Wiggins makes history
Life will never be the same for Bradley Wiggins. The Londoner became the first Briton to claim overall victory in the world's most famous cycle race as he was crowned Tour de France winner. A three-time Olympic champion on the track, Wiggins has fulfilled a lifelong goal on the road and in reaching his "greatest sporting achievement" assures that his name will stand alongside the legends of his sport such as Eddy Merckx, Lance Armstrong and Miguel Indurain.
The win caps an absolutely perfect race for the British team Sky, which claimed a 1-2, after Wiggins' team mate and fellow Briton Chris Froome took second place. The pair dominated the opposition ever since Wiggins took the leader's yellow jersey after stage seven of the 20-stage race. Wiggins won both time trial stages, while the Sky team set a relentless pace through the tour's tough mountain sections to ensure nobody could challenge their leading riders.
Indeed, the only man who seemed capable of challenging Wiggins was Froome himself, who twice in the mountains looked ready to ride away from his team leader, only to look back and remember his team orders - protect the yellow jersey. There has been much speculation as to who is the stronger rider of the two: Froome is perhaps the better climber, but Wiggins, as he showed on Saturday, is currently the world's best time trial rider. It will be interesting to see how Sky approaches things next season. Wiggins has repeatedly said that Froome will soon have his day (Wiggins is 32, Froome 27), even hinting that he would be prepared to ride for him in a tour as Froome has for Wiggins this year. This will surely not be the case in 2013, when Wiggins will be looking to defend his title, meaning Froome may have to leave his lucrative Sky contract to claim the team leader role his talent undoubtedly deserves.
Sunday's final stage to Paris was the usual procession: it is tradition for there to be no attacks on the yellow jersey on the final day. All of which meant that it came down to a sprint finish on the Champs Elysees, where Britain's Mark Cavendish has won for the last three years. By his own high standards, Cavendish has had a quiet tour, seeming perfectly happy to play a team role in support of Wiggins's yellow-jersey quest. Cavendish has barely addressed the media all tour, and it is thought that the world champion has his sights firmly set on securing the Olympic road race title in just a few days time. It has even been suggested that he lost a few kilos in order to be able to handle the hills better on the Olympic course. Some speculated that the alleged weight loss had cost him a fraction of his explosive sprint power. True or not, he still had the speed to claim a fourth consecutive win in Paris and cap a fantastic three weeks for British cycling.
Cavendish, Wiggins, Froome and David Millar - another British stage winner on the tour this year - will all now turn their attention to the Olympic road race on 28 July. There, the team will likely ride for Cavendish, but for now one man dominates the spotlight. "I've got to get used to it, it's going to take a while," said Wiggins on Sunday. "I'm just trying to soak it all in. You never imagine it will happen to you but it's amazing."