Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Britain’s best ever Tour de France

This years race, the 96th, can be considered Britain’s best ever Tour.

Tour de France sprint king Mark Cavendish won stage two of the Tour of Ireland on Saturday.
Mark Cavendish, winner of six stages in this year's Tour de France, coasted to victory in a sprint finish into Killarney for the 49th stage victory of his third full season as a professional. He tied Barry Hoban's record for the most by a British rider this year at the Tour de France, joining a select company of British greats.

Bradley Wiggins, 29, became only the second Briton in over 100 years to finish in the top four as he equalled Robert Millar’s 1984 British best.

Mark Cavendish, Wiggins’s former team-mate and Olympic track partner, won six stages while David Millar, Wiggins’s Garmin-Slipstream teammate and former yellow jersey holder on stage six, claimed the most combative rider of the day award following his breakaway on stage six into Barcelona.

The triple-Olympic gold medallist, had, as was widely reported before the Tour started in Monaco on July 4, shed seven kilograms this year as he switched his primary focus from the track to the road."I came from nowhere on the Tour and everyone knows where it's been with blood doping," Wiggins said. "I don't want there to be any suspicion or doubt that what I did was natural. I have nothing to hide and I want this transparency.

The Tour de France came to England for the first time in 1974, with a stage in Plymouth (1. Poppe). Twenty years later, in 1994, the caravan this time took the Chunnel to reach Dover for a stage to Brighton (1. Cabello), then Portsmouth (1. Minali)

The Tour will be crossed the Channel for the third time in 2007 where it will be took to the roads in the south of England and featuring a historic, first-time start from Great Britain: Prologue in London, first stage London-Canterbury. Bill Burl and Charles Holland were the first British riders to take part in the Tour de France, in 1937. The first UK team to take part did so in 1955 and the experience was repeated in 1960, 1961, 1967 and 1968.

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