than any of their rivals. Mark Cavendish will be disappointed to have won just twice, but his team were also able to toast victories for Tony Martin, in the individual time trial to Mont-Saint-Michel, and for young Italian Matteo Trentin, who recorded his first Grand Tour victory with a perfectly-timed sprint in Lyon on stage 14. In addition, Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski gave a hint of his potential with an impressive showing in the general classification.
Touted as the most likely challenger to Chris Froome, Spanish star Contador never really looked like winning the yellow jersey.
Contador, centre with the man he was supposed to challenge. Christophe Ena/AP/Press Association Images
A winner of the Tour twice in the past, and stripped of the 2010 title because of a doping ban, Contador was some way short of his very best this year. The 30-year-old was simply unable to keep up with Froome at Ax-Trois-Domaines and on Mont Ventoux, while his promised attacks never really happened, with a niggling knee injury blamed for his inability even to finish on the podium.
Before the race began, the veteran Australian was hoping to win the Tour for the second time in three years. Had he done so, at the age of 36, he would have become the oldest winner of the Tour de France. But the challenge from Evans simply never materialised, perhaps because of fatigue after participating in the Giro d’Italia, perhaps because his best days are now behind him. Evans finished more than an hour and a half behind overall winner Chris Froome and his BMC team must now be wondering about their leader’s long-term future, especially with 2012 white jersey winner Tejay van Garderen also in their ranks.
Describing the British sprint king as one of the losers of this year’s Tour is perhaps a little harsh. After all, he won two stages to take his overall tally of stage wins in the sport’s greatest race to 25.
Cavendish narrowly loses out to Kittel on stage 12. Peter Dejong/AP/Press Association Images
However, the Manxman had won at least three stages in each of the previous five years, making this year a relative failure for him. He also missed out on a fifth straight win on the Champs Elysees, while his race was marred by controversy. He was blamed by other riders — although not by race officials — for a crash that brought down Dutchman Tom Veelers in the sprint for the line on stage 10 in Saint-Malo and then had urine thrown at him by a spectator during the following day’s time-trial to Mont-Saint-Michel.
With 22 teams taking part in the Tour de France, not everyone can be a winner. Italian outfit Lampre were the definition of mediocrity, with just one rider, the Colombian Jose Serpa, finishing in the top 50 in the general classification. Their leading rider, Damiano Cunego, a former winner of the Giro d’Italia and of the white jersey in the Tour, struggled no make an impression and the team passed largely unnoticed until making headlines in the final week of the race. However, those headlines had nothing to do with the Tour, but rather concerned the decision by prosecutors in Italy to charge 28 people, including Cunego, with doping offences relating to a long-standing investigation. The case is due to go to court in December.