le tour 2011 : rapha

"No Prologue, racing from the first gun…two of the favourites, Contador and Evans scrapping for the win on Stage 4, Contador evidently keen to show he was still in the fight despite losing time from the off…The butcher’s bill was horrible and we lament the exit of them all, Wiggins in the form of his life, but bravo to the matured Sky team for sticking to it and Boasson Hagen’s stage wins. And that other Norwegian rider, curse of the rainbow jersey quashed by a magnificent Hushovd…Cavendish mastering the petulance in his make-up (sharp words from Peiper: Learn the métier, mate), canalising the emotion and giving full vent to the power in his legs for sweet green…Andy Schleck redeeming the failure to take on the Pyrenees with anything like the show of strength they demanded with a wonderful ride to the Tour’s highest ever finish on the Galibier, cheered on by Merckx, standing in the sunroof of Prudhomme’s car…Evans’ gritty chase behind him, taking the responsibility, square on, to close down the time gap…Voeckler, ah, Voeckler, driving himself to the limit and apparently beyond it, until he acceded and told the amazing Rolland 'Go on, take your chance' which he did, victory on l’Alpe d’Huez, over the whole pack of big hitters, Contador, Sanchez et al…Evans’ tenacious self belief driving him steadily to the overall win, limiting the losses and delivering a thumping time trial…but emphatically Voeckler’s Tour, his Europcar team, second division, ten days in yellow, fourth overall, stage win and the white jersey… Chapeau."


by Graeme Fife