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

What’s in this week’s issue of Cycling Weekly>>

  • David Cooper

    Agree with Michael.

    Check out http://www.thecgroup.org/new-site/can-you-help/events-2/commando-tour-de-france/about-CTDF.html which shows how a bunch of Royal Marines for no other reason but to raise money for injured colleagues rode the 2007 route of the Tour.

    In three weeks just the same as the professionals.

    Now they are HEROES.

  • Charlie Sprocket

    Yup, I agree the real heroes of this year’s Tour were definitely Andy Schleck and Mark Cavendish.
    Cheers,
    Charlie Sprocket

  • Michael Mace

    Alison,
    I am exforces so i stick with my comments.
    Andy Schleck is a superb rider and I hopes he wins the Tour de France but a hero he is not.
    Mike

  • Alison Lucas

    Sorry Michael, I have to disagree there. According to the Oxford English dictionary a hero is “a person noted or admired for courage or outstanding achievements”. For me that’s Andy Schleck not an un-named soldier who had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  • Michael Mace

    Dear Sirs,
    I object most strongly to the use of the word HEROS.
    A HERO is usually someone in the armed forces who goes under fire to recue wounded comrades or firmen going into a blazing building to rescue people or a unarmed policeman who disarms a criminal.
    Cycleists are suberp sportsmen/woman and deserve our admeration except the cheating gits who use drugs.
    MIKEM

  • Paul G

    Cav needs to go for the intermediate sprints if he wants the green jersey… For the last two years he’s lost out to riders who do because of his reliance on stage wins. Besides all that, no one can DESERVE any jersey until the end of the tour… and if they didn’t get the points, then they don’t deserve it anyway. QED? Pointless article…

  • John Cowley

    Um, all very well, but I can’t believe no-one has commented on the biggest issue raised by this article: Why hasn’t Garbutt been fired for the phrase “the second most winningest nation”. Please never, ever, use the abomination that is “winningest” again, and I’ll overlook the superfluous use of “most”.
    Rant over. Ah, I feel better now…

  • Karl Max

    Cavendish did not deserve the jersey neither this year or last year. Yes he is the fastest sprinter in the peleton, but he got a problem with his moral. If he really wanted the jersey he should have been fighting for every point he could. You could see on the way Hushovd and Pettachi was riding they had a big desire for this jersey and they was fighting for it. Cavendish on the other hand gave away points in the first week where he could easily have picke up some more points. On stage 3 he did not even fight for the points he could have won the sprint in the group he was but did not care, and got only 1 point instead of 4. With an attitude like that he dont have the right desire for the jersey and dont deserve it. This is after all a point competition and not a sprint competition, and if he wants to win he have to show the desire to win every point he can.
    And about Contador, he is riding smart and using his head- that is what cycling is about. That is also why he wins the grand tours. Maybe Cavnedish needs to learn something from Contadors attitude if he wants to win the green jersey.

  • Jon Lingwood

    Cav was the fastest sprinter, no question and the green jersey would have been his in Paris irrespective of his crash on stage one if he hadn’t have thrown his teddy out and sat up during the sprint on stage four. The green jersey rewards the most consistent finisher and Petacchi was just that. He fought for every point during sprint finishes and didn’t have a sulk if it looked like he wasn’t going to win. Cav needs to learn this if he is ever going to take green.

  • Jerry Toy

    Not forgetting David Millar who completed the whole tour after crashing early on and injuring his ribs. Could have easily retired but continued on with some pain I would imagine to the finish…well done.

  • DP

    OJ is correct – you are talking about different competitions – the Green Jersey is for the most consistent finisher throughout all stages, not just the flat ones. There is currently not a best sprinter competition; there used to be and they had a red jersey for it but that competition is not run at present. Still one cannot take anything away from Cavendish nor from Petacchi but Robert Garbutt’s second paragraph of his editorial is badly misinformed

  • Mike

    Could not agree more with the Cav and Andy show.
    Cav is a real competitor. What you see is what you get. He says some daft things when interviewed just after a finish, and sometimes has to apologise, but he is real and wears his heart on his sleve.
    I for one get tired of the measured media speak of people like Armstrong and Contador who seem to always have a hiden agenda with every quote.
    As for Andy Schleck. What a realy nice guy. I look forward to him winning the Tour next year, he looked the freshest rider at this years finish. He didnt moan or complain and admitted he was suffering on some mountain stages and had to ease off. None of the PR monitored musings of Mr Contador.
    Up untill the “chain” incident I didnt care who won, but Contadors contradictions afterwards put me firmly in the Schleck camp.

  • IAN COULTHARD

    Yes Petacchi did REMARKABLY well didn’t he…Should Mr P have been in the tour in the first place? Given that he’s currently ‘under investigation’ ? Given that BMC have two riders in the same situation and immediately withdrew them, BEFORE THE TOUR… BUT BMC are a new team and not a ‘top’ established team aren’t they…. How’s your chest Alessandro? Let’s see what comes out in the wash shall we….probably in about 3 years time!!!!

  • blair

    Cav quit on one stage, losing points he should have had that could have earned him the whole avocado. Petacchi was a monster the entire tour, when at his age he should be looking around at the pretty mountains and angling for a bike manufacturer to buy his name. Even if Cav had won the shirt we’d be calling Petacchi a hero here. But Cav’s incredible accelerations in the last couple of contests keep him in contention. I’d like to put in a mention for Chris Horner, the least likely denizen of the top ten, and Jens Voigt, who circled the Champs in a full-body cast, and the entire French contingent, who finally remembered whose home turf it was.

  • OJ

    Agree that Cav is the fastest sprinter – this year and last year. But Petacchi won the green jersey. He collected the most points, mostly because of Cav’s poor performance in the beginning. If you are not happy with the rules of the Green, then work to change them, instead of disrespecting Petacchis victory