When Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins, David Millar and Charly Wegelius stood on the stage in Monaco during the 2009 Tour de France team presentation little did they know that three weeks later Britain would have its best ever Tour performance.

The four British riders are all grand tour veterans, but each of them managed to have a new experience in the 2009 Tour de France.

Cavendish exceeded all expectations by taking six stage wins, not only making British history but also adding his name to the list of all-time great Tour winners. He asserted himself as the fastest sprinter in the world, bar none.

Wiggins’ fourth place overall was the revelation of the whole race, as the Olympic track champion showed the world that he can mix it up with the cream of the pro peloton. In the time trials and in the mountains, Wiggins held his own.

Millar was never far from the action, getting in breaks, helping team-mates Wiggins and Vande Velde in the mountains and leading out Garmin sprinter Tyler Farrar. He so nearly won stage six on a daring solo break but was caught on the line. His Tour ended on a high note, placing fifth in the final individual time trial.

Charly Wegelius is a veteran of many a grand tour, but having been originally told that he wasn’t riding the Tour de France he was then given a last minute place when Silence-Lotto team-mate Thomas Dekker failed a dope test. Despite his lack of preparation, Wegelius threw himself into loyal domestique duties and managed to finish in 58th spot, just behind Denis Menchov and Kim Kirchen.

Here we take a pictorial look back at the 2009 Tour de France from the perspective of our four riders and salute them for a job well done.

 Garmin-Slipstream, Tour de France 2009, team presentation, Monaco

Garmin team-mates Dav
id Millar (second left) and Bradley Wiggins (second right) line up for the official te
am presentation in
M
onaco on Thursday, July 2

 Columbia HTC, Tour de France 2009, team presentation, Monaco

Mark C
a
vendish took pride of place in Columbia-HTC’s line-up, but no-one could have predicted that he
wou
ld win
six stages

 David Millar, Tour de France 2009, stage 1 TT, July 4 2009

David Millar went out hard in the opening stage one time trial in Monaco to place 14th

Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France 2009, stage 1 TT, July 4 2009

Bradley Wi
ggins had s
et out to win the opening time trial, and came third behind Fabian Cancellara and Alberto Co
ntador. His n
ame wouldn’t drop out of the top ten for the duration of the race

Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France 2009, stage 2

Wiggins wore the green jersey during stage two after his TT ride

 Mark Cavendish, Tour de France 2009 stage 2

Win number one. Mark Cavendish takes stage two…

Mark Cavendish, Tour de France 2009 stage 2

… and becomes the secon
d Br
it to wear the 2009 green jersey

Mark Cavendish, Tour de France 2009, stage 2

Mark Cavendish signs on

 Garmin-Slipstream, Tour de France 2009, stage 4 TTT

Wiggins and Millar’s Garmin team came second in the stage four team time trial. Their time helped keep Wiggins in contention. Only Astana beat them

Mark Cavendish, Tour de France 2009, stage 5

Cavendish wins the sprint for third on stage five after Thomas Voeckler won from a break

 David Millar, Tour de France 2009, stage 6

David Millar’s solo attack on stage six nearly saw him win… but victory was snatched from him by the chasing bunch in Barcelona

Mark Cavendish, Tour de France 2009, stage 8

Cavendish shows off his colour co-ordination on stage eight

Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France 2009, stage 8

Wiggins on stage eight, looking comfortable

Bradley Wiggins, Lance Armstrong, Tour de France 2009 stage 9

… and looking equally as comfortable the following day, riding with Lance Armstrong on stage nine

Mark Cavendish wins, Tour de France 2009, stage 10

Having lost the green jersey to Thor Hushovd, Cavendish pulled another stage win on Bastille Day, stage 10

 Mark Cavendish wins, Tour de France 2009 stage 11

And again the next day to bring his running total to four stage wins, matching the number he won in 2008

 David Zabriskie and David Millar, Tour de France 2009, stage 11

Garmin team-mates David Millar (left), David Zabriskie (centre) and Bradley Wiggins (right) on stage 11

 David Millar escape, Tour de France 2009, stage 12

Millar has another dig at being in a break on stage 12

 David Millar, Vande Velde, Wiggins, Tour de France 2009, stage 13Tour de France 2009, stage 13

Wiggins and Millar wrap-up on a rain-lashed stage 13

 tour de france, 2009 tour de france, stage 14, besancon, serguei ivanov, mark cavendish, thor hushovd, alberto contador, lance armstrong

Charly Wegelius has fun in the sun on stage 14. Or is he catching flies?

 Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France 2009, stage 15

One of Wiggins’ finest moments was launching an attack on Verbier at the end of stage 15, he came fifth and went back up to third overall

Bradley Wiggins, Christian Vande Velde, Tour de France 2009, rest day 2

Wiggins with Garmin team-mate Christian Vande Velde during a press conference on the second rest day

 Mark Cavendish, Tour de France 2009, stage 16

Cavendish could only sit and wait while green jersey nemesis Thor Hushovd went up the road on a points-collecting mission on stage 17

 Bradley Wiggins, Lance Armstrong, Tour de France 2009, stage 17

As the battle for the top five overall hotted up, Wiggins and Lance Armstrong shadowed each other in the fight for a podium place in Paris. Stage 17.

 Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France 2009, stage 18

Wiggins on stage 18, the final individual time trial. He went out fast but was caught in a sudden gusty headwind near the finish to come home in sixth, one place behind Millar

Bradley Wiggins warms down, Tour de France 2009 st 18

After a big effort, and a bit of disappointment, Wiggins finds some privacy after the ITT

Mark Cavendish, Tour de France 2009, stage 19

Win number five for Cavendish on a hilly stage that he ‘wasn’t supposed to win’ – stage 19 to Aubenas

 David Millar in the escape, Tour de France 2009, stage 19

Millar heads up another escape group, this time on stage 19

 David Millar, Tour de France 2009, stage 20

… And Millar takes the front of the peloton on stage 20 for Bradley Wiggins and Christian Vande Velde, dropping them off at the foot of Mont Ventoux

Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France 2009, stage 19

Wiggins before the start of stage 20

Charly Wegelius, Tour de France 2009, stage 19

Despite nearly three weeks’ of racing in his legs, Wegelius was still cheerful

 Mark Cavendish wins, Tour de France 2009, stage 21

Cavendish exectued a perfect sprint finish to take the final stage of the 2009 Tour de France in Paris. He’d completed his first Tour with six stage wins in the bag.

  • Nathan Healey

    Yes indeed, we here in New Zealand who followed every pedal meter in the early hours of the morning, marveled at the riveting and individual stories unfolding in this great race. The beauty about sport is no one knows until the fat lady has stopped singing what the final story every rider who finished this great race would tell. And every rider has a story which those of us who love this sport would find inspirational. The race itself was like a great symphony unfolding as the crescendo of all 21 movements heightened the expectation, in which the final encore down the Champs Elysees would receive a standing ovation from around the world, for all of us who watched this master piece being played out. And each rider played his part perfectly, with his bike as his musical instrument, giving a performance that words fail to describe. To each rider I say thank you and the memories of the performances, of which there were many, will stay at the forefront of many of our thoughts as inspiration and look forward, with baited breath, at next years orchestral master piece to unfold with yet another riveting performance from all our cycling elite.