Consistency brings success in bike races but it doesn’t win the hearts of fans. Give the yellow and green jerseys to whoever you like but the real heroes of this year’s Tour were definitely Andy Schleck and Mark Cavendish.
Contador says bike racing is not like maths, but he was still a calculating winner. Calculating winners aren’t exciting winners. He attacked less than half a dozen times in the entire race. He countered, he followed, but rarely did he initiate. And consequently he didn’t win a single stage, which is a 20-year first, assuming you ignore Oscar Pereiro’s belated promotion to top spot in 2006.
It’s no better with the green jersey. Cavendish takes five stages, three more than Petacchi, but it’s still not enough. Everybody knows who the best sprinter was this year. After a couple of dodgy stages in the first week Cav went from strength to strength taking the stages into Bordeaux and Paris with almost embarrassing ease.
There’s never a dull moment with Schleck and Cav. Andy throws his chain off, gives a good impression of an inept descender and then surprises us all with that fantastic final time trial. Mark falls off, cries (loads), has his lead-out man headbutt the opposition and then singlehandedly makes Britain the second most winningest nation in this year’s Tour.
Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly