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Tour de France 2011 review: Stage-by-stage

The 2011 Tour de France is done and dusted, having covered 3,430.5 kilometres in 21 stages over 23 days, from east to west and north to south of the country, taking in a brief sojourn in the Alps into Italy, before finally providing us with a new champion in Cadel Evans. The 167 finishers can now enjoy a well-earned rest or earn some deserved appearance money at the post-Tour criteriums, but in the meantime here is a stage-by-stage reminder of how the race was won and lost.

Stage 1: Passage du Gois La Barre de Monts to Mont des Alouettes Les Herbiers, 191.5km

Stage report

On a testing uphill finish reminiscent of the spring classics Philippe Gilbert – the acknowledged current classics king – sprinted to victory, chasing down Fabian Cancellara’s final kilometre attack and riding the last 500 metres solo. The opening stage was also notable for several crashes, including a collision involving a spectator with 9km remaining which split the peloton and cost Alberto Contador over a minute.

Stage winner: Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto)

General classification: 1. Philippe Gilbert, 2. Cadel Evans +0:03, 3. Thor Hushovd +0:06

Excitement factor: 4/5

Stage 2: Les Essarts, 23km team time trial

Stage report

Garmin-Cervélo took victory in the team time trial by four seconds over the day’s surprise performers, BMC. The top five teams were separated by just five seconds as Sky, Leopard-Trek and HTC-Highroad fell just short, with HTC hampered by the loss of Bernhard Eisel in a crash inside the first half-kilometre. Garmin’s win put Thor Hushovd in the yellow jersey.

Stage winner: Garmin-Cervélo

General classification: 1.Thor Hushovd, 2. David Millar +0:00, 3. Cadel Evans +0:01

Excitement factor: 3/5

Stage 3: Olonne sur Mer to Redon, 198km

Stage report

On the 4th of July, American Tyler Farrar claimed his first individual Tour stage after being led out by yellow jersey Hushovd in a broken sprint. An accident near the front at the final corner put paid to the hopes of Mark Cavendish, who along with Hushovd was subsequently declassified by the commissaires from the intermediate sprint after briefly touching.

Stage winner: Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo)

General classification: 1. Thor Hushovd, 2. David Millar +0:00, Cadel Evans +0:01

Excitement factor: 2/5

Stage 4: Lorient to Mûr-de-Bretagne, 172.5km

Stage report

A nail-biting finish on the concluding climb of Mûr-de-Bretagne saw pre-stage favourite Philippe Gilbert overrun by the overall contenders as Cadel Evans held off Alberto Contador by a matter of inches to claim his first Tour road stage. Contador regained a handful of seconds against several of his rivals, while Hushovd clung on to the front group to finish sixth and preserve his one-second overall lead.

Stage winner: Cadel Evans (BMC)

General classification: 1. Thor Hushovd, 2. Cadel Evans +0:01, 3. Fränk Schleck, +0:04

Excitement factor: 4/5

Stage 5: Carhaix to Cap Fréhel, 164.5km

Stage report

A combination of crosswinds, narrow roads and an increasingly nervy peloton resulted in at least seven separate crashes. In a final kilometre disrupted by uphill ramps, Mark Cavendish charged through from 11th to first in the last 300 metres to win a chaotic sprint and claim his 16th Tour stage.

Stage winner: Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad)

General classification: 1. Thor Hushovd, 2. Cadel Evans +0:01, 3. Fränk Schleck, +0:04

Excitement factor: 4/5

Stage 6: Dinan to Lisieux, 226.5km

Stage report

Edvald Boasson Hagen claimed both his and Sky’s maiden stage win in a strong man’s sprint ahead of Matt Goss and Thor Hushovd, after a tricky uncategorised climb 3km from the finish excluded the sprinters. The riders had to endure torrential rain for long stretches, with Levi Leipheimer losing over a minute after crashing on a slick road 5km from the end.

Stage winner: Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky)

General classification:  1. Thor Hushovd, 2. Cadel Evans +0:01, 3. Fränk Schleck, +0:04

Excitement factor: 2/5

Stage 7: Le Mans to Châteauroux, 218km

Stage report

Mark Cavendish took a comfortable sprint win at the end of an exemplary HTC-Highroad lead-out. However an otherwise routine stage was marred by a crash about 40km from the end which eliminated Bradley Wiggins and Rémi Pauriol with broken collarbones and saw Chris Horner finish 13 minutes down with concussion and a broken nose.

Stage winner: Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad)

General classification: 1. Thor Hushovd, 2. Cadel Evans +0:01, 3. Fränk Schleck, +0:04

Excitement factor: 2/5

Stage 8: Aigurande to Super-Besse Sancy, 189km

Stage report

Movistar’s Rui Costa just managed to hold on to win as the last surviving member of the day’s breakaway on the first mountain stage of the race. The major GC contenders all finished together, but not before Alberto Contador again looked vulnerable after a weak attack in the closing kilometre.

Stage winner: Rui Costa (Movistar)

General classification: 1. Thor Hushovd, 2. Cadel Evans +0:01, 3. Fränk Schleck, +0:04

Excitement factor: 3/5

Stage 9: Issoire to Saint-Flour, 208km

Stage report

On a rolling stage containing eight categorised climbs, the breakaway survived for the second day in a row as Luis-León Sánchez outsprinted Thomas Voeckler and Sandy Casar at the finish. However, Voeckler ended Thor Hushovd’s week-long stay in the yellow jersey, taking the overall lead by nearly two minutes heading into the first rest day. The stage was marred by two serious crashes, one on a slippery corner which ended the races of Jurgen Van Den Broeck and Alexandre Vinokourov, the other initiated when a swerving media car knocked Juan Antonoi Flecha over and sent Johnny Hoogerland flying into a barbed wire fence.

Stage winner: Luis León Sánchez (Rabobank)

General classification: 1. Thomas Voeckler, 2. Luis León Sánchez +1:49, 3. Cadel Evans +2:26

Excitement factor: 4/5

Stage 10: Aurillac to Carmaux, 158km

Stage report

A late break by Philippe Gilbert, which also included the yellow jersey of race leader Thomas Voeckler, failed but thinned out the field as they scrambled to be in position for the finish. Minus his lead-out train, Mark Cavendish jumped with 200 metres to go but could not hold off Gilbert’s teammate André Greipel, who charged through to claim his first Tour win with an impressive burst.

Stage winner: André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto)

General classification: 1. Thomas Voeckler, 2. Luis León Sánchez +1:49, 3. Cadel Evans +2:26

Excitement factor: 4/5

Stage 11: Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur, 167.5km

Stage report

On a day of heavy rain showers the peloton left it late, only catching the day’s break with 2km remaining. Despite an undermanned lead-out train and having to reach down to adjust a shoe with 600 metres to go, Mark Cavendish took an easy victory – his third of the race – to avenge his defeat by André Greipel the previous day.

Stage winner: Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad)

General classification: 1. Thomas Voeckler, 2. Luis León Sánchez +1:49, 3. Cadel Evans +2:26

Excitement factor: 2/5

Stage 12: Cugnaux to Luz-Ardiden, 211km

Stage report

Samuel Sánchez accelerated away from Jelle Vanendert in the final 250 metres to claim his maiden Tour stage, after the pair had broken clear of the pack. Behind them, the Schleck brothers prodded and probed before Fränk broke free in the closing kilometres to gain 20 seconds on his rivals, who were otherwise largely happy to neutralise racing among themselves.

Stage winner: Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)

General classification: 1. Thomas Voeckler, 2. Fränk Schleck +1:49, 3. Cadel Evans +2:06

Excitement factor: 2/5

Stage 13: Pau to Lourdes, 152.5km

Stage report

Thor Hushovd judged his pursuit perfectly, chasing down Jérémy Roy in the closing kilometres to snatch victory after the Frenchman had ridden solo over the top of the Col d’Aubisque and appeared to be heading for the first French stage win of the Tour. A disinterested peloton were happy to roll in seven minutes behind

Stage winner: Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo)

General classification: 1. Thomas Voeckler, 2. Fränk Schleck +1:49, 3. Cadel Evans +2:06

Excitement factor: 2/5

Stage 14: Saint-Gaudens to Plateau de Beille, 168.5km

Stage report

Jelle Vanendert won on Plateau de Beille and catapulted himself into the lead of the polka dot jersey competition with a solo win. He rode off the front of the yellow jersey group with 7km remaining, with the leaders content to cover each other as a meaningful attack failed to materialise.

Stage winner: Jelle Vanendert (Omega Pharma-Lotto)

General classification: 1. Thomas Voeckler, 2. Fränk Schleck +1:49, 3. Cadel Evans +2:06

Excitement factor: 3/5

Stage 15: Limoux to Montpellier, 192.5km

Stage report

HTC-Highroad controlled the stage from start to finish in a masterful display of setting up a sprint on a flat day which was made tricky by coastal crosswinds. Nonetheless, the HTC lead-out deposited Mark Cavendish in exactly the right place, and the Manxman did the rest to hold off Tyler Farrar for his fourth win.

Stage winner: Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad)

General classification: 1. Thomas Voeckler, 2. Fränk Schleck +1:49, 3. Cadel Evans +2:06

Excitement factor: 1/5

Stage 16: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Gap, 162.5km

Stage report

Thor Hushovd outsprinted compatriot Edvald Boasson Hagen after both were part of the day’s breakaway. Alberto Contador attacked repeatedly on the final climb, then joined Cadel Evans and Samuel Sánchez to race clear of the pack on a treacherous wet descent to the finish. The trio gained 21 seconds on Thomas Voeckler, with a struggling Andy Schleck losing 1:09.

Stage winner: Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo)

General classification: 1. Thomas Voeckler, 2. 3. Cadel Evans +1:45, 3. Fränk Schleck +1:49

Excitement factor: 5/5

Stage 17: Gap to Pinerolo, 179km

Stage report

Edvald Boasson Hagen rode away from the rest of the day’s break on the final climb and mastered the difficult descent to the finish to claim his second win. Alberto Contador attacked on the climb and again over the summit with Samuel Sánchez, only to be caught by Cadel Evans and the Schleck brothers in the last 250 metres. Yellow jersey Thomas Voeckler was one of a number of riders to survive off-road excursions on the descent, but lost 27 seconds of his advantage.

Stage winner: Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky)

General classification: 1. Thomas Voeckler, 2. 3. Cadel Evans +1:18, 3. Fränk Schleck +1:22

Excitement factor: 5/5

Stage 18: Pinerolo to Galibier-Serre Chevalier, 200.5km

Stage report

Andy Schleck blew the race wide open with an audacious attack on the Col d’Izoard over 60km from the finish and rode to a solo victory. With no one else willing to force the pace on the final climb to the summit of the Galibier, Cadel Evans dragged the yellow jersey group up the final 10km virtually single-handedly to minimise their losses and prevent Schleck from building a potentially race-winning advantage.

Stage winner: Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek)

General classification: 1. Thomas Voeckler, 2. Andy Schleck +0:15, 3. Fränk Schleck +1:08

Excitement factor: 5/5

Stage 19: Modane Valfréjus to Alpe-d’Huez, 109.5km

Stage report

In a mirror image of the previous day, Alberto Contador launched an attack on the first climb just 14km into the stage. Cadel Evans, who originally followed him but was forced to drop back to the peloton after a bike change, was again compelled to lead the chase over the Galibier. The favourites came back together shortly before Alpe d’Huez, but after Contador had raced clear and a succession of attacks had failed to dislodge the redoubtable Evans, Pierre Rolland went clear in the final 2km to claim the first French win of this year’s race. Thomas Voeckler yo-yoed off the front all day and finally cracked on the Alpe, dropping to fourth overall.

Stage winner: Pierre Rolland (Europcar)

General classification: 1. Andy Schleck, 2. Fränk Schleck +0:53, 3. Cadel Evans +0:57

Excitement factor: 5/5

Stage 20: Grenoble, 42.5km individual time trial

Stage report

Tony Martin won the only individual time trial with a dominant display of power and aggression, as world champion Fabian Cancellara could only finish eighth. Cadel Evans was the only rider to finish within a minute of Martin after a classy ride which saw him devour Andy Schleck’s 57-second advantage before the midway point, putting the Australian into the yellow jersey for the first time this year. Thomas Voeckler defended his fourth place with the best time trial of his career.

Stage winner: Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad)

General classification: 1. Cadel Evans (BMC), 2. Andy Schleck +1:34, 3. Fränk Schleck +2:30

Excitement factor: 3/5

Stage 21: Créteil to Paris Champs-Élysées, 95km

Stage report

Mark Cavendish romped to his third consecutive win on the Champs-Élysées, his fifth victory in this year’s race and his first green jersey as HTC-Highroad put on a tactical masterclass in Paris, forcing other teams to chase down the day’s break and taking over the front of the peloton in textbook fashion with 1km to go.

Stage winner: Mark Cavendish

General classification: 1. Cadel Evans (BMC), 2. Andy Schleck +1:34, 3. Fränk Schleck +2:30

Excitement factor: 3/5

Links: Tour de France official websiteSteephill.tv

Race review

In numbers

Talking points

Race analysis

Is the new green jersey points system working?

Week 1 winners & losers

Who will win the polka dot jersey?

Week 2 winners & losers

Is Thomas Voecker a genuine contender for 2012?

Stage recaps

Stage 1: Gilbert climbs to victory as Contador faces uphill battle

Stage 2: Hushovd takes yellow as Evans misses out by one second

Stage 3: Farrar’s green jersey challenge is born on the 4th of July

Stage 4: Evans wins slug-fest but Hushovd clings on to yellow

Stage 5: Cannonball Cav conquers crash carnage

Stage 6: Boasson Hagen wins battle of the strong men

Stage 7: Cavendish wins again as the Sky falls in for Wiggins

Stage 8: Costa’s winning break as Contador continues to look vulnerable

Stage 9: Voeckler leads Tour of attrition as peloton licks its wounds

Stage 10: Greipel the Gorilla gets the monkey off his back

Stage 11: No raining on Cavendish’s parade

Stage 12: Sánchez storms to Bastille Day victory

Stage 13: Thor thunders to victory, leaving Roy tilting at windmills

Stage 14: Vanendert wins as main contenders are happy to man-mark

Stage 15: HTC-Highroad express train delivers 4×4 Cavendish to victory

Stage 16: Norewgian one-two leaves Andy Schleck minding the Gap

Stage 17: Boasson Hagen wins again, Schleck complains again

Stage 18: Schleck one-two knocks out Contador, Evans and Voeckler battle on

Stage 19: Rolland wins at Alpe d’Huez on a day of true champions

Stage 20: Evans triumphs in moment of truth, Schleck becomes the new ‘eternal second’

Stage 21: Five-star Cavendish leaves rivals green with envy

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

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